DARMSTADT, Germany – Four homeschooled children who were seized by German officials earlier this year are now attending government schools after their parents agreed to the condition in order to have them returned home.
As previously reported, approximately 20 social workers, police officers and special agents swarmed the home of Dirk and Petra Wunderlich in August and forcefully removed all their children. A family court judge in Darmstadt had signed an order that day authorizing officials to immediately seize the Wunderlich’s children for failing to cooperate “with the authorities to send the children to [public] school.”
“I looked through a window and saw many people, police, and special agents, all armed,” Dirk outlined. “They told me they wanted to come in to speak with me. I tried to ask questions, but within seconds, three police officers brought a battering ram and were about to break the door in, so I opened it.”
“The police shoved me into a chair and wouldn’t let me even make a phone call at first,” he continued. “It was chaotic as they told me they had an order to take the children. At my slightest movement the agents would grab me, as if I were a terrorist. You would never expect anything like this to happen in our calm, peaceful village. It was like a scene out of a science fiction movie. Our neighbors and children have been traumatized by this invasion.”
The two younger Wunderlich children attending government school.
In September, following a court hearing about the matter, the Wunderlich children were returned to their parents after Dirk and Petra agreed to send them to a state school. Their first day of classes was October 28th.
“What other choice did we have?” Dirk stated to the Virginia-based Homeschool Legal Defense Association (HSLDA). “They had our children. We feel ravaged by the government. We don’t want our children in school but we have no choice—we can’t leave and if we don’t comply they will take our children away. We will make the best of it because we know if we tried to leave, the authorities would separate us and we might never see our children again or for a very long time.”
He said that he asked his lawyers to obtain confirmation from social workers that if the family emigrated to a country where homeschooling is legal, they would not interfere. However, the judge overseeing the case told the family that if they left the country before the next hearing in December, he would ensure that they faced criminal sanctions.
“In the weeks before, it was terrible to think of my children going to school. I’m trying to have a more practical view,” Dirk stated. “We will have a court date in December and hope we can get the full custody back and perhaps be able to go where homeschooling is tolerated. Our lawyers have made emergency requests and we hope perhaps an answer will come sooner. We don’t think we could do this for years, but for a few or more weeks we can. Anyway, we don’t really have any choice.”