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A rally is being organized to coincide with a court hearing next week for four children who were taken from their parents by a German SWAT-style team armed with a battering ram because they were being homeschooled.
As WND reported, the children, ages 7 to 14, were forcibly taken from their Darmstadt, Germany, home by law-enforcement authorities who told parents Dirk and Petra Wunderlich they won’t see the children again soon.
Then the hate mail started, with one writer, Stefan Schmidt, telling the Home School Legal Defense Association: “Germany is NOT the United States of America. Homeschooling is ILLEGAL by German law. We do neither want to know nor appreciate your opinion on our laws. It is legal in the U.S. so stay there and fight there.”
Schmidt said “these so called parents” have been forcing their beliefs on the children, who have “never had a chance to build up their own opinion.”
“This can be called torture and if (sic) for sure harms the children in their development to [be] free, tolerant and open minded members of the society,” he wrote. “Only to please the parents and only to spread the parents strange ideas, disgusting.”
A German attorney, Andreas Vogt, is working with the family, and the HSLDA, an international association that advocates for parental and family rights worldwide, also has been integral to the case.
Now a Facebook page called “Free the Wunderlich Kids now” has confirmed that there will be a court hearing in the case in Darmstadt Sept. 19.
“Dirk Wunderlich is asking for your support on September 19th: At 13.30 p.m. there will be a court hearing in Darmstadt. On Mathildenplatz you’ll find a park next to the court house which is ideal for a gathering with as many European homeschoolers as possible,” the page organizers said.
“Please let us know in a short email if there would be any persons who are willing to travel to Darmstadt on that date, so we can ask the authorities for permission. It’s not clear yet if the trial is open to the public or not.”
On its own Facebook page, HSLDA noted that in the abstract, individual nations should be able to establish their own laws.
“But, when a nation has voluntarily signed up to obey international human rights obligations – every person and nation in the world has the right to call such a nation to account for violating such human rights standards.”
The statement continued: “This is especially true when the offending nation is Germany. Modern human rights law was created in response to Nazi Germany. And when Germany today uses a law from that era to persecute families who do not want to send their children to the public schools to be indoctrinated by the government, it is the right and duty of every nation on earth to say: Germany keep your promises. Stop abusing the human rights of your citizens.”
The statement said “It is settled beyond dispute that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted in 1948 by the unanimous vote of the UN General Assembly arose, ‘out of the desire to respond forcefully to the evils perpetrated by [National Socialists in] Germany.’ The UDHR’s view regarding parents and children is no exception to this rule. Article 26(3) of the UDHR proclaims: ‘Parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children.’ Numerous human rights instruments have been drafted in reaction to ‘the intrusion of the fascist state into the family’ with its goal of seeking ‘to alienate children from their parents for the purpose of political indoctrination.”
In a report from HSLDA, Vogt said the seizure of the Wunderlich children by the government reminded him of the harsh policies of the former communist East Germany.
“The Wunderlichs have not seen or heard from their children since they were taken and only know that they are currently residing in some kind of group home,” the report said.
The report said Vogt discovered the challenges Germany poses for homeschoolers when he read about the case of Rosemary and Juergen Dudek in 2008, a case on which WND reported.
The Dudeks live in the same state as Vogt, who said he was shocked when he learned that they had been sentenced to jail for homeschooling their children. Vogt offered to represent the Dudeks, saying that it wasn’t right that parents should go to jail over the issue of homeschooling.
In the current case, HSLDA Director of International Affairs Michael Donnelly suggested that the Wunderlichs approach Vogt.
“When I learned that the Wunderlichs were back in Germany in 2012 and that they were having difficulty with the courts, I told them they should seek out Mr. Vogt,” Donnelly said. “I met Andreas through his work with the Dudeks and have great appreciation for the excellence of his work and the spirit with which he represents these families. There aren’t many attorneys like him in Germany, and the homeschool movement there needed his ideas and energy. He has a real sense that these families aren’t being treated with justice and that especially in a civilized country, like Germany, parents should be able to homeschool their children.”
Although the homeschooling ban dates to Hitler, the current German government has endorsed it fully. 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.” In that same year, the case of Katerina Plett, a homeschooling mother who moved with her children to Austria while her husband maintained the family residence in Germany, made its way to the highest criminal court in Germany.
That ruling said “the general public has an interest in thwarting the development of religiously or motivated parallel societies” and “integrating minorities in that regard.”
The court, stunningly, said homeschooling was a form of “child endangerment,” so authorities were justified in using force to take children.
Michael Farris, HSLDA founder, said although the case is in Germany, others should be concerned.
“I want the American homeschool community and other friends of liberty to take note – this mindset isn’t limited to Germany. Many U.S. policymakers and academics agree. … They are even working to see them realized here. So far, thankfully, homeschooling isn’t a legitimate reason (anymore) for the government to kidnap your children if they don’t go to state approved schools,” Farris said.
Donnelly said there are “already too many voices in the United States that want to advance the idea that the state must control education for the safety of the state or other reasons.”
“And this is the same rationale of the German government in perpetrating deplorable acts like this,” he said. “Why should we think it couldn’t or won’t happen here?”
Donnelly asked further: “Can’t a government that can order you to get health care tell you that you don’t qualify for certain life-saving treatments, tell parents they can’t allow their children to get certain kinds of counseling or that they must have a particular kind of medical treatments or that certain religious speech is intolerant and may not be permitted or must be punished, or that only national curricular standards are acceptable for all children, etc. – can’t a government like that order you to send your children to school? And then punish you if you don’t?”
The raid, which took place Aug. 29 at 8 a.m. as the children were beginning their day’s classes, has been described by observers as “brutal and vicious.”
A team of 20 social workers, police and special agents stormed the family’s home. HSLDA reported a Judge Koenig, who is assigned to the Darmstadt family court, signed an order authorizing the immediate seizure of the children by force.
The German judge authorized the raid because the parents didn’t cooperate “with the authorities to send the children to school.”
HSLDA said 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.
The HSLDA has posted online a list of contacts for various German officials linked to the case, including the telephone number for the German embassy in Washington.
Farris added: “Germany has simply not met its obligations under these treaties or as a liberal democracy. HSLDA and I will do whatever we can to help this family regain custody of their children and ensure that they are safe from this persecution. This case demonstrates conclusively why the Romeike asylum case is so important. Families in Germany need a safe place where they can educate their children in peace.”
As WND reported, the Romeike case has been submitted to the U.S. Supreme Court. In 2010, an immigration judge granted asylum in the U.S. to the family, which fled Germany because their children were forced to go to public schools.
The Obama administration, unhappy with the outcome, appealed and obtained an order from a higher court that the family must return to Germany. The Obama administration has argued in court parents essentially have no right to determine how and what their children are taught, leaving the authority with the government.
See a report on the Romeikes:
It was in 1937 when Adolf Hitler said: "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. 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."