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Daycare in the evil empire
of the former
Soviet Union (Cont.)

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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*:

"During 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 other's hair."

*From an English translation of Germany Devours its Children, by Karin Jäckel, Sept 2000, quoted by Fathers For Life,

  • Marzena, who spent most of her childhood in communist Poland's daycares relates her experience**:

"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 play..."

"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 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 developmentally delayed.

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Continued on the next page

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Last updated:  02/20/2005

History of Daycare- Background | History of Daycare - Overview | Overview - cont. | Precursors to modern Daycare | Precursors - pg 2
Daycare in the former Soviet Union  | Soviet Union - pg 2 | Daycare in the early Zionist kibbutzim | Daycare during the Great Depression |
Daycare during WWII | Daycare during WWII - cont. Daycare after WWII to the 1960's  | Daycare after WWII - cont. | Daycare today  

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