Alexandra Kollontai, January 1919

Decree: Child Welfare

Source: "The Immorality of the Bolsheviki" (unsigned article) in The Revolutionary Age, February 22, 1919;
Transcribed: Sally Ryan for, 2001.

Two million young lives were yearly dwindling in Russia because of the darkness of the oppressed people, because of apathy of the class state. Two million suffering mothers were saturating yearly the Russian earth with tears and were covering with their blistered hands the early graves of the innocent victims of the hideous social order. The human thought, which had for centuries sought a path, has at last reached the bright epoch of workers' reforms, which will safeguard the mother for the child and the child for the mother. Bright samples capitalist moral – homes for orphans filled above their capacity, having a colossal mortality rate and a hideous form of nursing the infants, which form was an insult to the sacred feelings of a helpless laboring mother and which made the mother-citizen a dull nursing animal – all these horrors of a nightmare have fortunately, sunk in the dark mist of the past since the victory of the workers and the peasants. A morning, bright and pure for the children themselves has come.

You, working women, laboring mother-citizens, with your responsive hearts, – you brave builders of the new social life, – you ideal pedagogues, children's physicians and nurses, – all of you are called by the new Soviet Russia to contribute your minds and feelings to the building of the great structure of social welfare of the future generations. All the small and large institutions of the Commissariat of Social Welfare which serve the children, – all of them from the day of publication of this decree, mould into one state organization and are transformed to the supervision of the Department for safeguarded mothers and children, so as to create an inseparable chain together with the Institutions for the care of pregnant women, for the purpose of bringing up mentally and physically strong citizens. The Petrograd Home with all the auxillary branches, becomes part of the "Palace for Safeguarding Motherhood and Infancy", as one of its departments and is named "The Palace of Infancy". The Moscow Home becomes part of the Moscow Institute of Motherhood and is named "The Moscow Institute of Infancy".

For the purpose of precipitating the realization of the necessary reforms for the safeguarding childhood in Russia, at the Department for Safeguarding Motherhood and Infancy a Committee is being organized. It is to be composed of representatives of the Soviet of Workers' Soldiers' and Peasants' Deputies, of Workers' organizations and of specialists, interested in the question of social welfare of the infants. The following principles are to be the Committee's guiding principles:

1. Safeguarding the mother for the child: the best drop of milk for the child – is the milk from its mother's breast.

2. Bring up the child in an atmosphere of a widely developed Socialist family.

3 To create for the child conditions, which would lay a foundation for the development of its physical and mental strength and for, bright understanding of life.

People's Commissaire: A Kollontay.
Member of the Collegium, supervising the Department for Safeguarding Motherhood and Infancy: N. Korcleff.
Sect'y: Zvetkoff.
January 31, 1918.