On July 8, 1944, the order of Mother-Heroine was instituted in the Soviet Union for women who had raised over ten children – the measure undertaken by the Soviet Government amid WWII to fight the plummeting birthrate.
Initially, however, the first award was planned for a woman belonging to the Communist Party, but after research had been done no female communist had been found with a record upbringing of ten children. Therefore, the first woman to receive the award was Anna Aleksakhina, a peasant living in a shack in one of the Moscow region villages. The number of her children totaled 12, while four of her sons died in the war.
Interestingly, to receive the award committee from Moscow, the local authorities had furnished and remodeled the house of the award-winning mother, taking it all away from her once the committee had left the building.
The reception of the order was all the more attractive since it was backed up by child support, a dowry for the newborns, and extra supplies of food.
The number of women who received this award in the period of its existence, from 1944 till 1991, was an estimated 500,000.
The 1930s and 1940s generally saw a surge in various measures of inducing the large family paradigm, many of them being ridiculous, and even harmful.
Another one-of-a-kind measure, proved moot, was the so-called sterility tax, introduced by Josef Stalin in 1941. Ridiculed by the world community, it was imposed on bachelors aged 20-50 and married women aged 20-45, requiring them to pay 6% of their salary to the state if they didn’t have children. The only other country where the same tax had ever been registered was Mongolia. The tax was only abolished in 1990s.
Very unpopular with people, who scornfully labeled it “balls tax”, it did very little to improve Russia’s population devastated by Hitler’s invasion in World War II, but it did nourish the country’s budget drained dry by the military expenditures. Such “fundraising” had become so convenient that the tax wasn’t abolished even when the war was over.
Another development of the Soviet authorities aimed at restoring family order was paternity tests and alimony payments. The serious procedures were turned by propaganda into ridiculous public spectacles. In the 1920s, paternity tests were a medical matter. In the 1930s, eye witness testaments were considered the ultimate truth. Newspapers published reports on the factory and plant employee meetings, where the father of any given child was detected by an open investigation, rendering any medical testing secondary or even unnecessary. It was customary for women to publish complaints in magazines about their cheating lying husbands for the latter to be publicly reprimanded.
Though public telling off of cheating husbands has become the thing of the past, the sterility tax threatens to come back, as Russia’s parliament is considering a proposal to reinstate it as part of a larger plan to encourage the birthrate. “If you don’t want to pay your dues to your Motherland, you have to pay for it,” one of the parliament officials threatened.
The tax is very unlikely to make its second advent, as it is very much repulsed by the majority of Russia’s population who see it as a violation of their private life, while analysts claim it would not affect Russia’s demographic crisis.