Wednesday January 9, 2008

German Homeschooling Family Flees to England After Mayor Attempts to Seize Children

By Peter J. Smith

LONDON, January 9, 2008 ( – A German family has fled to safe haven in the United Kingdom after the mayor of their town attempted to have their children seized and put into state custody for the crime of homeschooling according to WorldNetDaily (WND).

WND reports that officials with Netzwerk-Bildungsfreiheit, a German homeschooling advocacy group, said that Klaus and Kathrin Landahl and their five children, “are in safety in England. They reached Dover on Saturday midnight.”

The Landahl family was preparing to leave the country and had deregistered themselves as German citizens, when the Mayor of Altensteig filed a lawsuit with the local family court demanding it intervene and take custody away from the Landahls.

A spokesman for the advocacy group told WND, “As the mayor knows that the family wants to leave Germany and that they have deregistered, his attempt is that the family court takes custody away in a so-called … (preliminary warrant) which means that custody can be taken away without a hearing [for] the parents.”

He added also that in the Landahl case, not only were the authorities seeking to usurp the parents’ right to decide their children’s education, but also their right “to determine the place of abode,” an action more in line with Soviet-era East Germany.

The Landahls were in the process of moving into a rented apartment abroad when the court served them with a legal notice of the lawsuit.

Joel Thornton, President of the International Human Rights Group, which advocate for homeschoolers in Germany, told that the report from Netzwerk-Bildungsfreiheit is troubling since, “German government officials are willing to violate their own procedures to take the custody of children from the parents for nothing more than homeschooling. Were there criminal activity going on that was being avoided it would be understandable, however the system would probably not be so quick to act.”

It is outrageous that children would be separated from their parents over this issue. The German courts need to move to protect the well being of their families from such severe government action,” Thornton said.

“Every parent in the world, not just homeschool parents, should be outraged that their rights are trampled by the Mayor of this town”, he said. “Parents should express their outrage to the Mayor by email and let him know that this is not acceptable behavior in civilized countries.”

The local court has not issued a final ruling in the case, but ever since Germany’s Supreme Court ruled in favour of the state against homeschooling last fall, most families have found safety to exist in flight.

WND reports that this week a Bavarian man identifying himself as “Mathew” sent this message: “This morning we received a call from the German ministry of education. Tomorrow (Wednesday) morning they will send the police to our home and take Josia (6), Lou Ann (10) and Aileen (13) by force, to the public school.”

According to “Matthew,” the government was emboldened by the high court’s decision, and since then it has increased substantially its persecution of homeschooling families.

“If we do not comply the government will ultimately revoke our rights as parents and take custody of our children,” he said.

Another family said they were escaping Germany after their lawyer concluded that “only jail and loss of custody are left” as penalties from the government.

“We are leaving Germany for now, and our children and my husband Tilman have already given up their permanent residence in Germany,” said a note from Dagmar Neubronner. “I will maintain my permanent residence in Bremen because I am the bearer of our small publishing house…”

“It is hard to leave everything behind, especially our tomcat (a neighbor will take care of him), our relatives and friends and choirs and music ensembles and sports teams, our house and garden – our town and our country.”

To contact the Mayor of Altensteig:

Herr Bürgermeister
Jürgen Großman
Rathausplatz 1
72213 Altensteig
Phone: 0 75 53 / 94 61-117 Go ahead and write, email or fax, in English if necessary.

See Laigle’s Forum website:…

See related coverage by

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German Homeschooler Melissa Busekros Home with Family after 3 Month Ordeal

Three More Families Appeal for Help as Germany Continues Crackdown on Homeschooling Families

German Court Places Custody of Yet Another 5 Homeschooling Children with Government’s Youth Office

Authorities Ask German Homeschooling Family to Give up Custody of Other 5 Children

European Human Rights Court Rules State May Deny Parents Right to Home School Their Children ;