A recent study revealed that in the 1970s, the Berlin Senate had financed a project in which homeless teens were deliberately sent to pedophile men who were employed as their foster fathers and took care of them
Already in 2009 it came to light that many children and young people from 1965 to the end of the 80s, have become victims of sexual abuse by teachers at the Odenwaldschule.
In particular, the researchers found links to the Odenwald School, a boarding school where the Berlin Senate sent underage boys, many of whom are assumed to have later become subject to sexual abuse.
The Senate is now set to investigate the issue, but so far no concrete steps have been made. "This is not an issue of the past," said Christine Bergmann, former Minister for Family Affairs and now a member of the Independent Commission on Sexual Child Abuse. The Commission, which was founded about a year ago, deals with all forms of sexual abuse of children in Germany. However, Norbert Denef, head of Network of Victims of Sexual Violence who himself was sexually abused when he was a child, said that the Commission lacks the power and political will to conduct a proper inquiry. "The concealment of abuse scandals is systematic and there is a lack of political will to really work it all out," Denef told Sputnik Germany. "This commission is politically authorized only to listen to the victims' stories, it doesn't actually work on them," he stated.
Denef himself has already had experience with the work of the Commission. The Commission refused to take his case, when he requested permission to record the proceedings. Its members said that they were further interested in his story, but recording of any conversation is not permitted. Denef is annoyed about the unwillingness or inability of the Commission to take concrete steps toward solving the cases of child abuse in Germany. "We have always been listening to stories over the last six years. The therapeutic world has been listening to such stories for decades. This is, from our point of view, a restraining tactic, according to which they again "only" listen," Denef argued, adding that "something is being done, but nothing actually happens."
One of the main problems, according to Denef, could be the fact that the Commission is actually powerless to solve such cases. It doesn't receive access to many relevant files. Moreover, there are also problems with financing.
According to preliminary data, the Commission will have around 1.4 million euro available by 2019. With this money, it can hold only about 500 hearings, which won't be enough given the fact that some 415 people have already applied for a confidential hearing.
In 1998 reports from former students were made public, according to which the then at the time headmaster Gerold Becker had sexually abused multiple students from the 1970s to the 1980s. Andreas Huckele, a former student, who went to the Odenwaldschule from 1981 to 1988 and was later protected by the Frankfurter Rundschau with the pseudonym Jürgen Dehmers, had sent two letters to headmaster Wolfgang Harder in June 1998.
The school explained in 1998, the former headmaster had never contradicted "the victim's statements when he had to meet with the board of directors and vacated his functions and duties of the Odenwaldschule's sponsoring organisation". In 1998 the victims of sexual abuse met with the former headteacher Harder and the former SPD-MP Peter Conradi as the vice-president of the sponsoring organisation and agreed on reviewing the abuse cases, but this did not take place.
In the late 1990s, and again in 2010, the school became the center of national attention, when an investigation revealed the sexual abuse of more than 130 pupils by at least 8 teachers in the 1970s and 1980s.
One year late the penal case review was dismissed by the Darmstadt prosecution service due to statutory limitation. When Jörg Schindler reported about it in the Frankfurter Rundschau in November 1999, Florian Lindermann, the former spokesman for the former students, criticised the coverage as over the top.
In 2010 Margarita Kaufmann, who since 2007 served as headmistress, called for a new enquiry into the sex abuse cases. Kaufmann spoke of 33 victims that she knew of and eight teachers, who supposedly are guilty of sexual assault between 1966 and 1991. In the meantime it was assumed that more than ten teachers were perpetrators. The music teacher Wolfgang Held, who died in 2006, was the main perpetrator alongside Becker. The Frankfurter Rundschau daily newspaper reported on 6 March 2010 in a top priority article, that there was an assumption there is between 50 and 100 sex abuse victims. In total, the Darmstadt prosecution service once more dismissed six of the 13 preliminary proceedings until 2 May 2010. At the end of May 2010 the prosecution service investigated against six former teachers and one student. There was no court ruling until the end of 2012.
In a letter sent by Gerold Becker to the Odenwaldschule in March 2010, he asked his victims for forgiveness and wrote he renewed his expressed desire to come forward to speak to the victims, which he wanted to do since the first reports came out in 1999. Becker died on 7 July 2010 without having been made penally responsible.
The board of directors at the Odenwaldschule at first rejected a compensation in a letter to the victims in July 2010. In September 2010 the board of directors promised a financial compensation for 50 former students who were affected. In addition there are more unresolved cases, which are still to be reviewed.
The lawyers Claudia Burgsmüller and Brigitte Tilmann were entrusted with the task of reviewing the sex abuse cases in the early part of 2010. According to the final report from 17 December 2010 at least 132 students were victims of attack by teachers between 1965 and 1998. The lawyers said the documentation was incomplete.
Official school letters, found in archive and reviewed in a dissertation, point a fact that there already was sex abuse cases on girls and boys under the management of Paul and Edith Geheeb. However no one contacted the police.
In March 2011 Christian Füller's monograph, entitled Sündenfall. Wie die Reformschule ihre Ideale missbrauchte (literally- The Fall of Man. How the reform school abused its ideals), was published. Füller calls the school, when it was under Becker's management, a "reformed education paradise with a torture chamber in the basement" based on the model of a "aristocratic patriarchy". He speaks of paedophiles and "robbers of childhood", which had systematically taken over the part of the school.
Tilman Jens, a former student and up until the early part of summer in 2014 was a member of the Odenwaldschule's sponsoring organisation, published two months later the book Freiwild. Die Odenwaldschule - Ein Lehrstück von Tätern und Opfern. (literally - Fair game. The Odenwaldschule - a lesson of attackers and victims.) Jens demanded a balanced coverage: contrary to the customs of the constitutional state also innocent people were denounced as assailants or co-assailants.
In October 2014 he summarised according to an article of the Deutschlandfunk that even if the film Die Auserwählten (The Favoured Few) was filmed at the Odenwaldschule which showed the willingness of the school's management at this time to face the history of misconduct, in the years before further resolutions are said to have faltered multiply times.
In September 2010 several victims formed a group called Glasbrechen (literally - breaking of glass), who had the goal of helping people, who had experienced sexual, physical and psychological attacks.
In July 2011 the former headmistress Kaufmann resigned from her office to solely deal with the review of the sexual abuse cases.
Without any media presence the club Odenwaldschule e.V. with the Altschülervereinigung und Förderkreis der Odenwaldschule e.V. (literally - Association of former students and society for promotion of the Odenwaldschule) formed the foundation "Brücken bauen" (literally - building bridges). According to its charter the foundation should be responsible for carrying out and supporting measures for those, who had suffered from sexual violence and physical and psychological abuse at the Odenwaldschule.
A fierce critic of the review is Andreas Huckele, known for his book Wie laut soll ich denn noch schreien?, which he wrote under his pseudonym. In his acceptance speech for winning the Geschwister-Scholl-Preis in 2012 he criticised about the lack of action taken by the school since the first article was published in the Frankfurter Runschau in 1999.
Teachers and management dismissed because of child pornography
On 9 April 2014 a teacher, who taught and lived there from 2011, had their room searched through by the authorities. The teacher admitted to having downloaded from the internet child pornography before his appointment at the Odenwaldschule. He was immediately dismissed from teaching at the school. The district administrator Matthias Wilkes criticised the school's management because they had not adhered to promised transparency.
After this incident in June 2014, the headmaster Däschler-Seiler handed in his resignation. In July 2014, the sponsoring organisation dismissed the entire management.
Attempts to save the Odenwaldschule
In February 2015, Gerhard Herbert, as chairman of the sponsoring organisation, introduced a new management team consisting of the boarding school's headteacher Sonya Mayoufi, born in 1973, and manager Marcus Halfen-Kieper, born in 1967. The new management team tried to rebuild trust in the Odenwaldschule and put an end to the organisation's failures from the last couple of years. Additionally the school's sponsorship was to be transferred to a foundation and to a not-for-profit private limited company. The new management team should take over the running of the company after they received permission, however the sponsoring organisation dismissed the team on 27 July 2015 after having disputed with them.
Closure of the school
The sponsoring organisation publicly announced on 25 April 2015 that it had not succeeded in securing the finances for the next couple of years, after lots of trust by the banks and former students had been squandered. This means the definite end for the school.
Kinderporno-Vorwurf gegen Lehrer: Opfervertreter fordert Schließung der Odenwaldschule "Optimale Ausgangssituation für Pädophile" 20.04.2014
Abuse Scandal Widens Board Members of Top German School Resign March 29, 2010
Odenwald school principal reveals horror abuse reports 02.06.2010
Germany faces up to sexual abuse after scandals at Catholic, other schools Isabelle de Pommereau APRIL 19, 2010
A new sexual abuse scandal in the central state of Hesse has rocked Germany. Recent details emerging suggest there may be many more victims involved.
A report from an inquiry reveals that least 35 male students were subject to sexual abuse at a school in the western German city of Darmstadt between 1961 and 1994. This number is in addition to presumed 130 cases at another school in the region, the infamous Odenwaldschule.
The teacher, who for decades had abused the children at these schools, was sentenced to four years in prison in 2005 in 15 counts of abuse but died in 2008.
The full extent of the teacher's series of assaults is only beginning to emerge, with strong indications of the school districts having played a role in a cover-up.
The undersecretary of the state of Hesse in charge of the state's Ministry of Education and Culture, Manuel Lösel, commented that the report documented "unspeakable acts."
"I am angry and speechless," Lösel said, promising to pay 10,000 euros ($11,000) to each victim as a "symbolic" compensation for pain and suffering. Lösel also stated that the school system had failed in recognizing the full extent of the abuse.
The document stressed that many students reporting abuse at the time had apparently not been taken seriously - not by their teachers nor by their parents.
German Green party co-leader 'regrets' 1980s paedophilia pamphlet Philip Oltermann 16 September 2013