Condoleezza, what about Germany?

Busekros Family
The annual Human Rights Report was released by the State Department yesterday. I was curious, in light of the case of the German homeschooler, Melissa Busekros, the 15 year old girl who was forcibly removed from her home last month by a SWAT team of German police for the “crime” of being homeschooled, what the report would have to say about the condition of human rights in Germany.
The country report for Germany only contained the following statement with regard to homeschooling: “The legal obligation that children attend a school, confirmed by the Constitutional Court in May and the European Court of Justice in October, and the related bar on homeschooling, was a problem for some groups. Generally, state authorities have permitted such groups to establish charter‑type schools.”

“A problem for some groups” is truly an understatement of the horrific human rights violations occurring in Germany. Because of a 1938 law prohibiting homeschooling, German families who have a need or desire for an alternative education are literally being persecuted. The Busekros case is unfolding in 2007, so I can’t hold the Human Rights Report to task for this oppression, however, 2006 and previous years are rife with examples of egregious violations.

A February, 2006 letter to the U.N. Commission for Human Rights details several violations of German homeschoolers’ civil and human rights, including the following acts enforced against home educating parents by the German state: imprisonment, fines, loss of custody of children, criminal charges, children forced to school by police, and forced admission of children into a psychiatric clinic or foster home. The Busekros case is simply a continuation of a pattern of abuse.

Yes, this is current, I am not pulling stories from 1940s era Germany, as it would seem. The 1938 law enacted by the Hitler regime was an effort to control every aspect of free thought, and we all know the results, unless you’re one of the “Holocaust-never-happened” people.

And how is the modern German state justifying its position that compulsory education can not include home education? A few quotes I came across shed some light. Here’s an excerpt from a letter from the Consul General of the Federal Republic of Germany, in response to inquiries on the Melissa Busekros case: “The public has a legitimate interest in countering the rise of parallel societies that are based on religion or motivated by different world views and in integrating minorities into the population as a whole.” That doesn’t sound a whole lot different than old Germany, and I can think of an entire parallel culture that was nearly wiped out by that philosophy.

Another telling quote, from a 2005 case involving seven homeschool families in Northwest Germany, is even more insidious. Heinz Kohler, the county education director, said that “the parents’ rights to personally educate their children would prevent the children from growing up to be responsible individuals within society…” Clearly, something is going on here, because studies of homeschoolers show higher test scores, greater community involvement, and very well-rounded individuals. What Kohler and the German state meant to say is that the children will grow up to be free-thinking (horrors) responsible individuals within society.

I can understand compulsory education in that the state has a legitimate interest in an educated public, but there are many, many ways to educate, and many individual circumstances that call for an alternative education. For crying out loud, an eight year old disabled boy was forced, against his parents’ wishes, and with the threat of removal of custody, to attend the school the German officials demanded he attend (the Gerber case).

So, there are strange things going on in Germany. Prostitution is legal and widespread, while homeschooling is illegal and families are fleeing the country. And a precious young girl is still held hostage away from her family. Please visit the International Human Rights Group website for a list of high ranking German officials to contact to voice your protest and demand in the name of human rights that Melissa be released back into the custody of her parents.

As for Condoleezza Rice and the State Department, I’d ask that they take a closer look at Germany.

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10 Responses to Condoleezza, what about Germany?

  1. Nom de Plume says:

    You’re analysis of the situation here in Germany (at least in this particular
    case) is quite accurate. The reality here on the ground is even more
    frightening than you may know. As a “free thinking foreigner” I have been the
    victim of systematic and institionalized harassment for fifteen years now.

    Just yesterday I was harassed (once again) by a mafia like organization called
    the GEZ (http://www.gez.de). The supposed purpose of this organization is to
    issue television/radio licenses and “collect fees.” Despite the fact that
    I don’t care to watch or listen to commercial broadcasting– hence I posses
    neither a television nor radio– and that I have responded more than once to
    their letters as well as have had let them in to my home to “control” my
    living environment, they Stijl seem to insist on paying regular “shakedown”
    visits. After informing the GEZ’s “thug” once more that I considered such
    visits a form of harassment and a violation of my privacy, he once again
    insisted it was the “law.” This may seem on the surface to be a minor
    infraction, but as previously mentioned I’ve already experienced 15 years
    of similar treatment from various similar organizations who seem to insist
    that everyone is guilty until proven innocent.

    I must say though the situation in the West (geographical as opposed to the
    former political East and West) of Germany is much better than in Bavaria.
    Even the Germans outside of Bavaria refer to Bavarians as Bazis
    (Short for Bavarian and Nazi). Probably the worst of all are the cities of
    Nuremberg and Fuerth. The city of Fuerth has even gone as far as to
    have given it’s highest honor Ehrenburger (Honored Citizen)
    to Henry Kissinger http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEBB104/index.htm.

    About 6 months ago, the city of Fuerth sent the Cripo to confiscate my
    books. To do so they not only broke into my flat, but the neighbor’s flat
    (also a foreigner) as well. They seem to be under the impression that because
    I don’t earn very much money (mostly because of restrictions which they
    themselves have placed upon me over the years), I must be hiding or laundering
    money. Although they weren’t able to find any evidence to convict me, they
    are still holding on to my books and they have made no indication as to when
    they will be returned. What this means is I have already missed the deadline
    to report the last quarterly tax deadline for 2006 and it’s just a matter of
    days before the Finanzamt (Tax Office) will (once again) start with the next
    round of harassment. So instead of spending my time trying to earn enough
    money to survive, I’ll be spending late hours and weekends answering their
    letters which are written using a form of German which even native speaking
    German’s have difficulty with.

    I would like to tell you the entire history of what I have experienced since I
    have been here but it would take way too long. Besides– for the most serious
    offenses– this isn’t the right forum. I would like to elaborate on one thing
    however. It’s what I call the “Uebermensch syndrome.” Namely a form of arrogance
    which takes form in a German belief that they are superior to
    everyone else. They seem to believe that– with enough logic– they can
    justify “any behavior as appropriate” regardless of how it may make you feel
    as a “person.”

  2. Jen says:

    The “Uebermensch syndrome” – very interesting, and obviously a frightening reality. Thank you for writing.

  3. Jen says:

    I wanted to add that what’s going on in Germany goes far beyond harrassment; I would call it terrorism. I was in contact with a U.S. military family stationed in Germany yesterday, who homeschools their children. I’m assuming that as U.S. military they are exempt from the ban on homeschooling. But, the mother said they keep their children inside all day, so as not to draw attention to the fact that their children are not in school. Then, when German children are out of school, their kids get to go outside. If you are a homeschooling family in Germany, you are living in a state of fear and terror.

  4. Kinderlehrer says:

    Hi Jen,

    I have been impassioned by Melissa’s plight – the latest in several over the last short while. Although I am ‘only 1’ I wanted to try and support home education reform in Germany.

    I felt I could do this with a blog http://www.educatinggermany.7doves.com.

    My aim is to provide a forum for english-speaking people worldwide to
    understand the main arguments so they can effectively lobby those that are in positions to respond, internationally and within Germany, to legalise home education.

    I do hope you visit!

  5. Got here through the Carnival of Homeschooling–and I’ve linked.

  6. Jen says:

    Kinderlehrer, thanks for the info. on your site. I love how you set out the task of those seeking reform in home education: “They need to understand where the social majority are coming from; understand the objections and pitch relevant information in succinct chunks with dignity to break down personal barriers.”

    By the way, the link you posted above didn’t work for me. Here is how I got to your site: http://www.7doves.com

    Jennifer

  7. Kinderlehrer says:

    Hi Jen

    Thanks for your kind words.

    The url I gave above will now work as well.

    I should have said educatinggermany.7doves.com (without the ‘www’) though!

    Kind regards
    Kinderlehrer

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