On these pages, I have written a number of blogs over the past several years about the travails of the Wunderlich family of Darmstadt, Germany. Dirk and Petra Wunderlich are devout Christian believers and the parents of four children, aged 8 to 15. In August 2013, the children were taken forcibly from their home by a SWAT team of twenty police, special agents, and social workers as the children began their morning home school classes. Were the children being abused? Actually, the children were taken into custody because their parents insisted on homeschooling their children, which is illegal under German law. Following an international outcry, a Darmstadt court returned the Wunderlich children to their parents, but only on the condition that the parents promise to send the children to a government school. The parents complied with the court’s order. The parents were granted guardianship of their children, but not legal custody. But rather than disappearing into the night by crossing German borders, the Wunderlichs petitioned the court for permission to emigrate from Germany to another country where homeschooling is permitted. However, in late 2013, the Honorable Judge Malkmus slammed the door on the emigration hopes of the Wunderlich family. Judge Malkmus stated that it was necessary to keep the Wunderlich children in German government schools to ensure that they were integrated into society. If they were allowed to be homeschooled in Germany or anywhere else, the Judge reasoned, the consequences might be that “the children would grow up in a parallel society without having learned to be integrated or to have a dialogue who those who think differently and facing them in the sense of practicing tolerance.” Finally, Judge Malkmus concluded that homeschooling creates “concrete endangerment to the well-being of the child.” (Of course, the Honorable Judge failed to cite any evidence before the court in support of his conclusions. Judge Malkmus’s written orders are available here in an unofficial English translation, and in the official German-language version here).
But now, in the German legal tradition in which more prosecution, more force, and more penalties and fines is the most effective strategy to force the Wunderlich family to submit to the uber-will of Leviathan. After the children were originally taken into custody in August 2013, the children were sent to government schools for a time. Although the children were unhappy in their secular government school, there were no further issues until March 2014 when a new lawyer began to represent the local school board. In a likely effort to ingratiate himself with the local government officials, the new lawyer sent a “notice of enforcement” requiring the Wunderlich children to attend particular classes. Shortly thereafter, the school board attorney followed with a “demand for prosecution,” which provided for a six month prison sentence for the feisty parents. In response to the ham-fisted and authoritarian conduct by the school board attorney, the Wunderlichs deregistered the children from the government school, and brought them back home for their education. By failing to comply with the “notice of enforcement,” the German government can now assess penalties and fines of up to 50,000 Euros (almost $68,000) against the Wunderlich family, as well as seizure of the family’s bank account and other assets. Michael Donnelly, director of global outreach for the Home School Legal Defense Association (http://www.hslda.org/), who has been involved with the Wunderlich case from its beginning, stated recently:
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. 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. 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 . . . 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. 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.
Emphasis added. The anti-homeschool law in Germany was part of Adolf Hitler’s notion of government schools as a means of indoctrination. The Fuhrer famously said, “[The] 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.” In 2003, the German Federal Constitutional Court (equivalent to our nation’s Supreme Court) affirmed that the ban on homeschooling serves “a justified interest in counteracting the development of religiously or philosophically motivated ‘parallel societies.’” Four years later, the German Federal Parliament changed a provision of Germany’s child protection law making it easier for children to be removed from their parents upon allegations of “educational neglect.” So now, the official policy of the German government endorses the Fuhrer’s view of homeschooling. Please continue to pray for the Wunderlich family and for justice in this important case. If you wish to write to the German Ambassador to the United States regarding this matter, you can reach His Excellency, the Honorable Peter Wittig at https://www.germany.info/Vertretung/usa/en/Kontakt.html. I certainly will let him know my views on this sad matter.