European Human Rights Court Upholds Nazi Ban on Homeschooling

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) does not protect European citizens against Hitler’s laws. On 11 September the Strasburg-based court ruled that the (German) State may deny parents the right to homeschool their children. The EU Court’s decision [pdf] states that the right to education “by its very nature calls for regulation by the State.”

German parents are currently being prosecuted on the basis of a Nazi bill of 1938 which banned homeschooling. The court denied a request from the Konrad family to rule that Germany’s ban on homeschooling violates their human rights to educate their own children according to their own religious beliefs. Fritz and Marianna Konrad filed the human rights complaint in November 2003 arguing that Germany’s compulsory school attendance severely endangers their children’s religious upbringing, and promotes teaching inconsistent with their Christian faith, especially the State’s mandate of sexual education (what sex education in Europe is can be seen here).

The Konrads had appealed under Article 2 of Protocol No. 1 of the European Convention on Human Rights which states, “No person shall be denied the right to education. In the exercise of any functions which it assumes in relation to education and to teaching, the State shall respect the right of parents to ensure such education and teaching is in conformity with their own religious and philosophical convictions.”

The European Court, however, agreed with the finding of German courts that “Schools represented society, and it was in the children’s interest to become part of that society. The parents’ right to education did not go as far as to deprive their children of that experience.”

The ruling also states that “Not only the acquisition of knowledge, but also the integration into and first experience with society are important goals in primary school education. The German courts found that those objectives cannot be equally met by home education even if it allowed children to acquire the same standard of knowledge as provided for by primary school education. The [European] Court [of Human Rights] considers this presumption as not being erroneous [...] The [German] Federal Constitutional Court stressed the general interest of society to avoid the emergence of parallel societies based on separate philosophical convictions and the importance of integrating minorities into society. The Court regards this as being in accordance with its own case-law on the importance of pluralism for democracy.”

The Court’s arguments resemble those which Ayaan Hirsi Ali used last year when she proposed to abolish article 23 of the Dutch Constitution, which guarantees freedom of education. She said that all children should be sent to state schools because “freedom of education hinders integration.” The former Dutch politician, who has meanwhile emigrated to the United States where she now works for the American Enterprise Institute, proposed to close down confessional schools because, apart from religious Christians, Muslim immigrants, too, had begun to establish their own confessional schools. According to Hirsi Ali the state should educate children “in order to ensure that they learn tolerance.”

The problem with entrusting the education of children to the state is, of course, that instead of parents “indoctrinating” their children with their own ideological and philosophical beliefs, they will be indoctrinated with those of the state – which is exactly why Hitler banned homeschooling in Germany in 1938.
More on this topic:

Homeschool Persecution in Germany, 25 September 2006

Germany Imprisons Mum. Dad and Kids Flee to Austria, 12 September 2006

Hitler’s Ghost Haunts German Parents, 1 August 2005


Actually, Benedikt, homeschooling has quite a tradition here in the US although that was interrupted for awhile. But we are still a small (albeit vocal) minority...approximately 2% of the population depending on the statistics you read. But many people feel as you...even I did prior to actually beginning to homeschool my children. While a certified teacher does have the advantage (and sometimes disadvantage) of formal training, consider these advantages of homeschooling:
1) You know your child like no one else.
2) Individualized instruction in every subject.
3) spend on subject your child is struggling with and to let them explore the materials and concepts.
4) The ability to relate all of the day's experiences to a lesson. My first grader learned fractions by helping me cook with little formal time spent on them and she learned the principles of multiplication helping me plan a garden.
5) Here, there are enough of us that it is fairly easy to find support and someone to help with subjects you aren't as good in.

The bit about integration into society is nothing but a myth. Homeschoolers are well integrated here...honestly, I think that is why they are such a perceived threat. Anyway, here is a link to an interesting research study about this "socialization" that everyone seems to think can only occur in the public school.

Homeschooling in Germany

The problem is also that there is no homeschooling tradition in Germany. We have a lot of confessional schools and other private school but the concept of Homoschooling is totally unknown here and most of the people are shocked when they hear that homeschooling is quite common in other countries.

I myself feel very unease with home-schooling but maybe it's due to this stated cultural ignorance here. Is someone here who knows homeschooling families and could share some experiences. (Of course, Mr. Belien home-schooled his children, but I doubt that most of the parents have the same capabilities in teaching.)

Is anyone surprised?

The European hunger for strong central government to make the important decisions in a person's life is too well known to need comment. Home schooling is a threat to the centralization of power. Therefore, it must be extinguished. Why would anyone be surprised?