There’s been some nitpicking at The Standard about Kim Dotcom’s childhood schooling – with implications that attending a boarding school in a castle doesn’t detract from an ‘impoverished’ childhood.
At the Mana conference Dotcom spoke:
“My mother had to work three jobs to feed us. I would go to bed hungry, often, and I would eat toast with sugar, and I would eat toast with ketchup”.
That may refer to earlier in his childhood – family circumstances can change, and at some stage Dotcom’s parents divorced.
Die Welt on Kim Schmitz/Dotcom suggests that Dotcom’s childhood wasn’t all hardship.
He is reported as getting his first computer when he was nine (in 1983 computers weren’t cheap) and at twelve he ran ten phone lines out of his bedroom.
Die Velt said “Kim wurde auf das Plöner Schlossinternat geschickt” – he was sent to the boarding school at Plön Castle.
Staatliche Internat Schloss Plön – a state boarding school, as the links show it’s not an ordinary city or town high school, it was a boarding school located at an historic castle.
A German source has described an Internat as a “special school for special children”.
In Germany children started school at six in Hauptschule. The most academic children were moved to a Gymnasium (like Internat Schloss Plön) usually at nine years old until eighteen.
In 1969 Der Spiegel said it cost 300 marks per month to attend Internat Schloss Plön. If Dotcom attended it would have been in the eighties. It’s possible he could have had a scholarship.
Court documents from his first arrest in 1994 confirm he attended Internat Schloss Plön from second year (usually 10 years old), he advanced a year and graduated at 17 with a better than normal diploma. It sounds like he was a smart child.
It wasn’t an ordinary school for average or impoverished German kids.
The translation described the school as ‘posh’ – Die Velt wrote “Kim wurde auf das Plöner Schlossinternat geschickt”. That doesn’t say “posh”. The translator may have assumed posh because Schlossinternat implies a flasher then normal school, a boarding school in a castle.
After he left school he lived in an apartment and was given an allowance of 1200 marks per month by his mother who was now with a stepfather. That’s a substantial allowance. He wouldn’t live with his father due to alcohol problems.
Die Velt also says Dotcom got his first computer when he was 9. That was 1983, even basic computers weren’t cheap then, a ZX81 was about $300 in New Zealand but to expand from a paltry 1 kb of RAM to 16 kb cost about another $200.
Die velt says “Three years later, well before the World Wide Web was available to everyone, Schmitz used 12 telephone lines to hack into other computers” – Dotcom would have been 12 then, obviously with some resources.
This barely scratches the surface of Dotcom’s childhood, but it doesn’t sound like an average Mana family lifestyle.