At 8:00 a.m. on Thursday, August 29, 2013, in what has been called a “brutal and vicious act,” a team of 20 social workers, police officers, and special agents stormed a homeschooling family’s residence near Darmstadt, Germany, forcibly removing all four of the family’s children (ages 7-14). The sole grounds for removal were that the parents, Dirk and Petra Wunderlich, continued to homeschool their children in defiance of a German ban on home education.
Dirk Wunderlich wrote an eyewitness report on what happened on this day. This report was translated in English for Tuisskolers.Org by Glendon McGill and is published below.
Children put in protective custody in 2013-- for their own good?
"Marriage and the family enjoy special protection of the state." - (Article 6, Section 1 of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Germany)
"Only the thought police were to be feared." - Orwell, 1984
How it happened
On Thursday 29 August, around 08h00, about 20 officials stormed the house where we live in Wembach, a residential area of Ober-Ramstadt which is 12 km south east of Darmstadt. (Darmstadt lies south of Frankfurt.) The officials consisted of Task Force members (Spezialeinsatzkommandos), in plain clothes, members of the judiciary, a section leader and coworkers of Youth Welfare (commissioned by law), “escorts” for our four children (commissioned by Youth Welfare), official minders for our children (aged seven to fourteen years) as well as a number of “professional” educators.
As our neighbours were to tell us later, a massive convoy had appeared in our street. The Task Force surrounded our house, and so doing entered a neighbour's property with that person's objections being disregarded. Finally, they rang the doorbell, just after eight. For an hour we had been earnestly discussing the various learning areas with our eldest three children. In state schools, such “dissipation of knowledge” periods cover more than 100 hours. Given the time that the bell rang, it became clear that the authorities were at our door. However, we thought that it was the welfare authorities, finally accompanied by normal police, who wanted to put the children through a learning assessment. As a precaution, I thus went to the bathroom with the intention of speaking to the authorities through the window there. To my great surprise, I suddenly realised that the protective custody arrest of our children-- a scenario we'd dreaded for years-- was upon us. This was emphasised by the unknown faces to be seen and the sheer number of them.
A self-conscious, energetic man of about thirty, whom I later realised was the leader of the raid, immediately announced, “Mr Wunderlich, we must talk to you, so please open the door.” I replied, “We could also speak quite well, here at the window.” At that, he ordered, “Open the door!” Another man, the bailiff, piped up, “Mr Wunderlich, if you won't open the door, we'll have to break it down.” I asked, “Why must you break it down?” This question was left unanswered and instead the raid leader called two names and two Task Force members materialised from the background. They had a metre-long cylindrical device which was a battering ram and took position in front of the little step of our house's door. “Will you open now?” the raid leader asked. I signalled my surrender and went to open the door.
Right in front of me stood the bailiff who immediately handed me a court decision of 28 August 2013 reached by Judge Daniela König of the family court of Darmstadt, in which was ordered that our children be “handed over to the Youth Welfare of Darmstad-Dieburg”. The bailiff thus tasked was permitted to “use force against the children if necessary” That, however, I only read later as I didn't have my reading glasses at that time.
A lot of things happened next and I only remember snippets of the confusion. There was a continuous stream of people entering our house. I was body-searched by two Task Force members and frogmarched from there. I was told to sit. On several attempts to rise, I was pushed down and ordered, “Stay seated!” Then I was refused leave to go to the telephone and call my legal representative. My suggestion that the court order surely wouldn't justify my being robbed of a number of constitutional rights was left unanswered.
During this, a number of people surrounded our children and tried to create the impression that they inevitably had to go along. For their part, our children made it clear they would not do that. Straightaway, my eldest daughter embraced my youngest protectively and my 12-year old son brandished a hammer, showing his defensive intention.
My wife was old to get the children to go along. Outraged, she refused the request. In the meantime, I was permitted to call my lawyer, Dr Vogt in Eschwege. En route to my desk, where there's a handset for our landline, every move I made was curtailed. Apparently, it was feared that I would make some uncontrolled, violent move. (Only the next day, being in possession of the application of Youth Welfare which lead to the court decision, could I make sense of such excessive precaution; more about that later.)
After several attempts, I succeeded in contacting my lawyer, Dr Vogt. From the start it was clear to him that at this stage of the effecting of the protective custody of our children, nothing could be done to oppose it and that I should call again once everybody had left. Accompanied by my bodyguards I went over to my neighbour to ask her to take photos.
The two officials repeatedly stressed that I was only to ring the bell and under no circumstances was I to enter the house. The neighbour, who was born in Andalucia, came out, and immediately and tearfully implored me to put my children in school and not to “get up to sh__.” All the time, I was trying to calm her and could not get to my own request. the photos. This even became too much for the officials who told her to give me a break.
In the meantime, the three youngest children had been put in two separate cars. I was permitted to say goodbye briefly. Going back into the house I met my eldest daughter who was being forcefully removed from the house by two Task Force officials and resisting. On returning to give my son the Bible, my daughter was in the car too. A warrior's expression was her farewell. The other three waved apathetically at our parting.
All this time, my wife was trying to persuade Mr Behnis (Section Director of Youth Welfare) to agree to not placing the children in a children's home if we'd be prepared to put enroll them in a school. In these conversations, Mr Behnis seemed to indicate that enrollment in a school could reverse everything. In a conversation in his office the same day at 14h00, with Mr Vogt, who had hurriedly travelled there, he didn't want to know anything about it and repeatedly emphasised that the children's being returned would not happen “in one or two days”. He even arrived at the nonsensical idea that our children would be “totally confused” by such a change of heart and would therefore be better off staying in the institution. When we read of this request a day later, it became clear that he sees it as his job to “save” the children from their parents.
Later, my wife told me how she overheard a Task Force official saying to his colleague, as he pointed to his watch, “We can't hang around much later; we must get out of here and not see the Press arriving.” Thus it became clear later that everything had been thoroughly planned, also in terms of time. In her conversations with Mr Behnis, my wife was totally unaware of the children being removed. Only when our eldest daughter was lead/ carried out, by two Task Force officials, did she ask to say goodbye. She was elbowed by an official who remarked, “No, there's no time for that.” Soon after that, they'd all vanished, much like a ghost.
Three days earlier, on 26 August 2013, a meeting had taken place in the chambers of Youth Welfare. The following were present: Klaus Behnis (Section Director of Youth Aid), Mr Harms (official guardian), Susanne Hajdu (School Authority Director), Christa Lettau (Juror for School Authority), Ms Baier (coworker of Youth Welfare) who was standing in for Bettina Kissel (“our” actual coworker), Dr Andreas Vogt (our representative) and both of us, the parents.
Earlier, in June, Youth Welfare had applied for an extensive order for deprivation of right to custody to enforce the obviously necessary change to a special school. Since our lawyer had declined that the case appear before the presiding judge through an application declining that judge (for reason of concern regarding partiality), the process was adjourned. Since the new school year had started on 19 August, it seems Youth Welfare (along with the School Authority) wanted to settle with us.
After a short introduction by Mr Behnis, a Russian German family head was called in who had cofounded a private, Christian school in Darmstadt, the Georg Mueller School. This school has been the subject of investigative trials, with the involvement of Ms Hajdu too, and has come out on top, thus far. This father told of the establishment of the school and its objectives. After his presentation, my wife and I were asked if we had any questions, and we said no. At that, this father was so to say dismissed.
We were then asked if we could consider taking our children there. I declined, and once more referred to how we had made our position clear before the Family Court with its application for deprivation of right to custody on 17/08/2012. We rejected school as such as an option since we see it as an unnatural, artificial environment which stifles learning, curiosity etc. rather than promoting them and that for us, at least, it could never be a question of a school's orientation.
This statement gave early clarification that we actually have no alternative to home schooling, the same also being a matter of conscience. Further back and forth discussion for some time did not lead to any result but far rather hardened stances on both fronts. My wife's offer to enroll the children in state-run distance education (Studiengemeinschaft Darmstadt or Institut für Lernsysteme), which would also lead to state-recognised qualifications, was not even considered.
Mr Behnis' face plainly showed that he was most dissatisfied with the course of the discussion and he brought the proceedings to a speedy conclusion. At that point it had become clear that he saw taking custody of the children to be the only means to ensuring the good of the children (in the eyes of the state). As we left, further verbal blows were exchanged between Mr Behnis and me. I stated that our children were “neither the property of the state, nor of the general public.” Behnis replied, “But they're not your property either.” Emphatically, I replied, “But they are indeed just that!”
At this point I should diverge in the knowledge that we've be so conditioned for 40 years, that we'd collapse at the mere whiff of such an outrageous claim. A year ago, I too would not have used the word property, had I not read Aldous Huxley's Brave New World. Here I chanced upon two most interesting statements. In his famous novel (much the same as 1984), the social general tenor of every society is repeated (six times):
Every one belongs to everyone else. (1)
When I read that, I came to the conscious realisation that this very claim, although hardly visible and unknown, hangs over every citizen. When one attentively reads Constitutional Judgments or reports on the family by the Federal Government, one finds this very pronouncement in them: Every one belongs to every one else.
To explain: ”The general public has a justified interest in counteracting the development of religiously or philosophically motivated ‘parallel societies’ and in integrating minorities in this area. Integration does not only require that the majority of the population does not exclude religious or ideological minorities, but, in fact, that these minorities do not segregate themselves and that they do not close themselves off to a dialogue with dissenters and people of other beliefs. Dialogue with such minorities is an enrichment for an open pluralistic society” (2)
The existence of a “general public” as such is a myth. This nebulous concept gets invoked whenever the state wants wants to validate an illegitimate demand and that whilst hiding the fact that the state itself is behind the demand. But supposing there was such a general public with a real interest in “counteracting the development of religiously or philosophically motivated ‘parallel societies’ ” it would still be far from a justified interest, as it’s trumpeted here, unless a credible explanation followed. Further, it’s not “integration” as such that some party “requires” but the state “requires” a form of “integration,” to which it has no right. The citizens have been long accustomed to such thinking due to propaganda and conditioning, and yet it remains wrong and illegitimate. Such social engineering is fundamental to the domination in both classics about negative utopias (Nineteen Eighty-four and Brave New World). The means of effecting this domination differs immensely in the two books but it’s nothing less than a subtle form of terror.
This terror can be discerned in the fact that pluralism, as practised in the Federal Republic, is not content with citizens taking note of other faiths and allow those of other persuasions to live out their convictions with their lives reflecting these, which would be true tolerance. According to state requirements, citizens (and especially school-goers) may “not close themselves off to a dialogue with dissenters and people of other beliefs.” This clearly sets up a number of constraints. Firstly, the state can force a scholar into such a “dialogue.” Although the scholar may see no point in this, he’s not permitted to “close himself off.” Secondly, the actual goal is hidden inside the given framework of such a dialogue: the scholar with clear and strong convictions is indirectly forced to lay aside his “prejudices” (although he actually doesn’t have any) and at least accept that the conviction of another has the same validity as his own. Nothing irks tolerant types like the violation of a taboo and nothing is more politically incorrect. The intimidation subsists in this, that a priori, an absolute (but invisible) “Truth” is established, that there may be no more absolute truth (relativism), secondly, that one can be forced into a “dialogue” and thirdly, that one must finally give up those relativistic dogmas of his own conviction to avoid “discrimination” towards others.
The means to this end, the “instrument”, school, subjects its brood to true indoctrination in this manner. The younger the child, the greater the state’s chance of success. When disgruntled parents like us withdraw their children from the system, the state becomes extremely disgruntled. The reason: the state has to face the reality that our children can develop rock-solid convictions which can no longer be demolished, but which are officially not permitted to exist. The terror of compulsory socialisation is based on enlightening arguments, which however are found void of any legitimacy once scrutinised.
So it gets really interesting when Aldous Huxley’s character, Mustapha Mond, Resident World Controller, extensively quotes John Henry Newman (1801–1890) and compares his rational thinking to the state-imposed “happiness” of that utopian society:
He opened the book at the place marked by a slip of paper and began to read. “ ‘We are not our own any more than what we possess is our own. We did not make ourselves, we cannot be supreme over ourselves. We are not our own masters. We are God’s property. Is it not our happiness thus to view the matter? Is it any happiness or any comfort, to consider that we are our own? It may be thought so by the young and prosperous. These may think it a great thing to have everything, as they suppose, their own way—to depend on no one—to have to think of nothing out of sight, to be without the irksomeness of continual acknowledgment, continual prayer, continual reference of what they do to the will of another. But as time goes on, they, as all men, will find that independence was not made for man—that it is an unnatural state—will do for a while, but will not carry us on safely to the end …’ ” (3)
Thus it becomes clear that our children belongs precisely not to “every one else.” They’re firstly ours and then God’s property. For, when all creatures are “God’s property” (and how could it be otherwise?), children are naturally their parent’s “property” with respect to their guardianship. At that, the word “property” does not signify possession but rather “a heritage of the LORD“ (Psalm 127:3) to us, the parents and no-one else! Our appropriate rights and privileges are bestowed by God’s Word and not the state. The “peculiar” relationship between parents and children is only dissolved when the children reach adulthood:
Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh. (4)
Finally, it can be stated that we parents have received an education mandate from God—which the state hasn’t and yet it executes such—to admonish children concerning their creative responsibility towards God and send them into and to the world under such instruction. There can be no “neutrality.” Even the neutrality the state pretends is unmasked by reality as an extremely one-sided ideology. An apparently tolerant pluralism, which just cannot be (and yet presents itself as the “truth”) is destined (and chained) to relativism.
As a result of gaining this new consciousness, I proclaimed to Mr. Behnis, “Our children are our property!” My conscious emphasis of “our” was to clearly draw a line before the state which ultimately has no education right or mandate to enforce on all German children (not even the non Christians). From what Mr. Behnis made of this, I wish to ascribe evil intention to him (once again):
In religious zeal and the attitude of seeing children as possession, we see the danger of unjustifiable action being taken in the name of protecting the children. (5)
Nowadays, such phrases justify totally excessive and disproportionate intervention in family life. Another example of such phrases being bandied about:
The conclusion of the conversation on 08/26/2013 is that the requirement of compulsory schooling cannot be fulfilled by the family. From now on, the family will undermine all requests for the children’s daily attendance of a school. The parents create situations in which the children themselves defy their minders and other adults involved. Their parents expect them to actively disregard laws and court decisions. In our opinion, this is an abusive exercise of parental care and authority. In their war on general compulsory schooling, the parents are banking on the children seeing society and its relevant norms as increasingly hostile and repressive. They do not admit to doing their children any harm through this.
Firstly, not we the parents do “create situations in which the children themselves defy their minders and other adults involved.” This is since resulting from the decisions of 6 September 2012, that we have no competence in “school affairs” anymore, the authority’s court has created the situation that we can’t stand in the way of our children. Such pronouncements are clumsy manipulations of reality.
Secondly, we do not “expect“ our children to “actively disregard laws and court decisions.” The reality is that our children know well that they don’t want to attend school. Since compulsory schooling has no legitimacy—whatever “laws and court decisions” are invoked—and our children know from having been abroad that there doesn’t have to be compulsory schooling, they’re plainly exercising their right to decide for themselves.
Thirdly, “in our opinion, [it’s] an abusive exercise” of state authority to compel children to attend school and as need be to separate them from their parents.
Fourthly: Our children don't see “society and its relevant norms as increasingly hostile and repressive” but solely the state, which is increasingly limiting the freedoms and constitutional rights of its citizens (even confining them within the borders (6). Their situation right now couldn't be any more hostile and threatening and they're unlikely to forget it as long as they live.
Fifthly; The fact that it's Mr Behnis who's doing our children irreparable “harm” is something he apparently does “not admit to”. What manner of blind fanaticism would possess one to be so convinced of doing our children “good”?
Bad, but actually downright evil, would be resorting to the following to give the court application some more punch to help it succeed (given that such “urgent applications” have lofty hurdles to clear)...
From an anonymous source on 11/09/2012, i.e. shortly after the adoption of the authority's decision, it was brought to our attention that Mr Wunderlich, in a letter to the neighbours, stated the children to be his property and that if need be, he'd kill them to protect them from sate intervention. This anonymous communique could not be verified and we don't have such a letter in our possession. Notwithstanding, we cannot rule out the possibility of rash action in the face of mounting pressure on the family. Mr Wunderlich seems to consider it his calling to assume the role of a homeschooling martyr. (6)
That shed light on the Task Force's behaviour.
Firstly: Such a “letter to the neighbours” obviously doesn't exist.
Secondly: To anybody contemplating the matter for five seconds, it's clear that no father would ever write such letters to the neighbours. Any father would doubtless consider that a (truly concerned) neighbour would approach the authorities.
Thirdly: The anonymous communique took place almost a year ago. Why would “rash action” only be expected now?
Fourthly: Since 11/09/2012, several visits by state authorities took place (with police present too). Why were these then peaceful and without film-like scenes (unlike the raid on 29/08/2013)?
Fifthly: Why was the anonymous communique left “unverified”? Unfortunately, Youth Welfare officials don't consult their files. Incidentally, this ruse of children being in mortal danger was also brought to bear on the Gorber family of Überlingen and the six children were moved to a children's home at the beginning of January 2008. The reason: a policeman in the neighbourhood told Youth Welfare the father was physically unstable and with the mother being in hospital, there was the danger of a family killing. Of course, this was all nonsense but it took almost a year for the presiding family judge to finally be persuaded that the family relationships were most stable.
Sixthly: Had such a letter actually existed, it would surely have been made accessible to Youth Welfare for the sake of credibility. However, “ we don't have such a letter in our possession”...”Notwithstanding” – The modus operandi of German Youth Welfare authorities is plain incredible.
In addressing the refusal of schooling, the state far exceeds its limits. The excesses we were subjected too are not the only ones. The Romeike family did not flee to the USA to seek asylum on account of “alleged persecution” since they “felt” persecuted as SPIEGEL ONLINE euphemistically distorted the matter,7 but because here, in Germany, persecution is a reality. 8 It's time for this state-imposed terror to come to an end.
Dirk Wunderlich 1 September 2013
Photo : Mike Farris of the HSLDA with the Wunderlich family
(1) Aldous Huxley: Schöne Neue Welt. Fischer Taschenbuch Verlag, Frankfurt 200361, S. 54, 57, 60, 127,133, 204.
(2) BVerfG, 2 BvR 1693/04 (Nichtannahmebeschluß) vom 31.5.2006, Abs. 18.
(3) Brave New World, p. 223.
(4) THE BIBLE; Genesis 2:24.
(5) Motion for issuance of temporary restraining order in accordance with § 49 FamFG concerning the Wunderlich children from 08-27-2013, p. 3.
(6) This is accomplished by Youth Welfare having the right to decide that the children must remain within Germany. The children may not leave the country and if they did (along with us parents), we'd be hunted down with an international warrant of arrest for “kidnapping”.
(7) SPIEGEL ONLINE: USA gewähren deutscher Familie politisches Asyl/ USA grants German family political asylum (27-01-2010).
(8) BGH, XII ZB 41/07 (Sorgerechtsentzug bei Verletzung der Schulpflicht/ Deprivation of right to custody due to compulsory education violation). – Ein Auszug des Urteils mit den schlimmsten (und falschen) Behauptungen kann man hier finden/ An excerpt of the judgment and the worst statements (also untrue) can be found here ( www.hedua.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/BGH- Sorgerechtsentzug-bei-Verletzung-der-Schulpflicht-XII-ZB-41-07-german-abstract.pdf (08-12-2012))