(Photo: Home School Legal Defense Association)
Police officers in Germany raided the home Thursday of Dirk and Petra Wunderlich and forcibly took their four children, ages 7 to 14, because they homeschool.
"I looked through a window and saw many people, police, and special agents, all armed. 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," Dirk Wunderlich told the Home School Legal Defense Association, which has been working to help the Wunderlichs.
"The police shoved me into a chair and wouldn't let me even make a phone call at first," he said. "It was chaotic as they told me they had an order to take the children. At my slightest movement the agents would grab me, as if I were 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. Our neighbors and children have been traumatized by this invasion."
The Wunderlichs live in a small town about 25 miles south of Frankfurt.
In the court order authorizing the use of force to take the Wunderlich's children away from them, there are no allegations of abuse nor neglect, only that the Wunderlichs homeschool, which is against the law in Germany.
Dirk Wunderlich claimed that he and his wife were not given the opportunity to speak to their children before they were taken away, and they were not told where their children are being kept.
"When I went outside, our neighbor was crying as she watched," he recalled. "I turned around to see my daughter being escorted as if she were a criminal by two big policemen. They weren't being nice at all. When my wife tried to give my daughter a kiss and a hug goodbye, one of the special agents roughly elbowed her out of the way and said – 'It's too late for that.' What kind of government acts like this?"
After their children were taken from them, officials told the Wunderlichs that they would not be able to see them "anytime soon."
The Wunderlichs had moved out of Germany and tried living in other European countries to protect their right to homeschool, but had to return to Germany last year to find work.
Germany is a signatory to a number of human rights treaties that were violated by the seizure of the Wunderlich kids, HSLDA Chairman Michael Farris argued.
"The United States Constitution is not alone in upholding the right of parents to decide how to educate their children. Germany is a party to numerous human rights treaties that recognize the right of parents to provide an education distinct from the public schools that so that children may be educated according to the parents' religious convictions. Germany has simply not met its obligations under these treaties or as a liberal democracy," he said.
The U.S. Justice Department is currently trying to deport back to Germany the Romeikes, a homeschooling family that came to the United States to prevent the seizure of their children. HSLDA has appealed that case to the U.S. Supreme Court.
What happened to the Wunderlichs demonstrates the importance of the Romeike case, Farris argued.
"HSLDA and I will do whatever we can to help this family regain custody of their children and ensure that they are safe from this persecution. ... Families in Germany need a safe place where they can educate their children in peace," he said.