Kids collect pine cones and learn to count, glue leaves and twigs to their paintings, and balance happily on an outdoor slackline even when it’s snowing. Watching the video of the “Bewegte Naturschule” creates the sensation: children could have fun learning so much, if only there was the right school for it.
This is exactly what will be founded in Atzldorf in the Freyung-Grafenau district – with only one trick: according to BR information, the founding initiative has links to the lateral thinker scene, conspiracy ideologues and right-wing esotericists.
Expert warns of “wolf in sheep’s clothing”
Experts such as Jan Nowak of the state coordination office “Bavaria against right-wing extremism” are alarming. Nowak says: “You have to consider real the danger that irrational, anti-Enlightenment and therefore essentially reactionary contents become part of everyday learning.” Several founding initiatives of these schools have emerged from the Crown protest movement in Bavaria, which at first glance are compatible with relevant parts of society. According to Nowak, they behaved like the “wolf in sheep’s clothing” who ultimately wanted to withdraw children from the state school system.
Already 70 enrollments in elementary schools
From 2021 a group of parents and teachers are planning a new school in the Bavarian Forest. About 70 children have already been enrolled in primary school and about 20 in high school, organizers told BR in writing. If they get their way, it could start in the fall. The initiative has now submitted a corresponding application for approval for a primary school to the Lower Bavarian government. Teachers have already found the initiative for future school operations, as well as a school building.
The mayor is a supporting member
Mayor Alexander Pieringer (CSU) has been trying for years to revive the empty school building in Atzldorf, a district of the municipality of Fürsteneck. He and the local councilors want the initiative to move into the building without rent for the first few years. And this despite the fact that the municipality has recently invested a lot of money in the renovation of the house. To support the project, Pieringer has also become a member of the “Bewegte Naturschule” association, as he says in the interview with BR.
The future teacher denounces the “harmful vaccines”.
What the mayor and other supporters of the project may not know or underestimate are the links of the school initiative, for example with the scene of the lateral thinker. For example, there is a naturopath who has advertised the “Bewegte Naturschule” in recent months. She presented the concept at the Atzldorf city council meeting, she appears in the school film and is listed on the website as part of the team as a psychological counselor and as a future teacher of Spanish and English.
At the same time, she is known to the police as a co-organizer of several anti-crown demonstrations in Passau in 2020. In her speeches she denied the effectiveness of the masks and spoke, for example, of “proven harmful vaccines that have paralyzed hundreds of people. Indian children and made women infertile in Africa “. However, the organizing team of the “Bewegte Naturschule” does not distance itself from this woman and her speeches. At the request of BR, it is specified instead that from the start of the founding initiative “no activities were known” of the naturopath.
Well connected with conspiracy theorists
The woman is also a member of the board of “Doctors and scientists for health, freedom and democracy”. In an interview with her BR lei, she claims she left the club. At the beginning of April 2022, however, she was still on the board of directors of the association register. The best-known member of this association is probably the emeritus professor of microbiology Sucharit Bhakdi, against whom the hate speech investigations are currently underway. The association spreads misinformation about the pandemic and vaccinations.
Is the naturopath an isolated case?
But is that woman just an isolated case among the founding members of the “Bewegte Naturschule”? The response to a plenary request from the Bavarian state parliament, available exclusively to the RBs, suggests other conclusions. Interior Minister Joachim Herrmann (CSU) confirmed: According to the police assessment, there is clearly an ideological proximity to the so-called “lateral thought movement”, ie to at least one person of the founding initiative. Additionally, the police now have information on other people associated with the school startup initiative. The appearance of these results remains unanswered in the document.
Advertising in relevant Telegram groups
According to the BR research, however, even more members of the initiative move into the ideological milieu of the lateral thinker and conspiracy. One of the chairmen of the board of directors appeared publicly with a letter to the director defending the controversial Passau gynecologist Ronald Weikl. A doctor who is currently on trial because he is said to have recklessly issued mask exemption certificates.
She and other prominent members of the “Bewegte Naturschule” also advertised the school on relevant Telegram channels and tried to raise donations for the associated association. When asked by BR, the initiators admit that the advertising could have been done on various channels. However, none of the team members are members of any of the mentioned groups.
Among these are also regional channels or groups of the “Freilerner” scene, which have already attracted attention in relation to the illegal school in the Rosenheim district: the network “Wissen creates freedom” (WSF) around the Austrian magician Ricardo Leppe. The fact that the school’s founding initiative wanted to work with this learning concept was demonstrated by an appeal on the 2021 homepage, which was later removed from the page: teachers who were familiar with the ‘learning strategies of R. Leppe ”were wanted.
Experts classify parts of the network as highly problematic. Jan Nowak of the state coordination office “Bavaria against right-wing extremism” says that the main problem is how to get around compulsory schooling thanks to the state measures of the crown. “But in reality it is about implementing one’s ideological ideas in school lessons, without public scrutiny by the supervisory authorities.” According to experts, the WSF draws its ideas from the right-wing esoteric movement Anastasia, for example, in which anti-democratic and racist statements are made.