Germany's Quest to Stamp Out Home Schooling

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DARMSTADT, Germany -- Another German home schooling family was ripped apart when an army of German police officers and social workers surrounded the home of the Wunderlichs near Frankfurt a few weeks ago and took away their children.

Their crime was home schooling.

After an international outcry and a court hearing, the Wunderlich children were returned. But this was not a victory for parents' rights in Germany because the Wunderlichs have been forced to send their children to school. And they still do not have custody.

Victory for Totalitarian Regime

"This is a victory for a totalitarian regime bent on dictating to parents what they can and cannot do with their children regarding their education," Michael Donnelly, director of International Relations at Home School Legal Defense Association, said.

The German government appears obsessed with stamping out home schooling, which it views as both child abuse and subversive.

The chief organ of state control of families in Germany is the Jugendamt, or Youth Office.

No German parent wants to run afoul of the Jugendamt. Once the Jugendamt decides your family has a problem, it can ruin your family. It is a nationwide system of local child and family agencies that hold extraordinary power.

Jugendamt Abuses

German documents provided to CBN News show the Jugendamt is allowed to lie in court and ignore judges' orders. A number of nations, and even the European Parliament, have complained to Germany about the human rights abuses of the Jugendamt.

Documents provided to CBN News show that German officials have, in fact, lied to the international community about the true nature of the Jugendamt.

When CBN News filmed the Wunderlich family last year because they were taken from  their parents, they were obviously happy and well-adjusted children who loved their parents.

"If you could see them, the children were so lively, so joyful. They had a paradise in our home," Dirk Wunderlich told CBN News. "The can do their interests and they have a very happy life."

But happy and healthy children are no guarantee against the Jugendamt. They can still be taken.

Child Trafficking System?

The arbitrary and capricious way the Jugendamt moves against good families has led some to the conclusion that the system amounts to a child trafficking operation. It is a system in which a steady supply of children is needed to make sure foster homes, social workers, and court-appointed experts get paid.

"There is a system of persons, of social workers, of teachers, psychotherapists, who live on children being taken out of the family," German psychologist Carola Storm-Knirsch said. "We call it industry."

Storm-Knirsch is a psychologist who has worked for the Jugendamt on several cases.

"There are homes with empty beds. And they need children. And they call the Jugendamt and say, 'Hello, do you have a child for us?'" she explained.

Dirk Wunderlich said the system "...destroys humanity. They destroy feelings, heart, all."

"The longer the children remain [in the foster care system], the more they become like zombies," he said.

More Pressure Needed

The Wunderlichs believe that in their case, God intervened and moved the judge's heart to return their children.

But it is not at all clear how long they will have them.

"In a few months the court will have a look at the family and then decide what will happen with custody in general," their attorney, Andreas Vogt, said.

Donnelly said the international community needs to put more pressure on Germany to respect human rights. Today, Russia has more educational freedom than Germany.

"What they're doing is wrong. They're persecuting parents who choose to educate their children at home, and they need to stop doing that," he said.

For now, the Wunderlich children are just happy to be home.

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CBN News
Dale Hurd

Dale Hurd

CBN News Sr. Reporter

A CBN News veteran, Dale Hurd has reported extensively from Western Europe, as well as China, Russia, and Central and South America.  Since 9/11, Dale has reported in depth on various aspects of the global war on terror in the United States and Europe.  Follow Dale on Twitter @HurdontheWeb and "like" him at