First, it was police with a battering ram coming to knock down this family’s door and take their children.
Now, after the court said no, no, no, and sent the children home, vindictive authorities intend to make the parents pay …
More than a year ago, police in Germany obtained court permission to use “force” and arm themselves with a battering ram to take custody of four homeschooled children, only to see the parents resume homeschooling, and regain custody later.
But that ultimate defeat for the government apparently isn’t going to be the end, according to the father in the case, Dirk Wunderlich.
In an online interview from his German residence, he told WND that a local school board attorney since then has begun issuing “notices of enforcement” that come with penalties of 1,000 euros, or about $1,350. And warned that the enforcement “can be repeated basically any number of times up to … the maximum amount” of 50,000 euros, Wunderlich said.
Michael Donnelly, director of global outreach for the Home School Legal Defense Association, has been involved with the Wunderlich case from the outset, and told WND on Friday that the German government’s attitude apparently is that more prosecution, more force, more penalties is how to cause people to submit to the government’s will regarding the instruction of children.
“The Wunderlich family are currently homeschooling after having won back custody of their children but there is little doubt that authorities there will resume criminal and civil prosecution of the family,” he said.
“Authorities recently seized their bank account and are threatening the financial well-being of their family as a result of excessive and, in my view, unlawful costs levied against them in their custody case. German authorities generally and in this locality in particular remain quite hostile to home education,” he said.
“There are some who have written in the German press, such as Professor Franz Reimer at the University of Giessen, in support of homeschooling. However, until state legislators change the laws homeschoolers will continue to be threatened and persecuted unjustly.”
“Situations like the Wunderlich family in Germany, the Hagen family in Missouri, and Ayshe King in Europe demonstrate an alarming disrespect for the basic and fundamental rights of parents and families to be secure in their homes and in their authority to make decisions that are best for their children,” he continued.
“Homeschooling is recognized as a legal alternative in virtually every western and free country. Even in countries like China where homeschooling is not legal, families are not persecuted as they are in Germany.”
He said the real solution would be for German policy makers to take action to respect and protect the right of parents to educate their children.
Wunderlich noted in his comments to WND several court decisions that he, and other homeschoolers, consider egregious in his home country.
A 2007 decision found that homeschooling “may constitute a misuse of the parental care, which lastingly endangers the welfare of the child and requires measures to be taken by the family court.”
That ruling also said, “Compulsory schooling does not infringe on the fundamental human rights of the first party and the children. … a state primary school serves the legitimate purpose of the implementation of the state’s educational mandate and is appropriate and necessary for achieving this goal.”
A later decision, released just a year ago, said, “Due to compulsory school attendance the parents have to accept that the state, as a provider of education, take[s] their place in extent of the schooling sphere of activity. Therefore, the parents’ possibility to influence their children directly in a pedagogic way is limited to the time when the children are not in school.”
Wunderlich told WND that the government’s decision to take his children, on Aug. 29, 2013, appeared to be aimed more at a “reorientation” for the children while in state custody than anything else.
The children then were sent to public schools for a time, and although the children were unhappy in the secularized setting, there were no further issues until last March, when a new lawyer joined the school board.
Shortly thereafter, a “notice of enforcement” arrived for the family over exactly what classes the children would attend, he said.
The attorney followed with a “demand for prosecution,” which, Wunderlich said, provided “an additional threat of a sentence for up to six months in prison.”
The family responded by deregistering the children and taking them back home for schooling.
In their letter to the school, Wunderlich told WND, “We compared the ‘Schulzwang’ of Adolf Hitler (No. 12 Reich compulsory education law) with the current ‘Schulzwang’ in Hessen (No. 68 Hessen Act) and found that absolutely nothing has changed.”
“To our great surprise we got [full] custody back on 08/15/14,” he said.
As WND reported Aug. 30, 2013, the state took custody of the children of Dirk and Petra Wunderlich, ages 7-14, from their Darmstadt, Germany, home by police armed with a battering ram. The parents were told they wouldn’t see the children again soon because they were violating federal law by homeschooling them. The paperwork that authorized police officers and social workers to use force on the children contained no claims of mistreatment.
But a team of 20 social workers, police and special agents stormed the family’s home. HSLDA reported Judge Koenig, who is assigned to the Darmstadt family court, signed an order authorizing the immediate seizure of the children by force.
“Citing the parents’ failure to cooperate ‘with the authorities to send the children to school,’ the judge also authorized the use of force ‘against the children’ … reasoning that such force might be required because the children had ‘adopted the parents’ opinions’ regarding homeschooling and that ‘no cooperation could be expected’ from either the parents or the children,” HSLDA said at the time.
Dirk Wunderlich told the homeschool group: “I looked through a side window and saw many people, police and special agents, all armed. They told me they wanted to come in to speak with me. I tried to ask questions, but within seconds, three police officers brought a battering ram and were about to break the door in, so I opened it.”
He said police “shoved me into a chair and wouldn’t let me even make a phone call at first.”
“It was chaotic as they told me they had an order to take the children. At my slightest movement the agents would grab me, as if I were a terrorist. You would never expect anything like this to happen in our calm, peaceful village. It was like a scene out of a science-fiction movie. Our neighbors and children have been traumatized by this invasion.”
Homeschooling has been banned in Germany since Adolf Hitler was in power. WND has reported over the years on a German teen who was ordered into a psychiatric ward for being homeschooled and parents who were sentenced to jail terms for homeschooling their children.
The anti-homeschool law in Germany has a dark origin: It was Hitler’s idea, and the nation has never changed it. It was in 1937 when Hitler said that the “youth of today is ever the people of tomorrow.”
“For this reason we have set before ourselves the task of inoculating our youth with the spirit of this community of the people at a very early age, at an age when human beings are still unperverted and therefore unspoiled,” the dictator said. “This Reich stands, and it is building itself up for the future, upon its youth. And this new Reich will give its youth to no one, but will itself take youth and give to youth its own education and its own upbringing.”
A year later, the Nazis adopted a law that eliminated exemptions that previously provided an open door for homeschoolers under the nation’s compulsory education laws.
As WND reported, the German government believes public schooling is critical to socialization, as demonstrated in its response to parents who objected to police officers picking up their son at home and delivering him to a public school.
“The minister of education does not share your attitudes toward so-called homeschooling,” said a government letter. “… You complain about the forced school escort of primary school children by the responsible local police officers. … In order to avoid this in future, the education authority is in conversation with the affected family in order to look for possibilities to bring the religious convictions of the family into line with the unalterable school attendance requirement.”
The current German government has endorsed Hitler’s view of homeschooling. In 2003, the German Supreme Court handed down the Konrad decision in which “religiously or philosophically motivated” homeschooling was banned. Four years later, the German Federal Parliament changed a key provision of German child protection law, making it easier for children to be taken away from their parents for supposed “educational neglect.”