Strange country at times is Germany

Armed police in Germany launched a terrifying raid on a family’s home to seize their four children after they defied the country’s ban on home schooling.

A team of 20 social workers, police officers, and special agents stormed the home of Dirk and Petra Wunderlich because they refused to send their children to state schools.

The youngsters were taken to unknown locations after officials allegedly ominously promised the parents that they would not be seeing them again ‘any time soon’.

Strange, strange, place.

26 thoughts on “Strange country at times is Germany”

  1. S’pose it might be worth pointing out; the shock headline would be “raid by unarmed police”. Police in Germany, like much of Europe, being armed.

  2. bloke in spain: It’s the Daily Mail, I’m surprised they didn’t go with “stormtroopers” in the headline.

  3. Sorry. Didn’t realise it was the Mail. Mail’d take offense the whole affair was conducted in some for’n lingo & not English.
    What I can’t understand is the second photo (file) is what is obviously a Brit school dinner lady, ladling out mash. On the other hand, if it’s anything like the mash we had at school, this is definitely a child abuse story.

  4. Pingback: Get used to it: two more minor acts of oppression in developed countries « Samizdata

  5. Matthew L,

    It’s the Daily Mail. I’m surprised too. Surprised that the story itself, and the comments from Mail readers, are less tabloidish and more concerned with principles over trivia than the comments here.

  6. I didn’t say I wasn’t concerned. But I’d like to see a credible source for it, because for all we know it was an entirely justified action and the “armed police” were just wearing their normal service automatics.

  7. ” Surprised that the story itself, and the comments from Mail readers, ”
    Ah. There we have it. “comments from Mail readers”
    Bit of luck it happened in Germany, isn’t it? Happened in the UK & the court would have imposed reporting restrictions & no paper would dare to run a comments section.
    And, of course, raids exactly like this do happen in the UK with monotonous regularity. It’d be exactly what would happen in the UK, if parents tried to stand against what the social workers had decreed. Armed police as well, if thought necessary. Except we’d never hear about it because the Mail (& all the other papers) would be too gutless to report it.

  8. Matthew L: In Germany, it is illegal to homeschool your children. All children must be sent to an approved official school. The crime of this family was to refuse to comply with this law.

    This resembled a stormtrooper raid, as the police thought that the children (aged 7 to 14) might resist being stolen from their apparently competent parents (you think?), so they came in in large numbers in order to be able to grab all the children.

    I have seen no evidence that they were armed beyond their normal service weapons, and no evidence that any of those weapons left their holsters.

  9. And yes, if UK social workers were removing a set of children form their parents, I’d expect them to come with a similar number of people, for the same reason. The sin for me is not the number of people involved in this action, it’s the law that provoked it. “Send your children to our school or we’ll kidnap them and you won’t see them for a long time, if ever” is pretty high up on the evil list.

  10. Is this “news”?

    Arresting people for not sending their children to school in the middle of the summer holidays. Does not compute.

  11. It happened a year ago, and it was a repeat of what happened to the family in 2009, when living in France. Dirk and Petra Wunderlich has a long history of defying the state ban on home schooling, and there seem to be some other aspects of their family life that troubles the authorities. To me there might be legitimate reasons to remove the children of devout sectarians who refuse them all contact with alternative ideas.

    I had a visit on the door recently by a boy I took to be around four years old, in a suit, and holding a bible telling me to come into the fold of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, his parents waiting in the background. I told them they were abusing children, and I meant it, and it wouldn’t bother me at all if the police told them as well.

    Here’s an interview with Dirk Wunderlich – a certified nut if you ask me:

    The story in German:

    And dramatised far as possible in English a year later: (probably where the Mail got it.)

  12. Jahn, in that interview, Wunderlich expresses himself as a religionist of some sort (presumably Christian). I assume this iswhat yyou’re referring to when you call him a nut. I share no such beliefs with him, and I tend to think they are (more or less by definition) irrational. Yet until a generation or two ago, such modes of expression would have been commonplace. He may be an antiquated irrationalist, but that doesn’t make him nuts.

  13. It doesn’t make him a child abuser either, unless you’re one of those strange breed of atheists who believe so strongly and fervently in atheism you’ve lost all reason.

  14. JuliaM
    We might dislike the indoctrination we see in state schools, but for this to be rational we must want to see it replaced with a wider selection of ideas offered for the children’s consideration. And if we praise freedom we must discard the idea that our children are our property. So, as I see it, there might be home-schooling that is a better alternative than state schools, and there might be home schooling that is definitely not.

    It might be that the Wunderlich children are actually better off with their parents, I can’t tell with any certainty. They might possibly have had a great deal of contact with all sorts of children, and even all sorts of books, but possibly they might not – and reading the interview I doubt they have.

    Dirk Wunderlich: Our grandparents were aware of this connection. They simply stated: “Bad company spoils good morals.” I even experienced this in my youth. There were several parents who prohibited their children’s contact with me because they saw “bad company” in me and rightfully so. Nowadays, such conventional wisdom is disregarded or is not even known. The cause is that sociologists, psychologists, and others are people who do not comprehend and make sense of the true significance of human beings and the family because of their ideological “scientific” perspective. Therefore, they recommend socialization as the answer, thereby preventing real success.

    I have read several complaints by children of sectarians who claim the state (which is us) betrayed them by not intervening in what were traumatic indoctrination, and a denied childhood.

    The word “abuse” I found appropriate for a small child doing missionary work with obediently repeated words when he should have been playing children’s games with other children. And no, I don’t find all religious people to be “nuts,” and on consideration I might have replaced the “certified nut” with “a man with scary ideas” or something the like. Perhaps I subconsciously referred to Islamic fundamentalists in my country that I would like to deny home-schooling for their children…

  15. Dirk Wunderlich: Our grandparents were aware of this connection. They simply stated: “Bad company spoils good morals.”

    Isolation is a very common technique of abusers.

  16. It’s not as if there aren’t plenty of countries you can move to where homeschooling is legal should you not like the law in Germany. Like Austria.

  17. They can, of course, move freely within the EU. But that avenue is, of course, being able to economically support themselves wherever they fetch up.

    As for the ‘abuse’ angle: I thought we were meant to be libertarians round here. Teaching children things that differ from secular orthodoxy, even very silly things like religion, does not rise to the level of child abuse, otherwise we’d be fully justified in kicking down the doors of the various Islamic ‘faith schools’ that proliferate anywhere the concentration of Mohammedans rises above a certain level. Hell, if teaching children stupid and wrong things merited this sort of tactic, taking children out of State education by force would be the thing to do. The problem is Germany has always had a much bigger dose of “that which is not forbidden is compulsory” than Anglo-Saxon societies. The whole modern education system derives from the Prussian tradition, after all.

  18. David Gillies:
    Being libertarian one should not care that much about who is holding the whip, and be willing to observe that some parents are quite dictatorial. In September 2006, the European Court of Human Rights upheld the German ban on homeschooling, and took the position that the plaintiffs were the children, not their parents, and declared “children are unable to foresee the consequences of their parents’ decision for home education because of their young age…” An idea that sounds not unreasonable to me.

    I suspect we here make our subjective choice of who most to fear largely through identifying either with the parents or the children.

  19. @Jahn, 11.55 – although the European Court of Human Rights is correct that it is acceptable to insist on state education of children, what is probably a major breach of human rights is the response of the German state when a family chooses civil disobedience.

    Is it really acceptable to invade the home and place the children into care? Is there really no more proportionate response? For example, imposing a fine which would make it prohibitively expensive to tutor your children at home.

    Sending in the child catchers is normally frowned upon unless there is child abuse going on, at least in civilised countries. And as Germany is a signatory to the European Convention on Human Rights, we must assume that it is a civilised country. I would anticipate the Child Catcher element of this to be vigourously challenged.

  20. Sandman
    It seems the children were taken from Dirk and Petra Wunderlich in 2009 (in France), then in 2012 and finally in 2013, which means the have gotten their children back at least twice, and that the children’s final removal must be at the end of a long process. So I think there must be a story there that needs to be known before judgement is passed. From what little has been published of the authorities deliberations they obviously are afraid of the children’s isolation.

    Such police actions are bound to be messy, but I must say that I would desperately prefer to be arrested by the German police if the alternative was the American ones for example. One can see the dutifulness of the Germans as dangerous when the authorities are dangerous, but in general the fact that nearly everyone sticks rigidly to the rules is a guarantee for you safety.

    A state education might be immoral in the eyes of some parents – I see early sex education is one of the main complaints among the Wunderlichs’ German supporters – and it might be pedagogically inferior to what some parents can muster – but it has the great advantage over homeschooling that insight to what goes on is continually available to society at large. And there is nowhere in Western society where the parents cannot try to provide some countervailing force to the “un-Christian” education in state schools.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *