|Rose - photo by A. Stahl|
Today I would like to look at the plight of another family that has been in American and British news a few times, and fallen off the English-speaking news radar. Who are the Landahls, what happened in the German courts, and where are they now?
A few short months before I had come to live in Germany, I had heard about this family via WorldNetDaily. I do not usually get my news from there. I'll attempt to balance what was said in their articles with what is still available in the news.
The objective in sharing these stories is so that others, especially my acquaintances that keep asking about home-schooling in Germany get to see the story from every available angle possible, while limited by various circumstances. I do recommend using Google Translate, as I am limited to how much I can quote from any news article available on the internet.
This story seems a bit difficult to piece together as most news stories are no longer available. However, the picture seems much the same as usual once you get a good overview of everything.
The oldest story I can find, is from January 2008. After fighting the system, the family decided to move to the United Kingdom. That is when things went south quickly.
A homeschooling family is trying to arrange an escape from Germany before authorities can complete a court action that would give the state custody of their five children, according to a pro-family advocacy organization.
POLICE STATE, GERMANY: Parents race to escape before court takes kids
A new low... in the case of the Landahl family... After this family has successfully practiced homeschooling for their four children; and thus far have been no reason for complaint (aside from the usual fines); ...mayor Jürgen Grossmann has now resorted to drastic measures. [This was at the end of 2007]
In the court document... it is said that the grounds for removing the children (found in section II, page 6) that "apart from the forcible removal of the children from the home..." was because it was feared any other measures "could otherwise harm the children psychologically."
"...the transfer to a group home will do more damage to the children's souls than having an entire, previously intact family..."
It may be that the zeal to enforce compulsory schooling... is ...more important than the children's welfare or common sense.
However, officials said the court has not issued a final ruling in the case brought by the mayor of Altensteig, a city with a sister-city promotional relationship with Butte, Mont.
POLICE STATE, GERMANY: Homeschool family reaches England
...The family belongs to the community of evangelical charismatic influenced youth, mission and social work Altensteig (JMS). The parents refuse to send their children to school for religious and educational reasons...
On 16 November 2007 the Federal Constitutional Court in Karlsruhe adopted a resolution that parents who keep their children out of school for religious reasons, may lose custody of said children. ...to counter the emergence of religious or ideological "parallel societies"...
Flucht nach England [Fleeing to England]
“The [German] court determined that the parents’ refusal to send their children to either a state or ... approved private school is a misuse of parental custody rights, which violates the well-being of the child,”
... “and which requires actions by the family court. …”
...the letter, [is] signed by N. Hauf., director of school affairs, said.
POLICE STATE, GERMANY: Open season on homeschoolers
In an interview with our newspaper, the mayor defends against "insults and outrageous allegations." The Landahl family had not been expelled, but went voluntarily.
Grossman: "If we give here, we could be facing people of Islamic faith asking for the same right to freedom of education by homeschooling them." Moreover, the parents were welcome to choose to send their children to a state-approved, Christian private school of their choice - for example in Calw...
Article no longer available found here
"We wanted to give our children the opportunity to discover their talents themselves..." says ...Klaus Landahl...
However, the authorities take do not allow homeschooling. "We have repeatedly sought dialogue," says Mayor John Grossmann. There are now several administrative penalties, and the city is asking the youth mission and social work (JMS) to mediate.
Article no longer available, found here
Klaus Landahl, ...with his wife, Kathrin, ...said they had no option but to leave their home, friends and belongings in order to educate their five children... legally and without fear. 'It feels like persecution,' he said...
The family now live in Shanklin, surviving off savings while Landahl seeks work... His wife said they chose home-schooling to spare their children from bullying and to allow them to focus on their individual interests.
Home-school Germans flee to UK
Even today, the only exceptions to the mandatory public school attendance requirements are rare cases where they are granted for children suffering serious illnesses.
POLICE STATE, GERMANY: Dad describes family's flight from 'persecution'
Anyone who wants to teach a child in Germany without school, must show valid reasons for it. Athletes or students with special mental or physical impairments, submit the appropriate certificates and can be exempted from compulsory education under certain circumstances.
Britische Presse hat Mitleid mit deutschen Eltern
Netzwerk Bildungsfreiheit has an interesting letter submitted after several German home-schooling families were in the news from 2006-08.
"We have the impression that the resistance of the provincial authorities mainly goes back to ignorance of the international situation and unsustainable prejudices about the consequences of legalization. This we would like to change and therefore ask you to give us the opportunity [to discuss this] at the education summit."
This is all I have at the moment on this family. If anyone knows of anything else, I'm more than interested in hearing more of the story.