Charlie Francis-Pape and Allan Hall
February 24, 2008
Families are fleeing to the UK from Germany to escape a law introduced by Hitler that could lead to their children being taken into care if educated at home. One father, who arrived in Britain with his wife and five children last month, has told The Observer that his family had no choice after being warned that their children would be taken into foster care unless they enrolled them at local schools. Another, who fled in October, said he believed the 70-year-old law was creating hundreds of refugees and forcing families into hiding to protect their children.
Home-schooling has been illegal in Germany since it was outlawed in 1938. Hitler wanted the Nazi state to have complete control of young minds. Today there are rare exemptions, such as for children suffering serious illnesses or psychological problems. Legal attempts through the courts – including the European Court of Human Rights – have so far failed to overturn the ban.
Klaus Landahl, 41, who moved in January from the Black Forest in Germany to the Isle of Wight with his wife, Kathrin, 39, said they had no option but to leave their home, friends and belongings in order to educate their five children, aged between three and 12, legally and without fear. ‘It feels like persecution,’ he said. ‘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.’