Thanks to efforts by School Instruction at Home, Mr. and Mrs. Bauer were acquitted on April 28, 2003. The presiding judge recognized the fact that the Bauers were educating their children in a worthy manner, also stating that their dedication should set an example for many German parents. However, the state appealed the ruling and the Bauers were brought to a second trial in November, where the ruling was not as favorable. The court overturned the previous acquittal by the Administrative Court in Alsfield, sentencing the Bauers to pay a fine of 400 euro, the equivalent of $483 US Dollars (USD), with an additional fine of 800 euro (worth $966 USD) if the family violates the mandatory school attendance law in the next two years.

"Public school is unavoidable," said Attorney General Volker Uhl.

"[But] . . . by sending their children to school, they disobey God's word," declared attorney Eckermann. School Instruction at Home is appealing the case to the Upper State Court in Frankfurt.

German Homeschoolers Ask for Help
According to Richard Guenther, the situation in Germany is desperate. "We . . . know of [several families] who are in hiding," Guenther said. "It is becoming clear how the Jews must have felt under Hitler." Two German families Guenther knows have been separated for more than a year. The fathers live in one state of Germany while the mothers and children hide out in another. They see each other only on weekends. Another family relocated to Austria, where they now live on a bare minimum income. Even the Guenthers were contacted by a social worker and are being questioned by school authorities.

"Many homeschoolers in the United States have forgotten the terror of being taken to jail for exercising their God-given responsibility to homeschool," said Chris Klicka, a senior lawyer with HSLDA. "We have been able to legalize homeschooling in all fifty states . . . [demonstrating] over time that homeschoolers perform above average in standardized tests and college entrance examinations . . . but our freedom to homeschool was not free."

Working with HSLDA, School Instruction at Home plans to support German homeschoolers and assist those facing court summons. Their three-year goals include establishing a network of attorneys to take on homeschool cases across Germany, building support groups in each of Germany's 16 states, and conducting monthly conventions to promote homeschooling.

"We have accomplished much and have yet a great task ahead of us," said Richard Guenther. "Our lives are committed to this cause." He requests that donations be sent to HSLDA's Homeschool Foundation, which will in turn be sent to School Instruction at Home.

"German homeschoolers are facing this battle right now," said Chris Klicka. "It is vital that we in America, who have been given so much, rally around these families and lift up the homeschooling movement in Germany."

What You Can Do

  • Pray ~ for German homeschoolers facing political oppression – such as the Bauers and the Guenthers – along with attorneys like Gabriele Eckermann and the rest of the staff at School Instruction at Home.
  • Give ~ to School Instruction at Home via HSLDA's Homeschool Foundation (www.homeschoolfoundation.org) or visit www.hslda.org for more information.
  • Write ~ letters of encouragement to German homeschoolers, care of HSLDA. Tell them American homeschoolers are behind them and praying for their freedom!

Published with permission. The Old Schoolhouse™ Magazine. www.TheHomeschoolMagazine.com.
Claire Novak is a freelance writer and journalist. Her articles have appeared in a variety of publications, including The Girlhood Home Companion, The Pebbly Brook Farm Journal, and The Camp Chase Gazette. She also performs living history interpretations, teaches piano, and works at Cowboy Dreams, a Therapeutic Riding Center for children with Special Needs. Claire plays an active role in her family's ministry, The Gift of Family Writing. Visit their website at www.giftoffamilywriting.com.