Two Polish parents denied visitation rights to children in Germany for speaking Polish

Foreign parents living in Germany, who lost their children to the child welfare agency, were denied visitation rights for speaking to their children in a language other than German. They have taken the issue to the European Parliament. Among the parents were ethnic Poles.
The Poles are among 10 non-German parents fighting the agency?s practice of refusing to allow parents to speak languages other than German to children whom the agency has taken from their parents.
The 10 non-Germans sent a petition about the matter to Marcin Libicki, general secretary of the parliament?s Petitions Committee. It asked that parliament intervene in what the parents contend is a significant threat to the non-border ideals of the EU. That led to hearings on the issue.
A parliamentary committee last week held its second hearing into the parents? complaint. The parents contend that the German Child and Youth Welfare Agency, also known as the Jugendamt, discriminates when it denies visitation rights to parents who speak languages other than German to children the agency has made wards of the state. Each of the 10 foreign parents is married to a German.
 ?The Jugendamt sets fathers against mothers, Germans against non-Germans, children against parents,? the petition said. ?It foments conflict, animosity and xenophobia within the family. It shows children, at an early stage, that not complying with the behavior which is expected of them by German officials inevitably leads to unending family strife, even the withdrawal of parental love.?
Children become wards of the state when there is conflict in the family or when the Jugendamt believes a child?s welfare is endangered. The two Poles involved in the petition are Beata Pokrzeptowicz-Meyer and Miroslaw Kraszewski.
When the two refused to obey a court order forbidding them to speak Polish to their children during visitations, the Jugendamt revoked their visiting rights…. wszystko ?
?Each of us tells the same story,? said Kraszewski, a doctor and radiologist living in Duisburg, Germany. ?The court ruled I mustn?t speak Polish to my child. I have a court order to that effect, which served as a precedent for the Jugendamt to forbid other Polish parents to speak Polish.?
?For the first time in the history of the world and Germany, a court ruled that a Polish father could not speak Polish with his son,? Kraszewski added.
?We brought up our kid in two languages,? Kraszewski said on Polish public TV. ?My wife spoke only German to him, whereas I spoke only Polish. When the kid was about to go to school, unpleasant discussions concerning his origin and my teaching him Polish started.
?My father-in-law said it this way: ?You are making a Polish monkey of your kid.? He emphatically and distinctly said ?Polacken affe.? Since I refused to sign a pledge not to speak Polish with my child, not only was I forbidden to see him, but he was forbidden to see me. The sole reason is that he is Polish and his father is Polish. No other reason was given in any court document.?
The Polish Parents Association Against Child Discrimination in Germany said there are more cases of discrimination against Polish-speaking parents.
Beata Pokrzeptowicz-Meyer, a Polish research assistant who came to Bielefeld, Germany, to lecture on Polish culture and language at Bielefeld University, experienced similar treatment.
?I was married and had a child, to whom I have no rights now,? she said. The court said I have problems communicating with the child?s father so I was deprived of parental rights.?
?The key to my story was my husband ? my former student,? she said. When they dated, she said, she was the youngest associate professor at the university.
After the couple broke up, she said, ?he made a big career for himself, becoming an important official in the Ministry of State of North Rhine-Westphalia, working in Dusseldorf. He married his boss and climbed up the ranks.
?Both those Germans wanted very much that my child speak only German,? and that is what a court ordered, she said. ?I had no possibility of defending my position.?
When she wrote to government agencies requesting intervention in the matter, ?all the ministries send me the same answer — that the German judiciary is independent. So my child is being flagrantly discriminated against by German officialdom. Everybody knows about the ban, including the psychologist who issued an opinion that it?s not harmful to the child to have contact with the Polish language and his Polish family.?
?In Germany everybody can study Polish and come to my classes, but the only one who can?t study Polish is my child, because he is Polish,? she said with bitterness.
Some sympathetic German officials have been surprised about the ban on speaking Polish to children who are wards of the state, but have been unable to do anything, some of the Polish parents say. That?s why they turned to the European Parliament.
Berlin attorney Stefan Hambura said Polish officials should have taken a stand on the issue. Poland and Germany signed a 1991 treaty governing their relations, including ways to deal with disputes, he pointed out. He said Polish officials should invoke the treaty to seek discussions about the matter with top German officials. German attorney Ingo Alberti believes parents who are foreigners are at a disadvantage when pleading their case in Germany. He said German authorities use technicalities in the law ?to make the parent?s defense impossible.? He contends ?that is a crime against children, as they deprive them of their national identity? — a human rights violation.
?Germans have lost many such cases before the European Tribunal,? he added.
Libicki, the general secretary of the European Parliament?s Petitions Committee, said it is good that the issue is receiving a full hearing before parliament. His implication was that putting a spotlight on the issue would lead to a solution.
The second Petitions Committee session on the issue was June 7. This time the witnesses included not just Poles who had immigrated to Germany. Non-German parents who were originally from France, Belgium, Italy and the U.S. spoke out as well, according to the Polish Press Agency (PAP).
Representative of the European Commission who attended the session said the EC will issue a white paper on the issue in two to three months. The report will determine if Germany has been guilty of national-origin-related discrimination in the Jugendamt?s handling of wards-of-the-state cases. If it finds discrimination, the German government will be asked for an explanation.
 The issue also could wind up in the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg, the highest EU court.

One thought on “Two Polish parents denied visitation rights to children in Germany for speaking Polish

  • December 7, 2018 at 3:14 am
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    Germans still harbor fascist mentality

    Reply

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