Health, Hygiene and Eugenics in Southeastern Europe to 1945

Health, Hygiene and Eugenics in Southeastern Europe to 1945

Christian Promitzer
Sevasti Trubeta
Marius Turda
Copyright Date: 2011
Edition: NED - New edition, 1
Pages: 475
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.7829/j.ctt1282mx
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  • Book Info
    Health, Hygiene and Eugenics in Southeastern Europe to 1945
    Book Description:

    This volume is a collection of chapters that deal with issues of health, hygiene and eugenics in Southeastern Europe to 1945, specifically, in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Greece and Romania. Its major concern is to examine the transfer of medical ideas to society via local, national and international agencies and to show in how far developments in public health, preventive medicine, social hygiene, welfare, gender relations and eugenics followed a regional pattern. This volume provides insights into a region that has to date been marginal to scholarship of the social history of medicine.

    eISBN: 978-963-9776-88-3
    Subjects: Health Sciences

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. INTRODUCTION FRAMING ISSUES OF HEALTH, HYGIENE AND EUGENICS IN SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE
    (pp. 1-24)
    Christian Promitzer, Sevasti Trubeta and Marius Turda

    In a programmatic text on “Health Politics” penned immediately after the end of the First World War, the pioneer of social medicine in interwar Yugoslavia, Andrija Štampar (1888—1958), identified the emergence of a “national and social renaissance,” which he insisted was “at the same time a health renaissance.”¹ Guided by this vision, this volume engages with developments in the history of health, hygiene and eugenics in Southeastern Europe and the national contexts within which these developments took place. The geographic scope of what is usually understood as Southeastern Europe (Albania, Bulgaria, Greece, the former Yugoslavia and Romania) inevitably carries...

  5. PART I: GERMAN EUGENIC PAraDIGMS

    • RACIAL EXPERTISE AND GERMAN EUGENIC STRATEGIES FOR SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE
      (pp. 27-54)
      Paul Weindling

      Until the 1980s eugenics was seen as historically marginal to mainstream German history. Race and reproduction were absent from discussions about the social consequences of Germany’s rapid industrialization and its disturbed international relations. Since then, eugenics and racial hygiene have moved from being interpreted as only a facet of right-wing, völkisch extremism to being identified as central to twentieth century German history. Issues concerned with population policy, health and welfare policies, as well as the role of science and the professions emerged as part of a new wave of gender and social history. All these contentious topics arose in Germany’s...

  6. PART II: HYGIENE AND HEALTH POLITICS

    • ORIENTALIZING DISEASE AUSTRO-HUNGARIAN POLICIES OF ‘RACE’, GENDER, AND HYGIENE IN BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA, 1874–1914
      (pp. 57-86)
      Brigitte Fuchs

      The Austro-Hungarian cavalry captain Alexander Spaits remarked in his 1907 book on the history of Bosnia and Herzegovina that, as compared to Croatians and Serbs, Bosnians had proven themselves spineless, since the middle ages its elites had been induced to convert to Islam. As Spaits explained it, only those lacking sufficient financial means remained with the discordant Christian churches.¹ Bosnia’s population in 1910 numbered approximately 1.5 million people (consisting of approximately 35% Muslims, 33% Serbian Orthodox and 20% Roman Catholics)² and was defined by Spaits as a homogenous “Slav nation,” despite the fact that it was split into competing national...

    • TYPHUS, TURKS, AND ROMA: HYGIENE AND ETHNIC DIFFERENCE IN BULGARIA, 1912–1944
      (pp. 87-126)
      Christian Promitzer

      In the spring of 1928, a local typhus epidemic broke out in Sofia—two people, among them a fiscal officer, died. At that time, typhus was one of the most dangerous infectious diseases, feared for its high mortality rate, with doctors putting their lives at risk in suppressing such epidemics. The appearance of this lethal disease (in the capital city of Bulgaria and, furthermore, among the urban middle class) was a matter for discussion for the Bulgarian parliament, which agreed unanimously on the issue. Iliya Yanulov (1880–1962), professor of jurisprudence and deputy of the Social Democrat party, used the...

    • HEALTH POLICY AND PRIVATE CARE: MALARIA SANITIZATION IN EARLY TWENTIETH CENTURY GREECE
      (pp. 127-142)
      Katerina Gardikas

      “Alongside tuberculosis, alcoholism and syphilis, many believe malaria to be one of the four wheels of the vehicle precipitating man towards degeneration.”¹ Thus spoke Spyridon Livieratos, professor of medicine at the University of Athens, at a 1914 conference in Athens held to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the accession of the Ionian Islands to Greece. In this political context, Livieratos’s statement also suggests a serious concern for the biological future of the Greek nation. Furthermore, in its language of decay, this metaphor vividly illustrates the fear of a looming, yet preventable, breakdown in public health.

      I shall here focus on...

    • COMBATING INFANT MORTALITY IN BULGARIA: WELFARE ACTIVITIES, NATIONAL PROPAGANDA, AND THE ESTABLISHMENT OF PEDIATRICS,1900–1940
      (pp. 143-164)
      Kristina Popova

      At the beginning of the twentieth century, infant mortality made its first appearance as a medical and social problem in Bulgarian medical periodicals. These tentative publications were not based upon systematic research but instead were isolated attempts to place this problem in a Bulgarian context, in order to compare the Bulgarian situation to that of other countries where infant mortality had been a research topic for much longer. The authors of these early publications pointed to the unavailability of data concerning infant mortality.¹ Although statistical data had been collected since 1881, the validity of such information was highly questionable. At...

    • POLITICS, MODERNIZATION AND PUBLIC HEALTH IN GREECE: THE CASE OF OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH 1900–1940
      (pp. 165-192)
      Leda Papastefanaki

      The process of modernization undertaken by Greece in the early twentieth century, mainly by liberal governments, was prompted by fundamental transformations in economic and social life. At the time, these were perceived chiefly as “Europeanization” and concerned urban planning and education, the re-organization of public health and labor policy. In the field of social policy, attempts to pass legislation on public health and the creation of public health institutions were one pole of the modernization of the Greek state. The specific undertaking to re-organize public health on the basis of a rational treatment of people was linked with the gradual...

    • “LIKE YEAST IN FERMENTATION”: PUBLIC HEALTH IN INTERWAR YUGOSLAVIA
      (pp. 193-232)
      Željko Dugac

      To explore public health in interwar Yugoslavia means, first, to consider the enthusiasm of the group of experts headed by Dr. Andrija Štampar (1888–1958) and their resultant ideas and achievements. It is a story of the recruitment of collaborators to realize a radical idea that medicine should be accessible to all social strata—but also an account of the opposition they faced. Yet this tale about advancing a novel idea, of the conflict of interests and power, of progress and the reasons why it was hindered, is neither new nor entirely original. The rise of the young discipline of...

  7. PART III: EUGENICS AND REPRODUCTION

    • MARITAL HEALTH AND EUGENICS IN BULGARIA 1878–1940
      (pp. 235-270)
      Gergana Mircheva

      “Crisis” might be the best word to describe the cultural situation in Bulgaria between the two World Wars. Experienced as a collective identity crisis questioning peacetime values of social, economic and political discourses, it was conceptualized mainly in nationalistic terms. However, in interwar cultural reflections the negativity of economic and social decay was treated as an incentive for recovery and creative identity reinforcement. Public visions of a wholesome national regeneration were formulated in utopian constructions “populated” with organic images of Volk and State. In the 1920s and especially the 1930s, eugenic ideas gathered strength in Bulgaria, based on the widely...

    • EUGENIC BIRTH CONTROL AND PRENUPTIAL HEALTH CERTIFICATION IN INTERWAR GREECE
      (pp. 271-298)
      Sevasti Trubeta

      A world in which maternity is obsolete, with children not born but bred by technical means, is a fiction best described in Aldous Huxley’s (1894–1963) utopian novel Brave New World. In Huxley’s vision, reproduction is a simple act of engineering in an institutionalized, totalitarian system. Children are predestined to be the bearers of certain biological and social qualities. Immediately after “birth,” children are “educated” (manipulated by brainwashing) to adhere to society’s main aim: that the community be perpetuated.

      Despite the fictive and exaggerated character in Huxley’s totalitarian dystopia, his basic idea was nevertheless drawn from reality. Neither the concept...

    • EUGENICS AND PUERICULTURE: MEDICAL ATTEMPTS TO IMPROVE THE BIOLOGICAL CAPITAL IN INTERWAR GREECE
      (pp. 299-324)
      Vassiliki Theodorou and Despina Karakatsani

      In Greece the first public debates on the necessity of adopting eugenic measures for ‘racial improvement’ can be traced back to the 1910s.¹ Nevertheless, ideas about how to educate the public on matters of eugenics and the possible imposition of eugenic measures intensified in the mid-1920s, when the issue of improving the health of the population was raised more broadly. The Ministry of Hygiene and Social Welfare² was established in 1923 while attempts were being undertaken to improve conditions for childbearing. Eminent physicians with backgrounds in public health, jurists, academics, governmental functionaries, public health offi-cers and intellectuals all participated in...

    • CONTROLLING THE NATIONAL BODY: IDEAS OF RACIAL PURIFICATION IN ROMANIA, 1918–1944
      (pp. 325-350)
      Marius Turda

      In an oft-quoted lecture delivered at the Collège de France in 1976, Michel Foucault situated biopolitics at the intersection of knowledge and power, one which emerged in the second half of the eighteenth century. Biopolitics, Foucault argued, was a modern discipline trying “to rule a multiplicity of men to the extent that their multiplicity can and must be dissolved into individual bodies that can be kept under surveillance, trained, used, and, if need be, punished.”¹ Since then, scholars in numerous disciplines have employed Foucault’s innovative theory on “biopolitics of the human race”² to explain socio-political phenomenon as diverse as Nazism,...

    • THE EUGENIC FORTRESS: ALFRED CSALLNER AND THE SAXON EUGENIC DISCOURSE IN INTERWAR ROMANIA
      (pp. 351-384)
      Tudor Georgescu

      Current historiography has largely neglected the Transylvanian Saxon eugenic discourse as it emerged and evolved in early twentieth century Romania.¹ It is a somewhat surprising omission given the substantial influence eugenic population policies came to exert over this ethnic minority’s socio-political life in interwar Romania. While this exploration of Saxon eugenics will chart Alfred Csallner’s (1895–1992) particular influence in the 1920s and his agenda’s gradual institutionalization in the 1930s, the Saxon experiment with eugenics in the service of national renewal, towards engineering a biologically purged and ethnically exclusive “eugenic fortress,” is in dire need of further study. Despite the...

    • FIGHTING THE WHITE PLAGUE: DEMOGRAPHY AND ABORTION IN THE INDEPENDENT STATE OF CROATIA
      (pp. 385-426)
      Rory Yeomans

      When Josip Blažek, student commissar and Ustasha death squad member, fell in battle fighting against the Partisans in 1943, he was declared a martyr. In the days afterwards, the obituaries that followed noted his fanaticism, his devout Catholicism, his loyalty until death both for the fascist Ustasha Movement and his comrades, as well as his love for the newly-created Independent State of Croatia. Student leaders declared eight days of mourning. Many obituaries recalled Blažek’s student activism in the dying days of the Yugoslav state, especially his concern for the social welfare and hygiene of his fellow students. As the young...

  8. PART IV: NEW RESEARCH AGENDAS

    • REMAPPING THE HISTORIOGRAPHY OF MODERNIZATION AND STATE-BUILDING IN SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE THROUGH HEALTH, HYGIENE AND EUGENICS
      (pp. 429-446)
      Maria Bucur

      The historiography of Southeastern Europe in the modern period is ripe for reconsidering the paradigm of nation–building from increasingly nuanced and challenging vantage points. No longer are historians satisfied to read the personal papers of the “great men” of letters and politics or to look at legislative changes and diplomatic documents.¹ From scholars interested in the modernization of the military to those looking at socio-political change on the ground, historians are developing richer analyses of the transformation of the Balkans from a relatively vapid (or, by contrast, wildly mythologized) area on the map of modern Europe into a vibrant...

  9. CONTRIBUTORS
    (pp. 447-450)
  10. INDEX
    (pp. 451-466)