Church-run homes investigated for abuse

Published November 1, 2008

Trier, Germany
Protestant leaders in Germany say they will investigate and expose past cases of mistreatment in church-run children’s homes after an investigation found that children had been physically and sexually abused in such institutions.

“We have established to our horror that even in church-run homes children were brought up with violence,” Bishop Margot Kassmann of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Hanover said Sept. 22. –

The bishop’s comments follow the preliminary findings of an investigation she commissioned into claims of violence and abuse at children’s homes run by the social welfare agency of the Hanover church in the 1950s and 1960s.

“Our investigations that have been undertaken by our social welfare agency have shown that there were infringements of human rights, and sexual assault by individuals in our institutions,” said Bishop Kassmann. “We need to listen to the victims, and the perpetrators must be brought to justice.”

Hans Bauer, the researcher employed to investigate the claims, found cases of physical and even sexual abuse, the German Protestant news agency EPD reported.

“Children in homes had to scrub tiles with toothbrushes or were locked into windowless cells for days on end,” Mr. Bauer was quoted as saying by the news agency on Sept. 15.

“The violation of the most vulnerable was the order of the day,” said Bishop Kassmann.


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