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June 4, 2012

Persecuted Homeschooling Father Launches Blog

What Does It Mean?

The name Der Blaue Brief (in English, “the blue letter”) refers to disciplinary letters children receive from their schools in the case of academic problems; while these letters are no longer blue, the name remains. According the Dudeks’ blog, getting a “blue letter” is a nightmare for parents and schoolchildren in Germany because it bears bad news. Schools send them out when a student’s grades are so low that he or she is in danger of having to repeat a class. While the school’s warning isn’t blue anymore, but looks like any other piece of mail, the name “blue letter” goes back to the 18th century when Prussian officers would be handed their discharge papers in a blue envelope. In those days, paper was often made—boiled, in fact—out of old clothing, and the Prussian army’s uniforms were blue—thus the term blue letter—sort of like the American term “pink slip.”

German homeschooling father Jürgen Dudek has been sentenced to jail, repeatedly assessed fines and threatened by social services with the removal of his children—all because he and his wife Rosemarie have persisted in a dreadful crime—homeschooling their eight children.

His most recent jail sentence was vacated and replaced with fines, but the stigma of a guilty conviction over home education is not something Jürgen Dudek believes is right. The couple’s criminal convictions are waiting review at one of Germany’s high constitutional courts. Although most of Germany’s homeschooling families have fled or are “underground,” Dudek has stated he will stay and fight for freedom—because, he says, someone “has to.”

To advance the cause of freedom in education in Germany Dudek has launched a blog called Der Blaue Brief. Dudek hopes to encourage others with his perspective on the fight for educational freedom in Germany.

The Dudeks are one of the more known homeschooling families in Germany precisely because they have stayed to fight. Since the social authorities have investigated them and found they are a loving, caring and well-functioning family, they appear to be unwilling to make good on custody threats. But the Dudeks can’t remember a time in their 12 years of homeschooling when they were not under duress from the authorities. In spite of this ongoing struggle, however, Dudek doesn’t intend to document his personal story. Rather, he plans to illustrate the overarching need for freedom in education in Germany and call for the government to respect this fundamental right.

“Each blog post should invite readers to take a new look at the core problem in my country: The German state is currently fighting the very families for which it should be grateful,” states Dudek. “We want to form a counterweight to the ignorance, arrogance, and deep-rooted prejudices with which alternative educational options such as homeschooling are currently being fought in Germany.”

The blog will feature new posts every several days—short articles of interest to German homeschoolers and an international audience alike.

Michael Donnelly, director of international relations at HSLDA, says that Der Blaue Brief fills a gap in the international community.

“Jürgen and Rosemarie are a courageous example to all who treasure freedom of education. I’m privileged to count Jürgen as a friend, and I believe that his firmness of conviction and unwillingness to surrender in the face of overwhelming pressure from German authorities is an important contribution to the international homeschooling movement,” he said.

Many have fled Germany over homeschooling, with few remaining to carry on the fight for liberty.

“The personal sacrifice Jürgen and Rosemarie are making is a testimony to all of us who treasure freedom,” says Donnelly. “So many other families have been forced to flee—when that happens no one is left to fight on behalf of justice and for others. This blog will be an important voice pointing out the need for freedom in education. I encourage all friends of educational freedom to subscribe and publicize his blog.”

 More Information

Read and subscribe to Der Blaue Brief.

A specific section of the site is dedicated to articles in English. Comments are welcome in German or English.

HSLDA actively supports families like the Dudeks. To support our ongoing work in pursuit of the freedom for all to homeschool you can donate to the Home School Foundation’s International Fund.