Judge denies homeschoolers custody of their four children, so they can’t flee German schools
DARMSTADT, Germany, January 16, 2014 (LifeSiteNews.com) – In a shocking verdict regarding a homeschool case in Germany, a family court judge has refused to return legal custody of four children to Christian parents to prevent the family from obtaining visas that would allow them to travel to a country where homeschooling is permitted.
In his December ruling against the Wunderlich family, judge Marcus Malkmus called homeschooling a “concrete endangerment to the well-being of the child,” comparing it to a “straitjacket” that he said binds children to “years of isolation.”
“The request of the parents to reinstate their right to determine the location of the children, the right to make educational decisions for the children, as well as the right to file legal applications for their children is being refused,” the judge stated.
The Wunderlich family made international headlines in August when a team of 20 social workers, police officers, and special agents stormed the homeschooling family’s residence and forcibly removed the children, ages 7–14.
Parents Dirk and Petra were accused of defying a German ban on home education. The children were returned to the parents in September on condition that the parents send their children to public school. Since the court had awarded legal custody of the children to social workers in 2012, the parents had no choice but to comply.
In his decision, the judge ruled that it was necessary to keep the Wunderlich children in public school for their own “well-being,” arguing that if the children were homeschool in Germany or abroad they would “grow up in a parallel society without having learned to be integrated or to have a dialogue with those who think differently and facing them in the sense of practicing tolerance.”
The judge made these comments despite admitting that the children’s “former homeschooling did not noticeably endanger the child[ren’s] well-being.”
Dirk Wunderlich said the ruling is comparable to what happened under the Nazi regime.
“Judge Malkmus has erected another Berlin Wall apparently designed to prevent all parents who might leave to homeschool from leaving Germany. This is no different than what happened in the former East Germany under communism and before that under the Third Reich,” he told the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA), a U.S. based group assisting the family. “We need help from others around the world to help our country see this terrible violation of human rights.”
HSLDA Chairman Michael Farris told LifeSiteNews.com that the Wunderlich family is “trying to exercise what is supposed to be their inalienable human right to leave a country, but Germany won’t let them.”
“Germany is confirming its position as a leading human rights abuser,” he said.
Farris noted that standards set forth in international law documents — such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights — are being violated, such as the right of parents to direct the education of their children and the right of individuals to leave a country.
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Farris said his group plans to represent the family in international courts.
“I believe that the international diplomatic community will be very concerned about this case,” he said, explaining that while it is not too concerned with the rights of homeschoolers, it is “very concerned” with the rights of individuals and families to leave a country.
“For Germany to deny that top level human right is incredibly dangerous and makes us believe that we are back more in East Germany rather than in modern Germany.”
“The von Trapps had to sneak out of the country and we’re back to that kind of era again where people are facing German oppression. It’s just not right,” he said.
Even if the Wunderlich family is able to flee Germany, there is no guarantee that they will be welcomed elsewhere.
The Romeike family successfully fled Germany to the U.S. in 2008 to continue homeschooling, only to have the Obama administration appeal the decision of a Tennessee judge who had granted the family asylum. The Supreme Court has been petitioned by the HSLDA to hear the case.
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