Another German homeschooling family has been subjected to their
government's Gestapo-like efforts to make sure every child in the
country is educated in its schools under the influence of its
Adolf Hitler understood the necessity of keeping children under
the influence of state-run schools in order to control the nation
and keep it under one mindset.
It's been more than 80 years since he uttered: "Let me control
the textbooks and I will control the state." Today, German school
authorities continue to embrace the thinking behind those
The state's tireless quest to make sure every child in Germany
is being educated in its schools under the influence of its
textbooks is reported to be priority number one. And the
seriousness of this mission is attested by its persistent pursuit
of the latest homeschool family under their gun.
What many would consider the
modern-day Gestapo recently showed up at the front doorstep of Dirk
and Petra Wunderlich's home.
"As American families enjoyed their Thanksgiving holiday, the
Wunderlich family received a visit from two social workers who
planned to take the children to school to test them for grade level
placement," said Michael P. Farris, Esq., founder and chairman of
School Legal Defense Fund and chancellor of Patrick Henry
College. "When the social workers asked the children to 'come
along,' the children refused."
Defying the directives of German officials, however, is not
something that is ignored or tolerated.
Frau Christa Lettau, one of the school attendance officers who
showed up at the family's home, barked back at the children and
mocked them, accusing them of just parroting their parents'
"orders," Mr. Wunderlich stated.
"Yeah, yeah, you do not want to go to school because your
parents do not want you to," Lettau retorted to the children,
Lettau didn't leave, however, before having a last word with the
"Do you know what type of consequences this has?" the official
reportedly threatened Dirk and Petra Wunderlich as she left their
home. "We will then meet at a later date in Darmstadt again, and we
will take away your complete custody."
When Petra then asked Lettau, "All for the welfare of the
children?" the official responded, "Yes."
Before Lettau left, Mrs. Wunderlich called her attorney, Andreas
Vogt, who then had a word with the school official. Upset by the
conversation, Lattau departed with her fellow official, curtly
assuring both parents that they would see them "in court."
Not so fast!
But this was not the Wunderlich's first run-in with
Straight out of The Sound of Music, the Wunderlichs
resembled the von Trapp family fleeing to a neighboring county to
avoid detection from German authorities - for homeschooling.
Instead of Austria, however, the Wunderlichs sought freedom in
France, followed by Norway and Hungary ─ but not for long.
"Sadly, as is the case for too many German families, the
Wunderlichs' homeschooling saga began with exile," Farris shared.
"Knowing that homeschooling was not tolerated in Germany, the
family left for France to escape threatened truancy charges."
But the arm of the German government was longer than
"A traumatic experience followed when their four children were
taken from them for four days, following a report from German
social workers to French social workers," recounted Farris.
Even though they escaped the state's grasp that time, the
Wunderlichs found it hard to sustain themselves outside their
"A French judge returned the children, reportedly telling the
family it was their right to homeschool," Farris continued.
"However, Mr. Wunderlich, a gardener, was unable to find sufficient
employment in France. Stints in Norway and Hungary followed, where
employment also proved scarce."
Their evasion from Germany ended just over a month ago.
"In October of this year, Dirk and Petra Wunderlich lost legal
custody of their children for homeschooling," reported Farris, who
met the entire family that month in Berlin. "The family was forced
to return to Germany after Mr. Wunderlich was unable to locate work
elsewhere in Europe."
German school authorities were quick to renew their attempt to
capture the Wunderlichs' children and place them under control of
"The family eventually returned to their home in Hessen,
Germany, and tried to homeschool quietly until they came to the
attention of school attendance officials," recounted Farris. "They
were reported to authorities by a neighbor who saw that they did
not send their children to school. The family faces both criminal
and civil charges for homeschooling."
A call for justice
Despite the state's relentless pursuit to enforce authoritative
policies that seize control of every German child within and beyond
its borders, HSLDA maintains that such a vice grip is not legal ─
even by international standards.
"In this case, the German state has viciously attacked the most
precious interest the Wunderlich family has - their children,"
asserts HSLDA's director for international relations Michael P.
Donnelly, Esq. "By refusing to make it possible for parents to
homeschool their children, German governments at the state and
federal level are simply derelict."
Donnelly sees the Wunderlich case as a classic example of all
that's gone wrong in Germany regarding its out-of-control
"They are terrorizing this family by continuing to threaten them
with actually physically putting their children in orphanages, even
though there is no question that the children are well cared for
and educated," Donnelly argues.
According to Donnelly, the German government's attempt to seize
total control of the nation's children is a dangerous power grab
that needs to be stopped at all costs before an authoritarian state
is established, beginning with the schools.
"This is a brutal act of a rogue totalitarian state," the
concerned attorney warned. "Germany may have hallmarks of a free
society, but in the area of educational freedom, I don't know how
lawmakers, bureaucrats and judges can escape this terrific
injustice - something needs to change in Germany soon."
Farris concurs with his fellow counsel, noting that the German
government is denying the Wunderlichs their fundamental human right
to freely educate their children as they see fit.
"I met the Wunderlich family when I spoke at the Global Home
Education Conference in Berlin where only one federal German
policymaker even bothered to show up," Farris stated in regards to
the October event, where the Berlin Declaration [PDF], pronouncing
homeschooling rights, was signed. "This precious family is only
trying to do what is best for their children - what they simply
have a fundamental human right to do - something Germany must
The call to action
In order to bring about educational reform in Germany, Farris
calls on homeschoolers and home-education advocates to stand behind
the Wunderlichs by emailing officials at the school and welfare offices. As part of
the exhortation, Farris encourages submitters to include:
In addition to emails, Farris welcomes prayers for the family
and contributions to the Homeschool Freedom Fund.
Analysts say better retention policies are needed to stop the
trend that's kicking nearly 50 percent of educators who begin
teaching careers out of the profession within five years.