Our family lived in Germany for 18 years, and we were sad to leave. My children consider Germany home, in part because a goodly portion of our forebears have names such as Ackermann, Zimmermann, Wirth and Ostertag. Reading reports such as the one that follows, from a place that was enjoyable for us is like finding out that your wonderful father has been fondling Kindergarteners on the playground.
In Germany, homeschooling was illegal since before I started with my kids in 1990, and I heard that parents were even then fined or had their children taken to foster care. I think, though, that with the growth of homeschooling as a movement, the authorities are more aware of the independence felt by homeschooling parents. The reactions of the authorities now appears to have changed from some people willing to turn a blind eye concerning ‘eccentrics,’ to ’shoot one and the rest get the message.’
„Eltern unbelehrbar“ — Kinder aus religiösen Gründen selbst unterrichtet (Parents unteachable — Children educated by parents for religious reasons), 19 June 2008, Frankfurter Allgemeine, Frankfurt, Germany [translation provided by Rina G.]
Weil es seine Kinder aus religiösen Gründen nicht zur Schule schickt, muss ein Ehepaar aus Nordosthessen drei Monate hinter Gitter. Das Kasseler Landgericht verurteilte die sogenannten „Schulverweigerer von Herleshausen“ am Mittwoch zu der Haftstrafe ohne Bewährung. Beide würden „dauernd und hartnäckig“ ihre Kinder von der Schule fernhalten, deshalb sei die Haftstrafe unumgänglich
Because they refused, for religious reasons, to send their children to school, a couple from North-East Hessen must each spend three months behind bars. The Kassel Regional Court sentenced the so-called “school refusers of Herleshausen” to imprisonment without the option of parole. Both the mother and father were, according to the court, “persistently and obstinately” keeping their children from attending school, which made their imprisonment unavoidable.
Das Gericht war mit seiner Strafe dem Antrag der Anklage gefolgt. Der Staatsanwalt hatte Haft ohne Bewährung gefordert, weil die Eltern unbelehrbar seien. Sie seien wie ein Lastwagenfahrer, der vor Gericht beteuere, auch in Zukunft immer wieder mit Alkohol hinter dem Steuer zu sitzen. Der Vater wies das als menschenverachtend zurück, beharrte aber auf seiner Position. Entsprechend verurteilte der Richter die „dauernden und hartnäckigen“ Schulverweigerer.
The court, in passing this sentence, complied with the prosecution’s motion. The prosecutor had called for imprisonment without the option of parole because the parents were unteachable. They were like a truck driver who states in court that he will continue to drive under the influence of alcohol. The father rejected this statement as inhuman but continued to stick to his position. Accordingly, the judge convicted the “persistent and stubborn” school refusers.
This, from the land of Luther. “Hier stehe ich. Ich kann nicht anders. Gott helfe mir. Amen.” (“Here I stand. I can do no other. God help me. Amen.”). You’d think that staunch Germans who feel that all children should be steeped in ‘German-ness’ would respect a stance such as that.
Luther Memorial, Worms, Germany
Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons