Opening of schools in Germany based on deliberate lies and deception

Last week, the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) again reported almost 1,000 daily deaths and well over 30,000 new infections in Germany. With cold storage facilities and crematoria in several cities already overwhelmed by corpses, hospitals nationwide face making decisions about who can receive life-saving treatment or be refused it. Among the population, the excess mortality rate rose steadily to 14 percent in November. In Saxony, it is now as high as 55 percent.

This mass death, unprecedented in post-war German history, was deliberately brought about by the federal and state governments’ drive to keep workplaces open and thus secure the profits of the banks and corporations at the expense of workers’ health.

Schools and day-care centres around the world have played a key role in the outbreak since the beginning of the pandemic. However, governments have repeatedly resorted to pseudo-scientific data and outright lies to justify the policy of keeping schools, businesses and day-care centres open amid the pandemic. This has ranged from “studies” on the absence of outbreaks in deserted facilities, as in Saxony, to calculating the “human capital costs” of “lost education,” to promoting the right-wing propagandists of “herd immunity.”

Students arrive at the 'Friedensburg Oberschule' school for the first day at school after the summer vacations during the new coronavirus outbreak in Berlin, Germany, Monday, Aug. 10, 2020. (AP Photo/Michael Sohn)

At the same time, the education and health authorities have refused to implement the RKI’s measures at schools and to test the classmates of infected children. The “diffuse outbreak” resulting from this policy has served as a pretext to cover up the fact that workplaces, schools and day-care centres are the central drivers of the pandemic. The mass spread of the virus among the population would not have been possible without this deliberate policy of coverup by the state executives and their education ministers.

The criminality with which this campaign has been conducted was most recently demonstrated by the deliberate suppression of a study from Hamburg that had existed for months, according to which massive outbreaks were also taking place within schools in Germany. The study was not mentioned by the Hamburg education minister or any of his colleagues. Instead, ministers lied in unison that the schools were safe.

Yet, the results of the study are clear. The Heinrich Pette Institute and the University Medical Centre Hamburg-Eppendorf (UKE), who investigated the case of a mass outbreak at the Heinrich Hertz School, had concluded, “Infections/transmissions have taken place at the school.” They deduced from the almost universally “identical genome sequences” that “the vast majority of transmissions were most likely due to a single source of infection.” “The possibility that the outbreak resulted from independent inputs can be ruled out with a probability bordering on certainty.”

The study was prepared as early as September, but its existence only became known shortly before the Christmas holidays, when the Hamburg social authorities felt compelled to respond to a specific and legally justified request for information from a private individual.

Hamburg’s Education Senator (state minister) Ties Rabe (Social Democratic Party, SPD), who, without any factual basis, had claimed since the beginning of the pandemic that schools were “infection-proof,” has withheld this study for months.

As recently as November, based on an internal “analysis of figures” by the authorities, Rabe had claimed that 85 to 90 percent of pupils had been infected outside of school, at home or in their free time.

Rabe is a spokesman for all SPD-led state education ministries and knew about this study for a long time. Shortly before the conference involving state and national government representatives with Chancellor Angela Merkel (Christian Democratic Union, CDU) at the end of November, he still vehemently advocated keeping schools open for face-to-face lessons. “School and lessons are much safer than leisure time and the home,” Rabe wrote, “this applies to pupils just as much as school employees.”

Even official government data show that teachers and educators are at great risk day after day. For example, figures from the state school authorities in North Rhine-Westphalia show that the incidence of coronavirus among teachers more than doubled in October and November—both in absolute numbers and in relation to the population as a whole. At the same time, data on incapacity to work from the health insurance companies Barmer and AOK show that educators, medical assistants and nursing staff are particularly likely to contract COVID-19. Among educators, the incidence is more than 2.2 times higher than the average for those with health insurance.

But although they must have been aware of these figures, as well as the Hamburg study and many other scientific papers proving the high incidence of infections in schools, the state education ministers kept claiming schools were safe.

As late as mid-November, Berlin’s education senator Sandra Scheeres had shamelessly spread the lie that “schools and day-care centres are the safest places to break infection chains.” On November 30, she asserted that the mass infections of pupils and teachers registered by the RKI, among others, “take place outside of school.” At that time, the young teacher Soydan A. from the Berlin district of Kreuzberg was already in hospital with COVID-19 and later died after he had most likely been infected at school.

Schleswig-Holstein’s Education Minister Karin Prien (CDU) falsely declared in mid-November that there were “no indications whatsoever that schools are drivers of infection in this situation.” More recently, she rejected the demand for early consultations on an extension of distance learning and again emphasised that it was her government’s “goal” to “reopen schools as the first social sector.”

The education minister of Rhineland-Palatinate, Stefanie Hubig (SPD), went so far as to attribute false quotes to scientists to justify keeping schools open. After a hearing of various epidemiological and medical experts on December 7, she published a press release in which quite a number of those present found themselves dishonestly misquoted.

Alexander Kekulé from Halle University Hospital, who had stated in the weeks before that there were “the most serious outbreaks at secondary schools,” was quoted in the press release in a way that distorted what he had said. He wrote to the Ministry of Education, “The two sentences are not mine. Please only quote what I actually said.” Epidemiologist Professor Markus Scholz from Leipzig protested against “this kind of appropriation and falsification” and spoke of “pure propaganda”—a term also used by the Rhineland-Palatinate Philologists’ Association in a joint public protest statement by those involved.

In addition to Kekulé and Scholz, the association’s statement quotes medical specialist Dr. Jana Schroeder, “Your press statement suggests I agreed with its content as an expert, which was and is not the case, [therefore] I expect you to either correct this or remove my name under your statement.” She mused whether “you were in a different conference than I was.” On behalf of the scientists and physicians involved, the association concludes, “Since opposition to disagreeable expert opinions seems to be very strong in the Ministry of Education, the Philologists’ Association calls for the unabridged recording to be passed on to the press.”

Scheeres, Prien and Hubig are the new vice-presidents of the Standing Conference of the Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs (KMK). The new president, Britta Ernst (SPD) from Brandenburg, has also lied about safe schools in the past and has already announced that she wants to reopen schools quickly.

Baden-Württemberg’s education minister, Susanne Eisenmann (CDU), has already announced that from January 11, “day-care centres and primary schools will be reopened for in-person teaching … regardless of the incidence figures.” The same applied to those in “grades 5, 6 and 7 as well as the final grades.” Amid the pandemic, life-threatening face-to-face teaching “cannot be replaced by anything,” the minister explained in an interview with the Deutsche Presseagentur.

Using brazen lies and falsified data, the federal and state governments want to push through their policy of keeping schools and businesses open against growing resistance among the population. Students have long since organised themselves into independent action committees and plan to strike when their schools reopen. Among parents and teachers, anger and indignation are growing in face of tens of thousands of deaths and hundreds of thousands of new infections. This will take on even sharper forms with the exposure of the criminal fraud by the education ministers.