A law brought in by Adolf Hitler in the 1930s was used to send a German mother to prison for 10 days for refusing to stop educating her child at home (see BCN 97). In Germany, unlike most other European countries, home education is illegal. The family has since fled to Austria, where home education is allowed under certain conditions.
Readers will recall that the Brussels Journal reported that Katherina Plett, a practising Christian who attends a Baptist church, responded to a knock on the door from an undercover Woman Police Constable on Thursday, 7 September. As she opened her door, other Police Officers, hidden outside, stormed into her home and arrested her. German police took Mrs. Platt off to Gelsenkirchen jail, where she served a 10 day prison sentence.
However, on 11 September, Mr Plett gathered their children and fled to Austria, finding asylum at a Christian family centre in Wolfgangsee. Another homeschooling family from Germany has also taken refuge after a Court in Paderborn, north Germany, ordered the seizure of their children.
The German crackdown on homeschooling has affected mostly Christian parents, many of whom resist the increasing state indoctrination of what they say are ‘anti Christian values’.
In January 2005, a mother and father were each sentenced to six days’ imprisonment in Westphalia after refusing to pay the fines for having forbidden their children to attend a Christmas play of the Grimms’ fairytale King Thrushbeard, which they considered blasphemous.
The Director of the Board of Education in Paderbom, Heinz Kohler, claimed: “The parents’ right to personally educate their children would prevent the children from growing up to be responsible individuals within society”. Seven Paderborn homeschoolers have asked for permission to set up a private school. The authorities dismissed this compromise as cover for homeschooling, maintaining: “The living room is not a class room”. Manfred Mueller, governor of Paderborn country, went further by saying publicly that the homeschoolers should be charged with ‘high treason’.
Muller’s main target was Hermann Stücher, a 68 year old man who gave support to these families. Muller said that he should be charged with ‘incitement of the people against the authorities’, the same charge used by Nazis to obliterate resistance to their absolute power. Stücher had publicly called on all Christian parents to withdraw their children from German public schools, which he says are “dominated by neomarxist activists propagating atheistic humanism, hedonism, pluralism and ma¬terialism”.
The events in Paderborn follow from an order issued to the seven families in January 2005 to enrol their children in public schools immediately.
European Court Of Human Rights
Meanwhile, at a hearing on 18 September, the European Court of Human Rights upheld Germany’s right to send parents to prison for educating their children at home, according to the Alliance Defense Fund (ADF). Benjamin Bull, Chief Counsel of ADF said: “German Christian homeschoolers have been criminally prosecuted and jailed for homeschooling as a violation of German law. The decision by the European Court of Human Rights opens the door to continued prosecution and should highlight to Americans the extreme dangers of allowing international law to be authoritative in our own court systems”.
The American Home School Legal Defense Association said on 26 September that ‘at least 40 homeschool families are currently in Court proceedings in Germany, facing fines or time in jail time’, while more have already fled Germany. No mainstream paper in Germany appears to have covered these events.