By Peter J. Smith

  BERLIN, April 16, 2007 ( – Three more German families have issued an international appeal for help against the German government’s stepped up persecution against Christian homeschooling families, which has been condemned by the UN for its inflexible and intolerant school system.

  The International Human Rights Group, which has been championing the case of Melissa Busekros – a German home schooled student seized from her home two months ago by the Jugendamt (Youth Welfare Office) and police forces – and other German homeschooling families, met last week with a group of homeschooling families in Bischofswerda, a small town in the state of Saxony.

  Three families gave IHRG a letter describing their battle with the government, which has dedicated itself to vigorously enforcing Chancellor Adolf Hitler’s 1938 edict banning homeschooling and enforcing compulsory education.

  The letter from the Schneider, Harder, and Krautter families shows how they have endured crippling fines over €5,000, and face threats of arrest, or loss of custody of their children. Officials have seized government stipends earmarked for home improvements, frozen bank accounts, and threatened to take away their homes as payment for the fines.

  IHRG also met with the Brause family, who lost legal custody of their children to the Jugendamt, the youth welfare office instituted by Hitler in 1939 to oversee families politically. The Jugendamt has requested the parents come in for a meeting this week, a possible prelude to actual seizure of children.

  Joel Thornton, president of IHRG, believes that Melissa Busekros may be home within a few weeks telling that the organization is doing much work behind the scenes to get Melissa home.

  While IHRG reported that the family of Melissa Busekros has been thankful of the support they have received, including 200 letters and cards, Thornton believes American homeschooling families do yet not understand the importance of the situation.

“I think that homeschoolers have shown some support, but American home school families feel secure in where they are and are therefore less inclined to be overly concerned about what is happening in Germany,” Thornton told in an e-mail. “Germany appears to many Americans to be an anomaly.”

  However, Michael Donnelly of the Home School Legal Defense Association told that what happens to homeschooling families in Germany will have great repercussions on the Continent where Germany has enormous influence, and European nations are closely watching Germany’s treatment of homeschooling families.

“If Germany continues to behave in this way and get away with it, this will empower other anti-homeschooling groups … to get away with cracking down on homeschoolers and home school freedoms more,” said Donnelly, who added that officials in several countries are taking a cue from Germany and beginning to tighten restrictions on homeschoolers.

  In France, Donnelly explained, efforts were made to curtail homeschooling after the Konrad v. Germany decision in September 2006, when the European Court of Human Rights ruled in favour of Germany against a homeschooling family. The Court stated that “Parents may not refuse the right to education of a child on the basis of their convictions” and added that the right to education “by its very nature calls for regulation by the State.”

  The effects are not limited to Europe as home school opponents in the United States could use normalisation of Germany’s repressive treatment of homeschoolers as an example to follow. US courts could also look to German law and Konrad as a basis for ruling against the rights of families to home school their children.

  However, Germany’s actions have not gone unnoticed by the United Nations, which criticized Germany for its education system.

“The promotion and development of a system of public, government-funded education should not entail the suppression of forms of education that do not require attendance at a school,” said the UN report by Special Rapporteur on the right to education, Vernor Muñoz. “In this context, the Special Rapporteur received complaints about threats to withdraw the parental rights of parents who chose home-schooling methods for their children.”

  Muñoz said both “distance learning methods and home schooling represent valid options” and were in keeping with parents’ rights to choose education for their children under article 13 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

  See the UN report by Special Rapporteur on the right to education, Vernor Muñoz

  To contact the Busekros family:

  Busekros Family
  Schallershofer Straße 72a
  D-91056 Erlangen

  To contact the German embassies in Canada and the United States.
  In Canada:

  German Embassy
  1 Waverley Street
  Ottawa, ON, K2P 0T8
  Tel.: 613-232-1101 Fax: 613-594-9330
  Email: [email protected]

  In the US:

  German Embassy
  4645 Reservoir Road NW
  Washington, DC, 20007-1998
  (202) 298-4000
  The embassy can be e-mailed from its website:

  To express concerns to German authorities:

  President of the Federal Republic of Germany
  11010 Berlin
  Telefon: +49 30 20 00-0
  Fax: +49 030 20 00-19 99
  E-Mail: [email protected]

  Angela Merkel
  Willy-Brandt-Straße 1
  10557 Berlin
  Telefon: +49 180 272-0000
  Fax: +49 1888 272-2555
  E-Mail: [email protected]

  Politician Joachim Herrmann
  Chief of the CSU Party, also knows the Busekros family personally
  Joachim Herrmann
  Ludwig-Erhard-Straße 9 a
  91052 Erlangen
  Telefon: +49 9131- 53 45 38
  Telefax: +49 9131- 61 18 40
  E-Mail: [email protected]

  View UN Report on the Munoz Mission to Germany referencing home schooling:
  See related coverage:

  Youth Welfare Officer Lies to German Television about Homeschooler Taken Away from Family

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

  German Homeschooler Parents Ordered to Undergo Psychiatric Evaluation

  Melissa – HomeSchooled Teen in Germany Begs for Help to Go Home to Family

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

  The Saga Continues: Previously Tolerant German State Declares War on Home-schooling

  Germany Uses Nazi Era Law to Imprison Mom for Homeschooling; Family Flees to Austria