“The youth of today is ever the people of tomorrow. For this reason we have set before ourselves the task of inoculating our youth with the spirit of this community of the people at a very early age, at an age when human beings are still unperverted and therefore unspoiled. This Reich stands, and it is building itself up for the future, upon its youth. And this new Reich will give its youth to no one, but will itself take youth and give to youth its own education and its own upbringing.”
In an attempt to gain control of Germany's hearts and minds, Hitler banned homeschooling in the 1930s. This law has never been repealed, and is still in force, leading to horrific consequences for Christian families in Germany who want to homeschool.
Stories of Germany's Persecuted Homeschoolers
The story of Uwe and Hannelore Romeike and their six children is homeschooling story with a happy ending. In 2008, the Romeike family fled from Germany to seek asylum in the United States after their children were taken away by the police and held for a period...all because they homeschooled for religious reasons. German law requires that every child attend public school (with very few individuals excepted). Families who didn't were (and still are) routinely fined, imprisoned or lose the custody of their children.
For the Romeike’s, asylum was granted by Judge Lawrence Burman in 2010. Burman said America found the German law ‘utterly repellant’ to American beliefs. Indeed, the persecution in Germany had grown so strong over time, there was little way they could continue homeschooling for religious reasons without moving country.
However, the sequel to this story is still in progress and may end sadly. The Obama government is seeking to extradite the family, claiming they are not refugees. They argue their rights haven’t been violated at all. They say this because homeschooling is banned for everyone, not just the Romeike family. Therefore, if they stop homeschooling, they won’t be persecuted. Happily the Homeschooling Legal Defence Association took up their case and are fighting the Obama government zealously.
[UPDATE June 2017] The Romeike family are currently residing in Tennessee and have not been evicted from the United States. You can track the status of the bill by going to https://www.congress.gov/bill/114th-congress/house-bill/1153.
The Romeike’s are evangelical Christians (like most of the 400-800 underground homeschoolers in Germany[i]). They must homeschool underground because the German government has retained the Hitler-enforced law of exclusive public school attendance. Teaching in these institutions has a secular flavour – the main objection evangelical Christians have to the secular laws. But if pro-homeschooling families object, the only alternative is thousands of dollars in fines and loss of custody.
Indeed, one German teen, Melissa, spent time in a psychiatric facility after police discovered she was homeschooled. Consequently, she was put in a foster home, but ran away and returned home.
In another case, a Christian mother and father were ordered to spend three months each in prison because they homeschooled. Of course, they were fined severely before this point.
The Wunderlich family also lost custody of their children when a social worker and twenty officers came to their house (with a battering ram) and removed the children.
Klaus Landahl and his family had no other option but to leave Germany. They left their friends, family and all their belongings so that they could educate their five children legally. Klause said, “It feels like persecution…We had to get to safety to protect our family. We can never go back. If we do, our children will be removed, as the German government says they are the property of the state now.”
Why Homeschoolers are Persecuted in Germany
But why is Germany desperate to prevent homeschooling? Simply, because the government wants control. That is, public schools are a tool that force feeds government approved authoritarian values. It makes sure everyone thinks the same and is on the same political wavelength. It is about “preventing dissent” and preventing “separate philosophical convictions”. This doesn’t sound too dissimilar to Hitler’s philosophy as outlined in his quote at the top of the page.
In fact, Adolf Hitler had banned homeschooling in 1938. One of Hitler’s first moves, when he got into power, was to give the Gestapo control of the schools and school-related issues. He knew that by feeding a government made, government approved, government upheld, government enforced educational system, he could churn out a factory line of 'good' German citizens, who think alike (that is, have Hitler's philosophy and vision). The system churns out good citizens who make more good citizens with the help of its [government-controlled] schools. It's a perpetuating circle. Homeschooling threatens this because the government simply cannot control what is produced in these educational micro-environments.
Germany's anti-homeschooling laws have never been repealed. German’s are still under Hitler’s law. And they’re enforcing this particular one just like the Gestapo did half a century ago. Indeed, the German government has increased its opposition to homeschooling in the last few years. And German courts are now defining homeschooling as abuse (funny how one country defines it as a choice and another defines it as abuse). Unfortunately, attempts by international courts have failed to overturn the ban. It’s incredible to think Germans are still following Hitler’s authoritarian ways.
If you would like to know more about the history of schools, and the agenda behind today's schools, pickup a copy of Why on Earth Homeschool: The Case for Australian Christian Homeschooling.