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Anita Grandke, "Does the Working Woman Destroy her Family?" (June 11, 1960)

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Focused on the Highest Goal

Two female readers wrote in their letters that the placement of children into kindergartens and the like turned the children into mass-produced humans, led to massification, and thus to the destruction of the family. These two readers have unconsciously absorbed a view that our opponents have been harping on decades.

You see, dear readers: the opponents of socialism are well aware of the great role of the family in raising children to become socialists, especially in families where both spouses work. And so they wish to drive a wedge between this small, personal community and socialist society. And here, once again, they seize upon the work of the wife and mother outside the home.

The danger of destruction threatens our families exclusively from one side, namely from aggressive German militarism, which has destroyed these communities by the millions twice already. The dangers of massification threaten the children; young people are threatened by Prussian military drills, by brutalization through comics, gangster films, and so on, by the preparation of the youth for war. Indeed, in the capitalist states, as well, the youth is educated daily by society, but for what goals!

We speak openly of the education of children by society; we secure it materially and direct it toward the highest humanistic goal: the education of the socialist person. This is a person with great specialized knowledge, extensive general education, a person who develops in accordance with his proclivities and abilities, and whose behavior is shaped by his respect for people and his sense of responsibility toward society.

A Meaningful Complement

But let us ask the honest question now: can the mother – leaving aside the school – achieve this goal alone, without any further communal education? In my view, she cannot, no matter how much she would like to. How much time does she spend shopping, cooking, doing dishes, cleaning? How different are the degrees of receptivity and the ways of playing and learning among siblings of varying ages? Or how difficult is it already for many parents to keep up with their children’s homework in a serious way?

Moreover, the material preconditions for the development of the children’s abilities do not exist in most families. One thinks only of the many experts, the sports equipment, musical instruments, and so on that are available, for example, to the Young Pioneers – these things that are fully utilized only by the community and can be used by every child. In bourgeois society, it is still the privilege of the sons and daughters of the bourgeoisie to educate themselves, while at the same time thousands of talents wither away for lack of money. As mothers, we should be happy about the unlimited developmental possibilities for our children and not give ourselves over to worry. A person who embraces all art and science, all spiritual values of humanity and is able to develop his own abilities will not develop into a mass-produced person, but into a respected individual.

Our goal is in no way to replace or displace the family education through society’s education. Our children need both. They develop to the degree to which society’s education and family education work together consciously and with the same goal, while the parents are above all exemplars and confidants for them.

And if some female readers maintain that family education still has shortcomings here and there, and if we note that in our childrens’ facilities things are not always at their best, this reflects the current level of development, which we must quickly transcend. We can do this, among other things, precisely by having more and more wives put their abilities to use for society. Through the work of our hands, the children can be better cared for, our life will be made more beautiful and easier, and we will gain even more free time in the future, which we will devote also to our children.

Source: Anita Grandke, “Zerstört die berufstätige Frau ihre Familie?” [“Does the Working Woman Destroy her Family?”], Neues Deutschland, June 11, 1960, Supplement “Für die Frau” [“For the Woman”]; reprinted in Dierk Hoffmann and Michael Schwartz, eds., Geschichte der Sozialpolitik in Deutschland seit 1945. Bd. 8: 1949-1961: Deutsche Demokratische Republik. Im Zeichen des Aufbaus des Sozialismus [History of Social Policy in Germany since 1945, Vol. 8: 1949-1961: German Democratic Republic. Under the Sign of the Build Up of Socialism]. Baden-Baden: Nomos, 2004, no. 8/212.

Translation: Thomas Dunlap

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