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The roots of the Roeper Philosophy go back to Annemarie Roeper’s parents, Max and Gertrud Bondy, founders of a boarding school in Germany called Marienau that was centered philosophically and psychologically around the idea of community. Max, an art historian, and Gertrud, a psychoanalyst trained by Sigmund Freud, were uniquely qualified to help their students learn to understand themselves and to understand their impact on the world around them. George Roeper met Annemarie when he became one of the Bondys’ early students.
After Hitler came to power in 1933, the Bondys, who were Jewish, were forced to sell their school and were at risk themselves. George helped them escape from Germany, and the family went first to Switzerland and then made its way to the United States in 1939. The Bondys opened a school in Vermont called Windsor Mountain School, and George and Annemarie came to Detroit to found their own school. After these experiences, both generations of educators were even more passionate about teaching children how to understand themselves and to nurture their appreciation for democracy, tolerance and non-violence.
The two videos below are from a film about the Bondys and the Roepers called “Across Time and Space,” directed by Kathryn Golden and released in 2002. In “European Roots,” Annemarie describes the devastating effect of Nazism on her family. “The Roeper Philosophy” describes the Roepers’ educational approach in their Michigan school. It features interviews with Annemarie; the Roepers’ sons, Tom and Peter; the late Bernie Cohen, who was a student at the school in the 1940s and then returned to teach; and other longtime community members.
The Story of George and Annemarie