In Darmstadt, Germany, police officers armed with guns and a battering ram stormed a home and seized four children because the family living there had defied a national ban on homeschooling. The officers were accompanied by a throng of social workers and special agents.
The terrifying team of about 20 government officials forcibly removed all four of the family’s children at around breakfast time on Thursday morning, according to a press release from the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA).
The sole reason for the brutal abduction of the children is that the parents, Dirk and Petra Wunderlich, have defied the German government’s ban on home education. There are no claims of mistreatment or neglect.
The children range in age from seven to 14.
German law requires that every child attend a government-authorized school until they reach a certain age.
“I looked through a window and saw many people police, and special agents, all armed,” Dirk Wunderlich said. “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.”
Wunderlich called the incident “chaotic” and said police treated him like 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,” the father of four said.
The homeschooling saga of the Wunderlichs has dragged on for four years. The family moved around the European Union in an effort to find a place where they can legally homeschool their children. They did find success, but Mr. Wunderlich couldn’t support find a job to support his family, claims the HSLDA. And so the family returned to Germany in 2012.
In October 2012, the local “Youth Welfare Office” in Darmstadt, 25 miles from Frankfurt in southwestern Germany, actually obtained legal custody of the children. A lengthy appeals process followed.
In the meantime, German government officials seized the children’s passports, making an escape to another country somewhere between difficult and impossible.
HSLDA chairman Michael Farris argued that the confiscation of the passports violates human rights guaranteed by the European Convention of Human Rights.
“Germany is a party to numerous human rights treaties that recognize the right of parents to provide an education distinct from the public schools so that children may be educated according to the parents’ religious convictions,” Farris said. “Germany has simply not met its obligations under these treaties or as a liberal democracy.”
An Aug. 28 order signed by a German family court judge authorized the raid on the Wunderlich home. The judge’s order allowed the use of force “against the children,” notes the HSLDA, because they may have “adopted the parents’ opinions” concerning homeschooling. Thus, reasoned the judge, “no cooperation could be expected” from any family member.
After the seizure of their four children, Dirk and Petra Wunderlich met with government officials. The family’s attorney, Andreas Vogt, was also present.
At the meeting, the parents sought a hearing to challenge the abduction of their kids. Government officials responded by saying they would have to wait until the judge who handles such requests returns from a vacation.
The Daily Mail tried to reach out to German officials but none were available for comment.