Berlin placed children under the care of paedophiles for years - report


German authorities in Berlin for 30 years routinely placed homeless children under the care of paedophile men, as part of the so-called Kentler Project, assuming they would make ideal foster parents, a study conducted by the University of Hildesheim has found.

Starting in the 1970s psychology professor and sexologist Helmut Kentler conducted his "experiment," under which homeless children in West Berlin were intentionally placed with paedophile men. Kentler argued that sexual contact between children and adults was not harmful.

According to the German daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ), the children's problems were seemingly solved by the Office for Children and Youth (Jugendamt), as they no longer lived on the street, did not end up in orphanages, and paedophiles would stop looking for new victims as it was tolerated that they could abuse children within their own homes.

The so-called foster homes were founded in the late 1960s and functioned until around 2003. They were based on Kentler's concept of "joint living of a child and a paedophile," and were approved by Berlin's Senate officials, as well as by, with a few exceptions, the District Jugendamts.

FAZ added that the Berlin Senate was persuaded by Kentler to run these projects, who claimed that paedophile care of minors "enables their social integration."

Kentler himself was in regular contact with the children and their foster fathers. He was never prosecuted: by the time his victims came forward, the statute of limitations for his actions had expired. This has also thus far prevented the victims from receiving any compensation.

FAZ wrote that for years youth offices ignored the signals of reported threats, and their employees even defended paedophiles looking after children. Also, local offices did not respond to letters from victims reporting abuses and child pornography.

The number of perpetrators and victims has not yet been determined. It is known that Fritz H. was one of them, and that at least ten children were in his care over a period of 12 years, including one with disabilities who died while under Fritz's care. Three of his victims later testified.

The activity of Kentler, who also worked as a police psychologist in the Berlin Senate, would not have been possible without the cooperation of the Berlin authorities, youth offices, but also educational and scientific institutions, FAZ wrote.