What happened the day of the Raid in the district office Donauwörth (Jugendamt)
When I woke up that morning and heard that the police were there, I did not really know what to think. But I was sure that they would find nothing wrong with us. As we were gathered in the living room downstairs, I heard that they wanted to take the children away from the parents and I could not believe that they would actually do so. I was trembling all over.
After my father had prayed for us, we left the house, walked between two rows of policemen and all I could see were police cars and police officers. I went with my brother and three other children in a van and then we immediately drove off. It was a horrible feeling to know that someone you do not know and you do not trust, would take us somewhere. We did not know where and we do not know what they would do to us. When we arrived at the district office, we took the elevator to the second floor and then had to walk up a few flights of stairs until we came to a large, empty room. Next door were offices and there we were then interviewed.
My father had told me earlier that we are not obliged to say our names and so I sat there trembling. A younger girl sat next to me and we both did not know what to say. The staff from social services were trying to figure out who we were and asked us things like, “Are you going to be punished by parents, when you say your name? Why do not you tell us then how are you called? That’s not so bad!”
All I knew was that I felt completely alone and helpless. My brother and the other boys were in another office. I was very worried about my brother and the others and wondered if they would tell their names or would resist. I refused for a long time, but somehow I knew that I would eventually not get around it.
I had no idea what would happen and asked all the time why they did such a terrible thing to us. The only answer I got was that soon everything would be fine and that it would make us go a lot better soon. They offered us something to eat, but I replied that I did not want to eat anything until I was back home. Finally, after they had pestered us a long time with questions, we gave the names that we had in the community. However, because these were not our official name and not on their list, they begged us to tell them the truth. Then we gave our ages and then they knew who was the girl who sat next to me.
They were happy about it and gave her a name tag and immediately wanted then to take a picture of her with a big name tag and date of birth. When I told them that I am 20 years old, they did not believe me. Therefore, they led me into a large room in which we would later be all gathered and said that I should give them notice if I wanted to give them my name and my date of birth.
At this time, we met some other frightened children and mothers with breastfeeding babies and small children who also did not understand what was happening to them. They gave us breakfast and we sat at a long L-shaped table. Soon the room with the other children, who in turn reported their terrible awakening. At the other end of the room stood a few staff members of the youth ministry, they observed and talked and laughed together. They were too young to even have children and could probably not imagine what went on in us. If we had to go to the toilet, they accompanied us over and stood in the aisle other officers guard, so we could not escape.
Other people took the children’s data, took photos, and the children were examined one by one by a medical officer. I thought to myself that I could probably go home soon, but I also realized that the other children would not come back so quickly. I asked the other children if they knew what would happen and they told me that they should be brought to different foster parents and children or youth centers. We all freaked out at the thought of our parents and to be separated from each other. Until now, we were still at least comforted by that we could all be together.
The little children played with the toys and I cried because I knew that they were not aware of the what would happen next. Two of the mothers came up with the idea of the children singing and dancing in order to calm down a bit and cheer them up. In the middle of the song Mr. Singer ordered them to stop and be still. Then he called on individual children and sent them with with a few social workers that would take them to their accommodation.
The younger children began to cry and cling to their mothers. One of the girls insisted that her younger sister stays with her.
When it was the turn of the boy with diabetes, the mother took her little daughter in her arms and ran to him to prevent him being taken away from her. She said, “You can not take away from me this boy. He has diabetes and can die within an hour if you do not know how to deal with it. He has to stay with me.”
The first reaction of employees from social services was: “Yes, yes, we know about…”, but they gave the impression that they would be indifferent. The mother insisted, first to explain to someone how his treatment looked exactly. Then they agreed that the boy would be allowed to initially stay with his mother. The other children hugged each other in tears and left the room with a social worker.
So one by one the younger children went off. The siblings were able to stay together for the most part. An 8-year-old boy was screaming as he was torn away from his mother because he did not want to go along with the foster parents. His 4-year-old brother was also taken away screaming from his mother and then housed separately from his two older siblings to another foster family.
The social worker promised the children that they could call their parents all soon and see each other again. Children from other communities who were just visiting with us was explained that they could only go home if they would leave Germany immediately. A 15-year-old visitor said that she had been in Klosterzimmern with the written consent of her mother, to visit the community. This she had to show to be to return home.*
Slowly, the room emptied. The whole time I had to watch the children weeping bitterly; they tried to encourage each other. “I’ll call you as soon as possible…”
Once my brother stood up and announced in a loud voice: “This is the biggest injustice I’ve experienced in my whole life on this planet.”
He was beside himself and someone tried to calm him down. For some, it was at that time not yet clear where they should be placed, but it seemed as if always at least two children or young people together.
The children were placed with foster parents and young people in residential care. I was a little relieved that my brother would not have to be alone. But knowing that we would be separated from these children that we knew for so long was so terrible. We tried at the end to help the two remaining girls, so that they could stay together and would not be alone somewhere. That was quite a battle.
Some of the young people had heard where they should come and I tried to find out where my brother would be so that I could tell my parents.
Then it was my turn and I had to leave and leave my little brother with the others. I can not describe in words how painful the whole thing was for me, especially the thought that I did not know when I would see these children. With great difficulty I could restrain myself until I was home. When I told my friends what I had experienced, I could not hold back my tears.
Although it was a small consolation, and I was glad to be home, but the thought was so cruel that the children had only the clothes on her body there and they were deported to foreign places to strangers. I could imagine the children crying at night when going to bed without their parents who love them so much.
* An account of her daughter’s day from Susan Herweg:
Our daughter had then decided to observe this life in the summer holidays over an even longer period of time to really get to know it properly. During this time the first raid took place!
Our daughter was, like all other children, simply dragged away, although we parents had filed a written certification that she was with our consent there. She had to be subjected to the humiliating examinations like all children, down to the the underpants! She has fully experienced the grief of her beloved friends and she was in shock!
After the examinations she was returned back to Klosterzimmern, and was then, besides a child of a visitor that lived up the time with her mother there, the only child there. The Jugendamt (Youth Welfare Office) threatened our daughter to be brought into a facility, for, according to the youth welfare office, parents who let their children live there — their child ought to be also taken away!