German officials threaten homeschoolers: ‘We’ll be back’

Wednesday, December 12, 2012
Michael F. Haverluck (

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 textbooks.

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 words.

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.

Wunderlich family (German homeschoolers)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 Home 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, reported Wunderlich.

Lettau didn't leave, however, before having a last word with the parents.

"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 authorities.

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 anticipated.

"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 native land.

"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 state-run education.

"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 educational system.

"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 recognize."

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:

  • A directive to leave the Wunderlich children alone
  • The benefits of homeschooling to society in general
  • A plea to tolerate homeschooling as an educational freedom
  • An assurance that homeschooling does not create parallel societies
  • Personalized accounts of the benefits of homeschooling
  • A reminder that the world is watching this case
  • A show of support for the Wunderlichs

In addition to emails, Farris welcomes prayers for the family and contributions to the Homeschool Freedom Fund.

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