"If you build palaces for children you tear down prison walls" - Commemoration and Reflection

This motto which was conceived and propagated by Julius Tandler became the central principle to guide the social welfare and health care policy of "Red Vienna". It related to kindergartens, day care and after school care centres, recreation homes for children as well as the institutions for preventive health and the youth welfare services. What had been a privilege before the war for children of affluent parents now became common property. Abject poverty and the dreadful misery of the inter-war period greatly increased the need for action.

Fighting severe illnesses

A particularly harsh legacy of the "good old times" proved to be two illnesses - pulmonary tuberculosis or "consumption" and bone tuberculosis, also known as "rickets". Both illnesses needed to be fought from as early on as possible which meant treatment had to concentrate primarily on children and youngsters. The overall causes of both afflictions were lack of daylight, air and sun (important for bone formation) and severe malnutrition. These factors were additionally aggravated by child labour. The fight against these and other illnesses was based on wide-ranging medical examinations carried out in kindergartens and schools and on the establishment of central sanatoriums and preventive health care centres such as the mother advice clinics.

Daylight, air and sun - today a matter of course

Today, when we go to an outdoor swimming pool, it is mostly for pleasure and fun. It would hardly cross anyone's mind that daylight, air and sun are vital for our well-being. Yet, our physical health depends significantly on being outdoors and going swimming. This was recognised by the municipality of "Red Vienna" and became part of the city's welfare policy leading to the construction of additional municipal outdoor swimming pools. Among the first to be built in the First Republic were Ottakringer Bad, Kongressbad or Krapfenwaldlbad.

Of particular importance in the context of health care provision were the so-called Kinderfreibäder (outdoor swimming pools open to all children) established in many districts of Vienna where children and teenagers were provided free of charge with what they so urgently needed: daylight, air and sun. More than 20 such swimming pools were built, many of which still exist as "family swimming pools". Under this aspect the workers' song "Brüder zur Sonne zur Freiheit" (Brothers to the sun to freedom) was given yet another meaning.

Kindergartens as "gardens for children"

Already during World War I, the municipality of Vienna recognised the need for so-called "people's kindergartens". They should be open for "all" and provide full-time care for children. In a short period of time the administration of "Red Vienna" increased the number of kindergartens from 23 to 55. Day care for children included a mid-morning snack, lunch and an afternoon snack and many of these centres were provided with large gardens and play grounds. Another important achievement of the period was the introduction of comprehensive medical examinations carried out at the kindergartens in order to safeguard and improve the children's health.

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Public Relations (Municipal Department 53)
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