Children of the DDR in the ’70s
The video and article below concern the daycare system that was used in the German Democratic Republic (DDR, commonly known as East Germany) until the fall of the Wall.
Note: When I was editing the text, I had a lot of trouble picking out a phrase (adjusted from the translation) to render the all-week overnight daycare that was standard practice in the DDR. The Germans have a phrase for it, but we don’t have an equivalent, as far as I know. So the phrase I coined — “weeklong daycare” — was simply the best expedient I could think of.
Nash Montana, who translated the material, includes this explanatory note about German TV programming:
German TV is keen on reenactments of dramatic scenes, so every scene in this video is reenacted. It’s not real, but just for dramatic effect.
On TV they re-enact entire court cases from family and criminal court. For instance, the “Judge Judy” equivalent on German TV has every case re-enacted — it’s really horrible, not just because of the bad acting but because it’s literally made for 3-year-old children. It’s the worst form of brainwashing I have ever seen, and it happens every day on German TV.
Many thanks to Vlad Tepes for the subtitling:
The accompanying article from Deutschlandfunk Kultur, also translated by Nash:
The weeklong daycare center kids of the DDR
By Lotta Wieden
Many children in the DDR spent their childhood in weeklong daycare centers, often with far-reaching consequences for their adult life. Research that indicated the negative aspects for the development of these children was suppressed in the DDR. Today, the affected children and new research are working out the consequences.
Most of the children are between 40 and 60 years old now. How many were there really? We will never know. To this day there is very little information about this topic. But it is generally believed that in the DDR territory in the years between 1949 to 1989 hundreds of thousands of babies and small children were given to these centers to be taken care of.
The DDR in the ‘50s affirmed that the construction of the socialist society had begun. The six-day work week was the rule, for mothers too. Article 7 of the still-young Constitution said: “Men and women have equal rights. All laws and decisions which are against women’s equal rights are hereby suspended.” But equal rights were only for women, and only at their place of work. And the question of who was going to care for their children was one that hit single mothers especially hard.
Until 1965 the DDR functioned under the six-day work week rule, even for mothers
Research under pressure
Within five years, so the Constitution said, the DDR had to establish 160,000 kindergarten seats, 40,000 daycare seats, and 60,000 care seats for babies and toddlers. As a consequence, the number of weeklong care centers alone for babies and toddlers rose from 2,500 in the year 1950 to about 14,300 in the year 1955. Ten years later in 1965, Statistics show 37,900 for weeklong care centers for children under the age of three. And the entire massive expansion was accompanied by an equally massive daily propaganda machine. Until the mid-’60s these toddler weeklong care centers were propagandized as equal, if not the better alternative, to familial care.
The mid-’50s the East Berlin Humboldt University began with the first scientific examination into the development of care center children of the DDR. The leading doctor is Eva Schmidt-Kolmer who later became the director of the Institute for the Hygiene of Children and Youths in Berlin. She had documented the development of more than 1,700 children between the ages of zero and three. The random sample group had 440 weeklong care center kids in it. It was examined how well children could orient themselves and move about in a room, and how far their speech and vocabulary and their social skills were developed. The results of that examination revealed grave deficits among the weeklong care center kids in all of the tested subjects.
Mommy as the stranger
Only a few years later such interpretations were almost completely removed from the DDR scientific literature. As well as [studies of] the various forms of institutionalization, which also disappeared: Small children staring blankly ahead, rocking their upper bodies back and forth, or turning their heads side to side in their little cribs — such things couldn’t be shown or written about anymore after the building of the Wall.
René Grünewald spent the first few years of his life in a weeklong care center. Just how deeply this time has marked the now 46-year-old is hard to say today. He doesn’t have any memory of it. But he does remember the day his time in the center suddenly ended: “I was at the weeklong care center for three and a half years, and I can remember the day when I was told that I didn’t have to go back there again. It was a day where I rode my tricycle all by myself in the back of a Berlin courtyard, in front of a garage. And in a loop I said to myself that that woman was my mommy, and that I was living there. That was a very unrealistic feeling, because the woman who had given birth to me and then took me to her apartment, to me she was a strange woman.”
Promises made to DDR society
Were DDR parents just especially heartless? Karsten Laudien, professor of the evangelical college Berlin, has done research about the history of the DDR and the way it raised its children. He is skeptical. He says one should not forget that the DDR made grand promises, especially for women: the promise to co-create and to co-determine, professional self-determination, and financial independence. Modern women who didn’t just want to just give up their place in society of course — unlike West Germans — went to work. And finally: Even the way children were looked upon had changed drastically. They morphed from being the object of parental control to the subject whose optimal developmental chances for many parents stood at the center of their existence. The rest was ideology.
[Photo of holding hands (not used), caption: Developmental/educational theory in the DDR was suppressed]
Up until the ‘80s developmental/educational theory in the DDR was suppressed, which primarily said that a child’s need for intense emotional closeness is inherent. And that without such closeness, a child can’t develop optimally. At least the direct propaganda for weeklong care centers in the DDR had drastically been reduced by the mid-’60s, but what remained was the ideal picture of full-time working parents and the double burden for women.
The pedagogue and lecturer Ute Stary begins from the premise that hundreds of thousands of children who were taken and raised in weeklong care centers today are between the ages of 40 and 60 years old. Even as a student she wanted to know: What consequences did the DDR care centers leave behind? It was a question that she had investigated in numerous individual one-on-one interviews:
“They tell of difficult relationships to their biological parents, that they experience that relationship as rather tense, this feeling that for the most part they are foreign to each other. And also they speak of difficulties in getting into and maintaining relationships, and most of all in meeting the needs of their own children.”
Competence advantage of the educators
Ute Stray had published the results of her investigation in a textbook. Further scientific research on the topic of weeklong care centers doesn’t exist at this point, unfortunately. It’s a shame, Ute says, because it would be helpful, especially now when the federal ministry heavily invests in these 24-hour Kitas (daycares) and in the so-called unusual hours of evenings and nights.
In 1968 a manual appeared in the DDR entitled “Pedogogical duties and practices of care centers”. The manual contained mandatory educational duties for each individual quarter-year of life for children. With its help the pedagogical program had been increasingly harmonized in child and weeklong care centers. Everywhere in the country the same daily plans were applied. The educators had “to exert influence” that sleeping and eating times were maintained even on weekends when children were at home. Special emphasis was put on an “imperative necessity” for a synchronized process between the care centers and the parental home. And so each month the educators were a step ahead in competence when dealing with their own children.
Says the researcher Lauen: “No generation believes that they do wrong. Everybody puts in great efforts. All humans believe and want to believe that what they are doing is the right thing to do. The question that always remains is, can you establish interesting thoughts: for instance, is it something that you would do today? And why would you do it today? And can one live with the fact that today we have a different yardstick — without judging others? Can we reconcile with that?”
An afterword from Nash Montana:
I have long maintained that day care centers even here in the United States are part and parcel of brainwashing children into a society that does not want individuality nor individual thought and feeling. I have seen with my own eyes the difference between children who were raised in daycare and those raised at home with their parents. My daughter is a home-raised child. She is empathetic and warm. She goes to a private school that teaches classical education, including Latin. She is miles ahead of her peers who go to public school, even though her IQ is not specifically higher than any regular child. She’s not a genius. She’s just raised NORMALLY.
I remember when I was growing up in Switzerland, we too had these weeklong daycare centers. Where parents dropped off their kid for the entire week, and they only got to come home on the weekends. It wasn’t because Switzerland was a socialist country like the DDR. It was because parents COULD.
I had friends in school who saw their parents only on the weekend. I always felt sad for them. I grew up as an adopted child. I know all about loss. I was four when I was ripped away from my mother’s arms into the foster-care system, and then later on I was adopted by my family, who were loving and took good care of me. I understood back then that my mother wasn’t able to raise me, and I never felt that the people who raised me weren’t the right people for me. They were. They did everything right, and I had a mom who stayed home while Dad worked. I had three brothers and a sister.
But I heavily doubted a system that so nonchalantly could decide that a woman is not able to raise her child, and therefore you take it away from her and put it into the foster-care system. My birth mother never was right in the head; I know that. The first four years of my life were marked by social depravity, and it was a hot mess. My bathroom was the balcony of our apartment, for instance. I have memories of using it for my potty place, like a puppy. I didn’t speak until after I was taken from her; all I did was bark. Every day my birth mother had people over and they did drugs and God only knows what. All I remember is a lot of naked people everywhere all the time in a tiny apartment.
Europe was a [sump] then, and it is a [sump] now. Socialism has made every country into a Socialist [sump], even if most countries didn’t operate under a Socialist regime like the DDR. I have a deep-seated hatred for anything even remotely Socialist. It’s why I want to punch college kids in the face when they tell me Socialism is the way. I want to punch them until they’re on the ground and then I want to stomp them into the ground. And for good measure, I want to run them over with my 3500 MEGA CAB DODGE DIESEL DUALLY.
But I digress…
Fast-forward to today. Well, first, look at these broken women in that short video clip. They all are unable to make and sustain meaningful connections. I mean, I’m sure they have children of their own now and they probably did a lot of things a lot more right than their parents could. Their parents had no choice; they were mere wheels in the Socialist machine called the DDR. But fast-forward now to today in Germany. How do you think Germany has let itself become the paradise for all the scum of the earth? People always ask me: why are Germans so dumb? Because they’re really not dumb; I mean, look at the cars they build, and what about German ingenuity and perfection?
I always only have one answer: Socialism. You can take the Socialism out of a country, but you can’t take the country out of Socialism. It stays with the people, like cancer. And like cancer, it could come back any day, as it will always be right there under the surface.
A few days ago I translated a video of man-in-the-street interviews and I noted in Gates of Vienna comments that the number one thing that stood out for me was how Germans said, “as long as those refugees don’t draw attention” or the famous “as long as they obey the law”. Those were the two number one concerns Germans have with newcomers. It’s not that these millions of Muslim invaders take away German culture and destroy everything good and decent. No. It’s that they shouldn’t draw attention. Just like children in olden days. They should be seen but not heard. Because that’s how they were raised, these Germans. That is exactly how we Europeans have been raised.
There is a reason so many people left for the promised land a long time ago, and ended up on Ellis Island. Europe was oppressive then, and it is oppressive now. It is one big continent filled with oppression and a constant soundtrack of “behave yourself”, “don’t draw attention”, “obey and follow”. It is the reason I left Switzerland. But the eye-opening reality only really hit me once I went back to Switzerland with my family, presumably to live there and give my daughter a good Swiss education, or what I thought was good education. Needless to say I had completely underestimated the transformation that my home country had made in the twenty years since I left.
When we arrived back in Switzerland in December of 2013, within two weeks I wanted to go home to Montana. So many examples. Like walking my Golden Retriever dog Joy on a trail, throwing her a ball, only to be yelled at by someone that this trail was only for walking not for playing! Riding my mom’s horse with a giant garbage bag because it is your duty to pick up horse apples. Never to use your car, even when it’s freezing cold out or blistering hot, when all you want to do is throw a letter in the box by the post office.
There are no drive-throughs because that’s American and we don’t want that. Wanting to get some variety for home shopping became a difficult task that involved driving a lot of miles from one town to the next because every store only has one brand and that’s it. And then you can’t just buy the TV or the washing machine that you dream of; no, you have to buy the one that is acceptable in the apartment you live in or that is acceptable in the local community.
The smallness of everything, including minds, is astonishing. But not so much when you realize: Feudalism. Socialism. Fascism. In that order. In everyone’s heads. Not just back in the DDR. These are constructs that are deeply engrained in the European soul.
I always said: it doesn’t matter once Obama steps down in the USA, because now everyone is Obama in the White House. And of course, I was right to a degree, though the great disruptor Trump has kind of put a stop to that. We’ve actually got a bit of a break until the next Democrat president, and then there will be hell to pay. But at least we have a CHOICE for now!
Now imagine every single European country. They don’t have these choices. This was all taken away from them a long time ago. They only think they have choices. Americans only think we have choices, too, but we actually still do have choices, such as the Second Amendment. Sure, it’s a joke; the Constitution has been shredded, yada yada, but I need to constantly remind my American brethren that the USA is INDEED NOT yet where Sweden is, or Germany, or France. We’re headed there, but NOT YET! We always still have that small glimmer of hope. The glimmer that has long been extinguished for Europeans in Europe. And under the Eye of Sauron, they are now watched and controlled in every step they take.
So the reason I translated this video, even though there is nothing in there about the refugee “crisis” in Germany, is precisely because it gives you answers as to WHY and WHAT is going on in Germany today, in a small way. I leave it up to your imagination as to how to interpret it all. This is just one tiny little glimpse into the European soul.
If you think this is just a glimpse into the German DDR soul, you’re wrong. And if you want to have a look into the future of what your kids and grandkids will face should there be a Democrat president after Trump, here it is.
But I’m sure won’t be so bad. After all, Socialism hasn’t really been tried yet the way it should. This time we’ll get it right. Right?