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since June 19, 2001


Germany devours its children — Excerpt 4

from the part on the social value of families

An excerpt from:

Germany devours its children — Families today: Exploited and burned out, by Karin Jäckel

(German Title: Deutschland frisst seine Kinder — Familien heute: Ausgebeuted – ausgebrannt, Karin Jäckel, September 2000, Rowohlt Taschenbuch Verlag GmbH, Reinbek bei Hamburg, ISBN 3-499-60929-0)

Of the social value of families


. . . .

When the State exercizes the education monopoly: An example

The protectors of women time and again praise to 'Wessi' (Westie) women the wonderfully complete world of the 'Ossi' (Eastie) women, ever since the end of the GDR, whose all-encompassing children-crèche system secured full-time earning potential and thereby the personal freedom of mothers.

What a full-day program for the children of fully-employed looks like has been thoroughly experienced by the mothers of the former GDR. Marlene, herself a crèche-child and subsequently an educator for child-educatoresses from Potsdam, told it to me.

When I was still a baby being nursed, my parents gave me to a crèche. The educatoresses told my mother that it would be better for me if she were to leave me for the whole week in the crèche and were to pick me up only on the weekend. My mother was fairly young at the time. I was and remained her only child. She had no idea of child-raising and wasn't even done yet with her medical studies. Naturally, she was happy to get rid of me.

The people in the West always hear only that it was generally no problem in the East to raise a child born out of wedlock, and that heaven knows how many illegitimate children there were. But that isn't quite right. With an illegitimate child you were in the GDR quite badly off, too. Indeed, you had the crèches and weren't unemployed. But the people still looked askance at you when you had a child and no father for it. I experienced that in my own person, later, when I had an illegitimate child of my own. My mother didn't want to put up with the stress and preferred to marry my father.


The family as milch-cow of the solidarity-community

Firstly, because they could finally get an apartment of their own and didn't have to live with their parents anymore. Still, the apartment was small, because with only one child they weren't entitled to a multi-room apartment, but it was better than nothing.

At that time I was until after my second birthday in the crèche and sometimes, when my parents wanted to do something different, over the weekend too. I have few memories of those years and know only what I was told later. I must have been a fairly demanding child, and apparently cried a lot. Somewhere along the line I got rickets and was so far back in development that the leader of the crèche told my parents that they had to transfer me from the all-week crèche to the normal daycare crèche. My parents did that, while they were gnashing their teeth.

Because my mother worked as a doctor in a clinic, she didn't have regular working hours and wasn't able to look after me well. Actually, she didn't have a great desire to do that anyway, because her work gave her more. Mostly it was my father, who worked in construction and had more time than she, who brought me to the crèche and picked me up again. In the evenings or on weekends I was often with my grandmother, who was at that time already widowed and wasn't on the job anymore. Somehow I always had the feeling that she was my mother, because I was never able to construct a good relationship with my mother.

When I came into the age where I had to begin my education for my career, I had actually wanted to become a teacher. But that didn't work out, and therefore I went to the crèche and worked in addition in evening classes on my high-school diploma, so that I would be able to be employed as a lecturer for educatoresses. 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, all that was done was to hand out the soother, and that was it. One had to get done with the work. There was nothing with individual attention. After all, that wasn't our duty.

We had to care that the children didn't wet themselves and stayed clean, because the parents were entitled to children that we had to turn into orderly little citizens. When the parents came and the children still piddled into their pants, Hell broke lose. It was possible that parents didn't even want the little ones and waited with their arrival at the crèche until as long as possible

Of the social value of families


after closing hours, so that we had to wait for them before we could go home.

Most of the parents, too, brought their sick children back to the crèche, in spite of high fever, because it was our duty to care for the children. Because the parents hardly ever had the children in their lives, they actually knew nothing about them and how one had to handle little ones or to care for them when they lacked something. When children entered school, we had therefore time and again parents who told us that they were wondering how we had managed to get along for so long with their brats; they couldn't get along with them. But then, after all, there was the afternoon-care, so that during school, too, the children were out of the house and off the streets.

Then, too, we had those parents who Fridays or before a holiday simply didn't [come] to the kindergarten to pick their children up. They had something better in mind or simply no desire. They especially didn't come when the really small ones were sick. In that case the parents were simply afraid that they couldn't manage or had no desire to mess up their nice weekend. One could in vain ring their door bell or knock on their door. They simply didn't answer and pretended they weren't home. Then it was often that the children had to go to a children's home or to the hospital, until the parents came around once more.

When I got a child of my own I swore to myself that I would never give it into a crèche. That was absolutely unusual in the GDR. But I insisted on that and had to accept that with every examination at a well-child clinic the children's doctor and the children's nurse tormented me extensively. There were the most exact rules that were also 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. Then one had to run the gauntlet every time. And I was naturally afraid that one would take the child from me if I weren't a perfect mother. After all, the child was indeed the property of the GDR and under the protection of the People's Party. In comparison to that, a mother was nothing more than dog turds.

The same running of the gauntlet started when I brought my child to the kindergarten.

The family as milch-cow of the solidarity-community


First of all, the woman who was the kindergarten supervisor and knew me from before gave me a long lecture, that with respect to the interests of the Party I had acted irresponsibly and that presumably my child was underdeveloped and unable to either speak or go potty. But the opposite was the case. And that, in turn, was then wrong, too. My child didn't want to sit with the others on the potty and, if it was then forced to do that, refused to piddle. Therefore it had to remain seated until it could produce the end-product. Therefore, I had then a child at home that once more filled its pants and got belly aches and cried to the point of despair if it merely saw the toilet. Over and above that, my child could talk so much and ask so many questions that the educatoresses were quickly fed up with it. That's when my child had to stand in the corner and got something with the switch over its fingers. Yes, and then my child couldn't stand other children's crying. It showed then too much compassion. And that bothered the educatoresses, too. That's because they 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. My child was totally different. And that irritated.

For a few years now, I'm working in a Kindergarten in the West. In the beginning I could hardly comprehend it how the children are so different and how close their relationship to their parents is. How relaxed and self-assured they are together. That's where one truly notices that they know one another and belong to one another on an inner level, not only — yes, how can I say that -- not only because a specific child belongs to a specific woman who takes it along. Something like that, such trust, that I had never seen before. Somehow, our children didn't have that. Even though they loved their parents, too, and, naturally, the parents also their children. However, it was always somehow more cold or reserved. More strange, actually.

And we as parents were never that self-confident with respect to the educatoresses. What those said, that had a totally different impact. Too, one had to consider that one could have his children taken away, when one as parent didn't function as prescribed by the rules. Naturally, we were being spied on, too. After all, the educatoresses questioned the children about us parents and inquired even with neighbours and friends. And in between they came



to the house, to see what the domestic setting is like and whether it measures up to what the State demands for the healthy development of its young citizens. They kept a file in which all of that information was collected, and they discussed it in the group, so that the best-possible educational strategies could be developed for each child. And when everything was not in order, then it could be that one had to pronounce a recommendation that the child be put into a home, where it would be able to have better people to relate to than its own parents and could be educated more correctly. With such a fist at one's neck, one was naturally not so bold and rather kept oneself covered and followed the directions that one received for the evening or the weekend. Once I received the instruction for my child that I wasn't to read it a good-night story, because it had once more not piddled into the potty when they were all to do that. Yes, that evening we both cried our hearts out in bed, but I didn't read anything. After all, I knew that it would be discovered on Monday if I would have read something. Better not to annoy anyone.

Back to main page of Germany Devours its Children

About Karin Jäckel

My note: It is amazing how much that anecdote reminds me of the story told by John Wyndham in "Consider Her Ways." — WHS

See also: US Senate Bill S.1 & the War against Families

Posted 2001 06 20
2007 12 15 (reformated)