German Parents Lose Custody of Their Children for Homeschooling

Country: Germany

Date of incident: October 5, 2012

A district court in Darmstadt, Germany has revoked custody of four children from their parents and ordered it turned over to the Jugendamt, Germany’s child protective agency.

Dirk Wanderlich, father of four, has good reason to fear that he may eventually lose his children. Homeschooling is illegal in Germany under a law dating back to the Hitler era, and in recent years the country has become increasingly Draconian in enforcing the law – removing children from their families, levying heavy fines, and even sentencing homeschooling parents to jail. Reacting to the Wanderlichs’ case, HSLDA Director for International Relations Michael Donnelly, said, “Homeschooling is a legitimate form of education—Germany’s oppression of people who do it violates their obligation to protect their citizen’s most basic human rights. In the area of educational freedom, Germany is grossly derelict and oppressive.” The Wanderlichs’ search for the freedom to homeschool has taken them all across Europe. The family already had one major scare in France, when social workers came and seized their children. However, upon appeal their children were returned to them, and their right to homeschool was solidly affirmed. But while the Wanderlichs ultimately found tolerance in France, Dirk, a gardener, was unable to find steady work and so the family had to move on. Eventually, after stints in Norway and Hungary, the Wanderlichs returned to their native Germany, where they hoped that their homeschooling would simply go unnoticed. “We hoped we could homeschool without being found out,” says Dirk. “But neighbors turned us in after just a few months. I requested to meet with the school to get them to permit us to homeschool, but they rejected our request for a meeting.”

In the meantime the Wanderlichs are unable even to leave Germany to seek freedom in another country. “We don’t have passports, and even if we did, we could not leave,” Dirk says. “Our children are now under the control of the state. We can’t leave without the state’s permission.” Desperate and at their wit’s end, the Wanderlichs are reaching out for help. “I am just one person, and I cannot fight against the power of the state even though I must for my children’s sake,” says Dirk. “We need help from others. I have asked HSLDA to inform the UN special rapporteur on education. We have no choice but to fight, because we feel it is our duty to homeschool our children.” We thank LifeSiteNews for reporting. For more, please view: