European Court of Human Rights to Hear Case of German Family Forced to Send Children to Public School

STRASBOURG, France — The European Court of Human Rights is set to hear the case of a German family that was forced to send their children to public school after they were seized by the government because they were homeschooled.

“I sincerely hope the European Court of Human Rights will reaffirm that the state has no right to abduct children from their family just because they are being homeschooled,” father Dirk Wunderlich said in a statement this week.

“Our youngest daughter was only four years old when the authorities broke into our home and took the children without warning. She could not stop crying for 11 days. Her older sister has not laughed since this incident,” he explained. “We chose to educate our children at home, because we believe this to be the best environment for them to learn and thrive.”

As previously reported, in 2013, approximately 20 social workers, police officers and special agents swarmed the Wunderlich home and forcefully removed all their children. A family court judge 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,” Wunderlich recalled. “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.”

A month later, following a court hearing about the matter, the Wunderlich children were returned to their parents after it was agreed to send them to a state school. However, they were still considered to be in the custody of the government as Judge Marcus Malkmus characterized homeschooling as a “straightjacket” for children.

“The children 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,” Malkmus wrote. “[Homeschooling presents] concrete endangerment to the wellbeing of the child.”

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An appeals court later overturned the ruling, opining that it was improper for the judge to withhold legal custody from the parents.

But as Germany continues to consider homeschooling a criminal act, and as the Wunderlich family remains uncertain about its legal situation, it took its case to the European Court of Human Rights. Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) International is representing the family and submitted its written argument for consideration on Thursday.

“Petra and Dirk Wunderlich simply exercised their parental right to raise their children in line with their philosophical and religious convictions—something they believe they can do better in the home environment,” Robert Clarke with ADF’s Vienna, Austria office said in a statement.

“The right of parents to direct the upbringing of their children is a fundamental right protected in all of the major human rights treaties. Germany has signed on to these treaties and yet continues to ignore its obligations with devastating consequences,” he lamented.

The Wunderlich’s had considered moving to France where homeschooling is legal, but decided to stay and fight for their rights.

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  • bowie1

    I guess Germany still hasn’t gotten away from that Nazi mentality of forcing people to go against their freedoms to choose.

  • Guest✓ᵛᵉʳᶦᶠᶦᵉᵈ

    Islam is taking over Germany, yet Germany’s going after homeschoolers. SMH

    • Robert

      its just as bad in the usa to. crazy stuff.

  • Grace Kim Kwon

    Germany is practically so remote from anything Christian, and the nation should not be in charge of the German children anymore, although its recent decision to raise the marriage-age to 18 is excellent. Germany should use American Christian homeschooling materials for its national curriculum instead of the meaningless godless ideology. What is the use of having everything on earth if one has no eternal life or godly children? Foreigners will take up the land.

  • Oleg Shishko

    Wow, how disgusting… That judge is a “concrete endangerment to the wellbeing of the child.”

  • Copyleft

    Nice to see devout Christians defending their right to keep their kids ignorant….

  • Taking children away from parents for brainwashing by the state is a 20th and 21st century phenomenon, isn’t it? Before this, we had capturing the children (and wives) of your defeated and murdered enemy as the booty of war. Since we’re returning to primitive morality, it is unjust that the state does not try to murder the parents first. Maybe they would try harder if they were consistently answered with deadly force. I’m sure they would prefer to do their evil deeds over my dead body.

  • While I do not agree with the government’s handling of the situation, children are by law required to attend public schools in Germany. There should have been a far more unintrusive way to accomplish their goal.

    Having said that, I think homeschooling should be legal, but subject to a standard achievement test before a homeschooled young man is allowed to receive a high school diploma and/or enter college. Among such minimum requirements is that the student should show competence in knowledge of the scientific method and a clear understanding of biological evolution, as well as other cultures and religions.

    I do know that most public high schools students are not as knowledgeable as they should be in these fields. Were it up to me, before any student could receive a high school diploma, they should have had some training in (other than the usual three Rs), ethics, world religions and science. We need a well educated public.