September 5, 2013, Yom Teruah (the Day of Awakening)
6:00 a.m. Thursday morning, September 5th, about 100 policemen in about 25 vans drove onto our property followed by about as many social workers, led by the chief of the local social services. As quickly as they had zoomed in, they spread strategically over the property. Since it was our high Shabbat, Yom Teruah (Rosh HaShannah), the first of the ten days of Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement), we were not gathering until 8 o’clock that day. We were still in bed, except some who were milking our animals. It is hard to believe that they didn’t know that the best time to get us was on one of the High Holy Days of Jewish tradition.
We awoke to the noise of the vans and policemen talking around our houses, some were surprised by policemen entering their bedrooms. Getting dressed quickly, while frantically calling friends and our lawyer, we were herded by many heavily armed policemen and the officials of the social services into our living room. One of the social workers read us the court decision that the custody of all the children of the parents of the Twelve Tribes Community in Klosterzimmern under 18 years of age was partially (concerning residency, medical care, education and relationships) taken away and given to the social services, and that we were to immediately let them go; otherwise they would use force.
We were asked our names and the names of our children, which we were not sure if we should give, since it all seemed like an unbelievable attack against our human rights. The chief of police then asked us to hand all our children and youth over to them, including a young woman who was just visiting. As we hesitated we saw the social workers putting their black gloves on and knew that they were getting ready to forcefully grab our children from us if we did not cooperate.
Scenes from our last raid in October 2002 flashed through our minds so, one of us said: “Wait a minute! We will pray for our children!” So we decided to pray for our children and then sent them with the social workers to spare them the violence of forcefully being pulled away from us. The nursing mothers were allowed to accompany their babies.
After our children were gone we were asked to have pictures made of every one of us, holding a number for identification. We offered to identify ourselves by our legal identifications, which they were not interested in. The chief of police and SS “Staatsschutz” threatened that if we were not to comply to having the pictures taken, we would receive heavy fines and be put into prison. Single file, we were called into a room to have pictures taken while holding up a number, just like a criminal. The number was afterwards recorded on their list of registration. I felt as if I experienced the same treatment that I had read about in reports during my youthhood about the Jews in the Nazi time. I had the feeling that if they could have they would have taken us straight to the concentration camp.
As we started to awake from our shock, we realized that our children were gone and that we had let them go without really being informed about our legal rights or allowed legal defense. We addressed the policemen and officials, saying that what was happening did not seem legal, and that we wanted to see our children, know where they were taking them, see a lawyer, and be given the legal documents about the procedure. They merely told us that it was all legal and there was nothing we could do, and they tried to calm us down by saying that we would soon find out where our children are and be able to communicate with them. They did not allow us to leave the room.
Now, three days later, we know that we were lied to. After many investigations, most parents still do not know where their children are (ages 3 – 17). Some older children were given money and phone numbers before leaving and promised to call us. They have not done so, obviously because they are kept by force from doing that. The lawyers assigned to them do not know where they are and also do not have any contact information.
We did not see any official documents other than a paper that was addressed to the “parents of the minor children of the Twelve Tribes Community in Klosterzimmern” – no names, just a general information that “our” (whose?) custody was taken from us and that we could get information from a phone number of the social services. Any official numbers that we tried to call later on only told us that they are not allowed to give us any information.
We found out that a lawyer and other friends of ours that tried to come to our aid during the raid were not permitted entry to our property. By the time we were given any legal documents about the procedures, upon the stern demands of a lawyer, it was Friday afternoon. Any office was closed by then for the weekend. The lawyers assigned to our children had just received their documents, some are still on vacation, and those who tried could not reach any official information either.
So, we have to wait until Monday, hardly able to sleep, eat, or think straight, suffering not knowing where our children are. All of this supposedly has been done because of concern for the well-being of our children and to assure that their rights are being preserved. Those who seem so concerned about our children, like the chief of the social services and the county chief, have gone on vacation for the next two weeks. The judge who signed the court order is too busy to talk to us.
So there are no legal institutions to appeal to about the injustice we feel has happened. We have no one to turn to except the one Righteous Judge who will one day judge according to what each person has done (John 5:28-29). We know that our Redeemer lives and He is our only hope and our advocate. We believe that all this has happened for a greater purpose and that our suffering will not be in vain, but will hopefully not only waken us up to a spiritual reality, but also many others. The people of Europe, especially the German nation, have suffered down through history under the heavy oppression of fear, both from political and religious powers. Our hope is that our deliverance, when it comes, will give people hope that there is One who judges justly.
~ Annette Schüle
(mother of six children, who lost her 13-year-old son in the Raid)
Read about the Schüle family.
Residence custody (not complete custody, but the right to determine where their son lives) was returned to the parents nearly five months later, on January 22, after he had run away from foster-care twice.