We realized many things about life in Germany. We knew the Goliath, or the god, that Education was. After all, we grew up there. We hoped that in the name of freedom he would fall. We knew other things, too, or thought we did.
- We knew from personal experience that parents could and would be imprisoned for not sending their children to public school.
- But we knew as well that it was possible to form real and warm relationships with school officials, psychologists, and even important officials in the Jugendamt. Obviously, we did not realize our “working relationship” was not working anymore—as we were to abruptly find out.
- We knew, or thought we knew, that we had many friends among our neighbors owing to the openness of our life, our Hoffests, our restaurant, our business dealings, and our markets1 As a young woman put it who was raised at Klosterzimmern: “We had guests staying with us all the time. Visitors enjoyed working with us on the farm, joining in our volleyball games, and seeing the things we did in our school – very creative and useful things. Many a time they would ask us if they could send their children to our school – “abuse” was never a thought.“
- We did not realize how far over the boundaries of acceptability our obedience to the Scriptures would put us, causing even people who once knew and heartily approved of us to turn against us. We did not realize that for almost all Germans obeying God or obeying man was almost always decided in favor of obeying man. But we have not been the first to be surprised.
- We did not realize how closely our dealings with the school bureaucracy mirrored that of the Bruderhof’s over eighty years ago. The hands that did not catch their children did catch ours.
- We did not realize the eerie similarities in the philosophies behind 1938 and subsequent laws mandating compulsory state-controlled education for all Germans. We did not realize that parents would be sent to jail for their children’s refusal to attend sex education courses.
- We did not realize the grave lack of commitment in Germany to either conscience or the Basic Law, which is founded upon conscience.
Where indeed have our human rights gone?
- We did not realize that the German legal system is inquisitorial in nature, even though it became a Roman law based legal system five centuries ago. This means the judge determines what, if any, evidence is admissible, which, if any, witnesses may testify, and even what, if anything, goes into the official court record. The judge has complete control over the judicial proceedings and is quite free to function as co-prosecutor.
Our parents have been surprised on all these points, not realizing what kind of judicial system their own country had. But ignorance is no excuse, is it?
We did not realize that this was one more area, the abandonment of Saxon law in favor of Roman law, where Martin Luther gave way before the princes. In this exchange of one law for another, “the very principles of society changed. In Roman law the prince is considered the absolute head of his land…a position that could not be claimed by native German law.“2 This exchange is how Germany ended up with a Roman law system, with an inquisitorial system of justice.
But what else could Luther do and retain his position and influence and prosperity?3 These three things were very important to him. In compromising with the State he set the pattern for German Christianity forever after him.
No doubt he would have objected to outlawing discipline of children and setting aside all the Scriptural support for parental rule in both the Old and New Covenants. After all, it was a matter he firmly believed in, taught, and practiced as a father himself. But if alive today, let there be no doubt, he too would give way. His followers do not betray his example by meekly submitting to a law against discipline; by a law outlawing the Word of God—they but follow it.
- Which since 5 September 2013 we have been denied admittance to. ↩
- “Pascal, R, The Social Basis of the German Revolution (Watts and Co., London, 1933), p. 130. He gave way in regards to other elements of the natural law he prized, such as its opposition to the practice of usury. ↩
- As a Lutheran scholar and historian of the Reformation, Marc Edwards wrote of Martin Luther, “Through compromise and accommodation to political realities, he tried to maintain his influence in order to preserve his central insights into Christian faith.” Luther’s Last Battles: Politics and Polemics (Cornell University Press, 1983), p. 208. ↩