A long three months later we parents finally found ourselves in district court. We had prepared ourselves for weeks ahead of time, hoping to be heard in court. But we were not heard, but only encountered prejudice. We had obviously been condemned from the beginning as “cult members” and thus we were considered “not credible” and treated with mistrust. Even the guardian could see the trauma of our son, but that seemed to impress no one. All of them said it was for Helez’ welfare that he was in the foster home.
The affected person wants to return to his parents because he loves them. He would have nothing else in his life. He would also like contact with his parents, and just to make phone calls was not enough for him. The will of the affected child is understandable, but he met the undersigned (lawyer) also with great reluctance and I experienced him as nervous and slightly open. He expressed his will quite confidently — he wanted to be back with his parents.
It is questionable, however, whether the person who has grown up since birth in the Community can ever have a free will. The will of the children is broken by the adults in the community from the beginning, and their own decision-making is prohibited them, in the extreme case by corporal punishment. The person concerned (Helez) does not know any alternative (to being disciplined) so far. It is not disputed that the love and affection of the person concerned for his parents is real and perceived/felt that way. However, it is not clear to the person concerned that these methods of education go beyond boundaries —both ethically and legally. Therefore, the idea of a free, uninfluenced will is out of the question.
For the foregoing reasons, it is recommended to maintain the order of the Court dated 01.09.2013. The undersigned (lawyer) is convinced that the parents are not able to guarantee to the person concerned (Helez) an environment free of psychological and physical violence. Also they do not contribute to the person concerned complying with compulsory education. This recommendation is not in line with the expressed will of the person concerned (the child), but it is what serves his well-understood interests the best.
With friendly greetings,
Helez` only way out of this hopeless situation was to flee home — the place where he wanted to be. This showed them what his will was.
In early December, 2013, despite the ice and snow he ran away early in the morning with his friend from the home and came to his home.
But then the chase began. Two days later, members of the Jugendamt (youth ministry) came with police and threats and the intention to re-take the boy against his will. After three exhausting days under the constant fear that there could be a police raid again, a court order then hit us. His friend was now allowed to stay at home, but he himself was again to back alone into the home. Why did this cruel action have to be enforced? It was terrible to our son to go!
We had not quite given up hope and decided to appeal to the higher court. Surely we would find there a judge who would finally put an end to all this madness. So we drove on December 4, 2013, early in the morning going to the Appeals Court in Augsburg:
We were hoping to be able to be heard without an appointment to achieve that the desire of our son would finally be heeded. Indeed — we were welcomed, but unfortunately in the presence of the Jugendamt and waiting in front of the door of the court was a police patrol car to bring Helez to the home again after the interview.
The usually shy Helez fought hard to explain before the chief judge of the Court of Appeal that he wants to go home.
My guardian ad litem is my enemy!” He announced.
I will live in no other home, I want to go home!
The allegations of the witnesses are lies. My parents love me!
I do not go back voluntarily to the home. I want to go my home!
All his arguments were of no avail. Admittedly, the judge promised soon to schedule a hearing, and on the part of the Youth Office more visitation was awarded to us, but then we had to get Helez to go back to the home, because even then another round of traumatizing violence action by the police was threatened. With mixed feelings, but in the hope that at an early date justice in the state’s supreme court should prevail, we decided to bring himself back to the home. Helez did not voluntarily return to the home. He would have fought even with the police for his freedom. Why did this cruel action have to be carried out?
He wrote more desperate letters to the judge, and even to the Bavarian president Seehofer. Neither we his parents nor Helez, have gained the impression that in this process that we get a fair hearing.
December 12, 2013
Your honor Mr. P.,
I wanted to tell you of my greatest wish. I want to go home. I have had it at the foster home. There is no reason that I’m still separated so long from my parents. Can you please allow me to go home before Christmas? I’m usually the one who barely gets to visit my parents. My health is getting worse. The longer I am away from my parents, the worse it gets for me. I really want to go home. I miss everyone. I would do anything to be able to go back home again. I do not understand why you believe the lies that are told about my parents. These witnesses who spread all these lies should just stop and destroy happy families. When I am back home I can happily take on the task of fighting these lies. I would like you to hear me about them and not the lies that have been spread.
With friendly greetings,
At his hearing, Helez was determined to go home the same day with us. During the court hearing, though, policemen guarded the exits of the Court to avoid an encounter with us parents, as well as an escape. Again Helez told the judge clearly that he wanted to go home and that go he will — with or without a court order.
Excerpt from testimony before the Munich Higher Regional Court:
I know the background of the separation from my parents. My parents are said to have abused me.
However, these allegations are not true.
To the question, whether he was chastised with the rod and upon explicit instruction that he did not have to say anything about this, Helez stated:
If I did something bad to my mother, and she has commanded strokes, I already have received it. The blow made with the rod. This has also hurt shortly. I thought it was ok. It was good for me. I learned (my lesson) fast, not to do that anymore.
The last time I got one was around the age of 9 or 10 years. Since then, not anymore.
Although sometimes I have badly behaved since then against my mother. But I am not therefore chastised.
I have seen myself that this was bad and apologized for it.
If you yourself respect your parents, you ara a “Bar Mitzvah.” I do believe that I already am.
To the question, which wish he had: Helez explained in tears, that he wanted to go home, that he wanted all the other children to come home and that he wanted compensation for their pain and suffering.
Helez futher explained:
I think it’s inhumane, what was done to me.
When I return to my parents, I have no fear of being chastised with the rod. I would be happy if I were back at my parents.
Helez Ran Away Again
At the end of January Helez braved the cold and again fled from his afternoon classes at school and appeared in our home on the same evening, almost “out of the darkness.” It was easier for him (the second time) and the absolutely determined to “keep away” not again. This time he would fight, which unfortunately he had learned during his stay in the home.
A few days later, after further threats from the Jugendamt (youth welfare office), of another violent removal, finally came the decision: the court would at least give us back the residence determination!
Our treatment has made lasting impressions
Helez was ejected without any warning from his usual peaceful environment by being taken into custody and thrown into a completely different life, a completely different view of life and culture — an environment filled with daily beatings and indecent dealing, which he was not equal to. All his confidence, especially the people he trusted in, were gone at once and he had to be completely alone in another world and find his way around in it. He was aware of closed he was kept away from us his parents, his siblings, and friends, his life in the community, religion — he was supposed to be re-educated, so to speak!
The actions of the authorities since the raid on 5 September 2013 and the resulting situation with our children is for all parents and children affected very, very difficult. The anguish experienced by the separation of children from their parents, and their trauma are obvious. Nightmares of police raids and feelings of hatred against the German authorities, in particular against the caregivers from the Jugendamt (social services) and the Bavarian courts, have left a lasting impression. We love our son above everything, just like we love our other children. They are, now more than ever, the most important thing in our lives.
Klaus and Annette Schüle