Decision of the State Court, Karlsruhe, concerning the appeal of Franz Josef Seitz against the removal of parental custody, Karlsruhe, April 15, 1937.
State Court [Landgericht] Karlsruhe, April 15, 1937
Civil Court I
1 ZFH 33/37 Parental authority concerning Willi Josef Seitz, born March 11, 1923
The appeal of the stoker Franz Josef Seitz in Karlsruhe, Kriegsstrasse 171, against the decision of the District Court B III Karlsruhe of April 6, 1937 is dismissed with costs [to plaintiff].
On April 6, 1937, the District Court B III Karlsruhe removed from the stoker Franz Josef Seitz parental custody of his son Willi Josef and ordered in the same instance that the boy be removed temporarily to the observation station of the Schloss Flehingen reformatory school. Concerning the circumstances which led to this measure, a detailed statement of the district court is appended to this decree.
The father appealed against this ruling with the petition that the judgment be reversed. He disputes that the criteria for an infraction according to §1666 of the Civil Code are not met. He insists that he has not endangered the emotional or physical wellbeing of his son or abused the rights of parental custody vested in him.
The son had a strict upbringing and is deeply religious. Since his expulsion from school, he has taken up an apprenticeship. There have been no complaints against his son either during his schooling or during his apprenticeship.
He does not deny that his son refused to take part in patriotic school festivals, refuses to give the "German greeting," and refuses to salute the flag. But this purportedly does not stem from [the father's] influence.
He says he did not prevail upon his son in any manner and left it up to him as to how he should behave. He himself formerly belonged to the Association of Bible Scholars and still belongs today to the confession of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Reference to the circumstances of the case and the charge made by the complainant will be made in detail in the file.
According to the findings, whose correctness is not disputed by the father, the boy refused to participate in patriotic ceremonies at school, [refused] to salute the flag, to give the “German greeting,” and to sing the national anthems. He explained to the school director that he would not become a soldier and, besides this, set down in two essays his opinion of current events. Consistent with his entire manner of behavior and according to opinions expressed in his school essays, the minor is not able to feel himself a German or even to evince respect for the great German men and their deeds or consciously to dedicate himself to his duties to his people [Volk] and his country. It is the specific duty of the parents to bring their children up in a way which does not alienate them from their German nature, to raise their children according to German customs and precepts, and to educate them spiritually and morally in the spirit of National Socialism in the service of the people [Volk] and the Volksgemeinschaft (Preamble and §2, Law Concerning the Hitler Youth of December 1, 1936, Reich Law Gazette I, p. 993).
An offense against this duty must be seen as a subjective failure of the parents in the interpretation of §1666 of the Civil Code. Contrary to the statements of the father, the court is convinced that the attitude of the son can be traced to the influence of the parents. The father is still a member of the Jehovah’s Witnesses. He was released from his post because of his activities as a Jehovah's Witness and also served a jail term for this [offense]. The mother holds the same opinions as the father. It is obvious that a youth at this age does not think for himself but adopts the convictions of his parents. In consideration of his behavior, he has additionally been expelled from school. [Because of this] it would therefore be impossible for him to receive the necessary further education in order to attain any career position. For all of this, [the court] acknowledges and rules with the district court that there exist the necessary preconditions to take legal measures according to §1666 of the Civil Code. Because those measures ordered by the district court do not exceed the requisite mandated by the unusual circumstances, the appeal must be rejected.
As the [court] order according to §1666, sub-paragraph 1, Clause 2 of the Civil Code is intended only as a temporary measure, however, the order from § 1666, sub-paragraph 1, Clause 1 should serve as the final [ruling], should such context not contradict the opinion represented in the decision of the court of appeals of 24 August 1934 (JFG 12, page 94).
Sign[ed] by Frankberg Hug[rest of name illegible] Krämer
Records Clerk of the Court Registry.