In an early morning raid last week, a SWAT team stormed a residence in residence near Darmstadt, Germany. “I looked through a window and saw many people, police, and special agents, all armed,” says Dirk Wunderlich. “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.”
“The police shoved me into a chair and wouldn’t let me even make a phone call at first,” added Wunderlich. “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.”
Social workers forcibly removed four children, aged 7 to 14, from the home and put them in state custody. “When I went outside, our neighbor was crying as she watched,” said Wunderlich. “I turned around to see my daughter being escorted as if she were a criminal by two big policemen. They weren’t being nice at all. When my wife tried to give my daughter a kiss and a hug goodbye, one of the special agents roughly elbowed her out of the way and said—‘It’s too late for that.’ What kind of government acts like this?”
The Wunderlich children were taken away because their parents committed a serious crime in Germany: homeschooling.
According to the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA), a Darmstadt family court judge, signed the order authorizing the immediate seizure of Dirk and Petra Wunderlich’s children. 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” if necessary, 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 reviewed the legal documents and found the only grounds for removal were the family’s continuation of homeschooling their children. The papers contain no other allegations of abuse or neglect. Germany has not even alleged educational neglect for failing to provide an adequate education; the law simply ignores the educational progress of the child.
“The right to homeschool is a human right,” said SLDA Chairman and Founder Michael Farris. “So is the right to freely move and to leave a country. Germany has grossly violated these rights of this family. This latest act of seizing these four beautiful, innocent children is an outrageous act of a rogue nation.”
Unfortunately, both the German and American governments disagree with Farris’ claim that homeschooling is a human right. In a similar case of German homeschooling family that sought political asylum, President Obama’s Justice Department argued that asylum should be denied based on their contention that governments may legitimately use its authority to force parents to send their kids to government-sanctioned schools.
“My question to the political leadership of Germany is,” says HSLDA Director for International Affairs Mike Donnelly, “How long will you permit these kinds of brutal acts to be perpetrated against German families? Why is it so important to you to force people into your state schools? The echo of this act rings from a darker time in German history. When will leaders stand up and make changes so that brutality to children like the Wunderlichs no longer happens because of homeschooling?”