Bob Unruh joined WND in 2006 after nearly three decades with the Associated Press, as well as several Upper Midwest newspapers, where he covered everything from legislative battles and sports to tornadoes and homicidal survivalists. He is also a photographer whose scenic work has been used commercially.More ↓Less ↑
Four children of a family that fled Germany to avoid further fines for homeschooling have been snatched from their home in France by police and accused of “being alone,” according to a report today on the ongoing war against home education across the continent.
The report said two French social workers and two police officers appeared without notice at the home of Dominique Chanal in St. Leonard, France, where Dirk and Angela Wunderlich and their children have lived since July.
“The four officials told a stunned Mrs. Wunderlich that they had come at the request of German authorities and that they had to take the family’s four young children because they were ‘in grave danger,’” the HSLDA report confirmed.
“A copy of the report justifying immediate seizure of the children was obtained by HSLDA. The reasons given for the seizure were that the children were ‘socially isolated,’ not in school and that there was a ‘flight risk,’ – none of which appear to be true,” the report said.
The family fled Germany because of a series of fines imposed for homeschooling and the concern that German authorities inside Germany would take custody of the children.
After the children were seized by French authorities, the Wunderlichs contacted their lawyers in Germany, and they now are being represented by a local attorney in France.
Armin Eckermann, chief of a German group involved in defending homeschoolers, told the HSLDA that when he contacted Germany authorities, they denied asking French police to get involved.
The children were taken into custody Sept. 28, and it was three days before the parents were allowed to see them again.
“The social workers told us that the reason they took our children was because they ‘have no contact with other children, that school education is guaranteed and that you are a risk of escape.’ But this is nonsense, as anyone who knows our family can tell,” the parents said in a statement.
Michael Donnelly, a staff attorney with the HSLDA who is familiar with a number of egregious persecution cases coming out of Germany, said the development is alarming.
“We are concerned about the increase in negative treatment of homeschoolers in Europe. This apparent trend is counter to all the evidence that shows that homeschooling is effective both academically and socially. Because homeschoolers in Europe are relatively few, it is important that homeschoolers in America encourage and support them,” he said.
The HSLDA noted that another family, Uwe and Hannalore Romeike, now has a political asylum request pending in the U.S. because of the potential for persecution should they be forced to return to Germany.
Immigration Judge Lawrence O. Burman has scheduled a hearing on the case Dec. 16 in Memphis, Tenn.
The landlady for the Wunderlich family said she was shocked.
“This is a wonderful family,” Chanal told HSLDA. “There are always children coming to the home to play with the children and my daughter. It is like a school in our house.
“These are very good parents who protect their children from dangers. They are better parents than most parents in France, because they do not let the children wander the streets or get involved in other bad behavior,” she said.
“I believe that this was an illegal act by the German Youth Welfare Office. We are no longer residents of Germany,” Dirk Wunderlich said. “As citizens of the European Union we have the right to free mobility, and we are complying [with] French education laws. The Germans should leave us alone.”
Donnelly reported another family, still in Germany, has been assigned a new trial date of Nov. 16. Juergen and Rosemarie Dudek of Archfeldt, Germany, previously were sentenced to 90 days in prison for homeschooling their own children.
The penalty earlier was overturned on technical grounds, and they have been ordered to a new trial.
The HSLDA warned that the behavior of German authorities is a foreshadowing of what American parents should expect if the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child ever is ratified in the U.S. Its concerns are detailed at Parental Rights.
WND reported recently on a similar situation in Sweden in which authorities snatched a 7-year-old child from an airplane on which he and his parents were moving to India.
Annie and Dominic Johansson
The HSLDA has dispatched a formal letter to a local Swedish social services unit involved in the case in which Dominic Johansson, of Gotland, was forcibly taken into custody minutes before he and his parents, Christer and Annie Johansson, were due to take off to start a new life in India, Annie’s home country.
“This kind of gross disregard for family integrity and simple human decency is becoming the hallmark of countries like Germany, and now apparently Sweden,” Donnelly said at the time, “where the state is more interested in coerced uniformity than in protecting fundamental human rights and fostering pluralism.”