On these pages, I have written a number of blogs about the Wunderlich family of Germany. My regular readers will remember that Dirk and Petra Wunderlich are Christian believers who home schooled their four children, aged 7 to 14. Last August, the children were taken forcibly from their home in Darmstadt early one morning by a battalion of twenty police, special agents, and social workers as the children began their home school classes. The court order authorizing the seizure of the children by force was signed by Judge Koenig of the Darmstadt family court. Judge Koenig declared that the failure by the parents to cooperate “with the authorities to send the children to school” permitted the use of force against the children. The judge found that the children had “adopted the parents’ opinions’ regarding homeschooling and that no cooperation could be expected” from either the parents or the children. The sturmtruppen then took the children to unknown locations, and German officials promised the parents that they would not be seeing their children anytime soon. However, after great international attention was drawn to this case, Judge Koenig returned the children to their parents three weeks later, but on the condition that the children attend a government school. At the time, I wrote in my blog how the Wunderlichs could come to the United States, blend in a “sanctuary” city, and never be bothered again under the Obama Administration’s immigration enforcement policies. Obviously, some officials in the German government have apparently read that blog after it was posted on the German Embassy Facebook page. At that time, the Wunderlichs began to plan to emigrate from Germany to another country where homeschooling is legal. But in contrast to the arrival of the sturmtruppen at the Wunderlich home, the parents did the honorable thing and sought permission from the court to emigrate to another country. (Would you?) However, in response, the judge told the Wunderlichs that if they left Germany before the next scheduled December hearing, the judge would issue a warrant so that they would be brought back to Germany to face criminal prosecution.
In a recent interview, Dirk Wunderlich said:
What other choice did we have? They had our children. We feel ravaged by the government. We don’t want our children in school, but we have no choice — we can’t leave and if we don’t comply, they will take our children away. We will make the best of it because we know if we tried to leave, the authorities would separate us and we might never see our children again or for a very long time. In the weeks before, it was terrible to think of my children going to school. I’m trying to have a more practical view. We will have a court date in December, and I hope we can get full custody back, and perhaps be able to go where homeschooling is tolerated. Our lawyers have made emergency requests, and we hope perhaps an answer will come sooner. We don’t think we could do this for years, but for a few or more weeks we can. Anyway, we don’t really have any choice.
Regarding the children’s reaction to the government school environment, Mr. Wunderlich said:
The children find it strange and have commented on how confusing the school environment is. They tell me “Papa, the teacher takes a lot of time explaining what we must do and telling the other children to be quiet. We don’t get to actually do most work until we get home.” My youngest son says he misses working on his projects.
An important religious liberty issue that is ignored here is the fundamental human right of parents to teach their children what they believe. In fact, the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights in Article 26(3) states that parents have a “prior right” over the government to choose their children’s education. Although Germany is a party to numerous human rights treaties that recognize the right of parents to provide an education distinct from the government indoctrination schools, this fundamental human right has been taken away in Germany. Please pray for the Wunderlich family, and that God’s justice is done in keeping the Wunderlich family together after the December hearing. Please urge homeschoolers and concerned people to contact the German embassy to protest this violation of Germany’s human rights commitments. To contact the German embassy in Washington, please click here. I know I will write to His Excellency, Ambassador Peter Ammon, since the German Embassy in Washington, D.C., apparently didn’t like my advice to the Wunderlich family last time.