What was it like growing up in
the Soviet Bloc?
Marlene, a survivor of daycare in the communist
former German Democratic Republic (GDR, or East Germany) tells of her
experience working as an "educatoress" in the crèche*:
that time I truly experienced once more my own childhood in the crèche,
pure and straight.
That drill !
All the children lined up in
a row to be fed or to be on the potty. Whether one was hungry or
not, whether it had to go or not, whether one or ten were crying...
One had to get done with the work. There was nothing with
individual attention. After all, that wasn't our duty."
"There were the most exact rules that were...applicable in the crèche
education, until when one could breast-feed a child or bottle-feed it,
and when that had to come to an end, how much a child had to be fed and
when one had to give it solid food. When one of them was hungry or
cried, one wouldn't dare to give it enough until it was sated. And
woe when the child was found at the examination to weigh a little more
or less than the average or the teeth didn't come at the right time...
After all, the child was indeed the property of the GDR and under the
protection of the People's Party.
"...educatoresses...had to deal all day long with children who were so
indifferent and apathetic that they played self-centeredly with anything
or were so filled with aggression that they quarreled and pulled each
*From an English translation of Germany Devours
its Children, by Karin Jäckel, Sept 2000, quoted by Fathers For
who spent most
of her childhood in communist Poland's daycares relates her
"My childhood was
spent exclusively in those institutions so coveted and so advocated
today in the USA – in state subsidized childcare centers. From ten
months, at which age crèche care started, until seven, when one went to
school and did not need child care any more, every day I was taken to
the day nursery of some sort. I think about that experience with dislike
bordering on hatred. Wake up time before 5 AM, summer or winter, so that
parents have time to drop us off and still get to work, which could be
quite far away..."
"The assembly line time table, with everyone having to perform together
on cue, from going to the toilet, to falling asleep during the nap time.
The grubby, institutional food. The absence of real contact with adults,
which meant that fights and squabbles were usually settled on the
survival of the fittest principle. Inquisitive questions were seen as
disruption of schedule. Impossibility of choosing what and with whom to
"Even so, I was lucky. Some children whose mothers had even more
demanding duties were put into a weekly care centers, which released the
inmates only on Saturday afternoons..."
"The situation in which there is no functioning family unit is, from a
communist viewpoint, very much to be desired. Producing an obedient, non
critical, passive population is easier when the state may bring up the
children in the collective mode from the earliest age. A childcare
centre is a more cohesive introduction to lifetime of work at the
industrial assembly line than is an individualistic, self-reliant unit
like the family."
**From ladiesagainstfeminism.com 18 March 2004
- In Communist Romania, dictator
Nicolae Ceausescu put children in state-run child factories designed to
produce compliant subjects for the Romanian military. No
consideration was ever given to the developmental needs of the children.
Studies showed that the orphans sometimes lying quietly and unattended
for 18 to 20 hours a day, were severely socially, emotionally and