Forum for Freedom of Religion in Europe

At the same time as the 5 September 2013 Raid in Klosterzimmern…

FOREF“…the raid in Klosterzimmern (near Nördlingen), there was Wornitz House also a police operation in Wörnitz. And thus, on the day of the raid, a total of 41 children were led off from both congregations. In Klosterzimmern twelve families with 29 children were affected, in Wörnitz it was five families with a total of 12 children.

“Even the sons and daughters of guest families visiting with the Twelve Tribes at the time, were taken. That same day, 7 children of parents who were only visiting the religious community were returned.1 One mother from Israel would not let go of her child in the first place. She managed to show the officers her Israeli passport, not letting go of her child. After some verbal back and forth she finally was left in peace. By now the German authorities do have a certain inhibition about taking a child away from a Jewish woman, at least.


Asher and his son, Israel.

“Some parents from Argentina that didn’t speak any German, were not that lucky. They tried for hours to contact the Argentinean consulate, yet to no avail. Their three-year-old child was finally taken to a host family that did not speak Spanish. Only 9 days later did the family receive their child back. The hearing found that in the preparations for the police raid, the District Court had acted very unprofessionally and hastily. This child as well as the other seven children of guest families should not have been taken in the first place.”

The Second Raid of December 9, 2013

“A second raid took place in Dürrlauingen (Günzburg County) in the St. Nikolaus Mother-Child House. That is where three mothers of the “Twelve Tribes” were staying who were not supposed to be separated from their children in the first raid since they were still nursing their children. The authorities placed them under supervision demanding that they stop nursing.

“In the morning of December 9th, 2013, at 7 o’clock the Jugendamt and the police knocked at the door. There was no advance notice. One observer of the raid was completely horrified at the piercing squeals he heard as the policemen went in to tear the children away from their mothers.2 One of the mothers, the 27-year-old Raissa Santos Reip, wanted to nurse her daughter one last time. She was not granted this wish – instead two officers twisted her arms backwards and took her girl from her. (A video report of the affected mother and her husband here–in German.)

“The police took all three babies and four older siblings away and led them off in a different car each. Every child was taken to a different foster family in order to prevent any communication among them.3

Shocked Neighbors

The educators and the neighbors of the institution were shocked. One of them would call the action “beneath contempt.”


“This was beneath contempt” complains Manfred Herrmann, a citizen of Dürrlauingen: ”This is not how you deal with people,” says the 74-year-old. He is not sympathizing with the community of believers, but: “What happened there was unseemly.”

The parents of Dürrlauingen who signed the letter of protest said of their own children, who had become friends with ours in school: “Our children are terrified. They could not even say goodbye to their friends.” Can they not but wonder whether they are next to be taken?


  1. One mother of a guest child, Susan Herwig, wrote of what her daughter experienced when seized: “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!”
  2. For reactions of those neighbors, see the post, “Anniversary of the Second Raid.”
  3. Cf. also Mayr, Stefan: „Mit aller Gewalt“ (With All Force), Süddeutsche Zeitung, Nr. 11, 15.01.2014, p. 3. See the English Translation, “With All Force.”