Controversial haasenburg homes: minister rejects reopening

In the legal dispute over the closure of Haasenburg, Brandenburg’s Minister Munch rejects a settlement. Now the Higher Regional Court will decide.

Remain closed for the time being: the Haasenburg homes. Picture: dpa

Brandenburg’s Youth Minister Martina Munch (SPD) rejects a legal settlement with Haasenburg GmbH. Last week, the Berlin-Brandenburg Higher Regional Court (OVG) had suggested that the operator be allowed to reopen a home with a new concept. But this is out of the question in the view of the minister. "We have intensively examined the court’s proposal to examine the reopening of the Haasenburg homes on the basis of a new concept by the operator and reject it as a result," Munch said after the cabinet meeting in Brandenburg on Tuesday.

The three Haasenburg homes were closed at the end of the year. Munch justified the closure at the time by stating that there was a latent risk to the welfare of children there, as the children there "had to expect disproportionate physical coercive measures at any time" and the pedagogical self-image was characterized by "predominantly excessive, schematic and bullying educational measures at the expense of the young people accommodated there".

It bases itself on the report of a commission of inquiry. Its recommendations had made clear that there were considerable deficits not only at individual points, but "almost in all areas of the Haasenburg homes". In mid-January, the Cottbus Administrative Court ruled in favor of Munch in the first instance. The OVG may assess the matter differently, since the Social Code requires that an operator be given the chance to change grievances.

Thus, the court suggested that the operator should present a new concept without coercive measures. The youth minister does not think this is viable. In her words, "a new concept would not change the fundamental deficits that have been identified. Munch’s decision puts the ball back in the court’s court. Haasenburg GmbH is suing in summary proceedings, claiming that the closure ordered in December was unlawful. If it wins, it could justify possible claims for damages.

Even after a decision by the OVG, the legal dispute can continue, because the actual main proceedings are still pending. Young people could then also be heard as witnesses. For former Haasenburg resident Christina Witt, the idea of the homes reopening is unbearable. She started an online petition, which more than 36,000 people supported by noon on Tuesday, and held a vigil in front of the Brandenburg State Chancellery.

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