Blood and Homeland

Blood and Homeland: Eugenics and Racial Nationalism in Central and Southeast Europe, 1900-1940

Marius Turda
Paul J. Weindling
Copyright Date: 2007
Edition: NED - New edition, 1
Pages: 478
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.7829/j.ctt2jbmdp
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  • Book Info
    Blood and Homeland
    Book Description:

    The history of eugenics and racial nationalism in Central and Southeast Europe is a neglected topic of analysis in contemporary scholarship. The 20 essays in this volume, written by distinguished scholars of eugenics and fascism alongside a new generation of scholars, excavate the hitherto unknown eugenics movements in Central and Southeast Europe, including Austria and Germany. Eugenics and racial nationalism are topics that have constantly been marginalized and rated as incompatible with local national traditions in Central and Southeast Europe. These topics receive a new treatment here. On the one hand, the historiographic perspective connects developments in the history of anthropology and eugenics with political ideologies such as racial nationalism and anti-Semitism; on the other hand, it contests the 'Sonderweg' approach adopted by scholars dealing with these issues.

    eISBN: 978-615-5211-04-1
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-vii)
    Marius Turda
  4. List of Contributors
    (pp. viii-ix)
  5. [Map]
    (pp. x-x)
  6. Introduction
    • Eugenics, Race and Nation in Central and Southeast Europe, 1900–1940: A Historiographic Overview
      (pp. 1-20)
      Marius Turda and Paul J. Weindling

      In the concluding chapter to The Wellborn Science: Eugenics in Germany, France, Brazil and Russia (1990), Mark B. Adams complained about the lack of diversity in the comparative history of eugenics: “We are beginning to know something of Russian eugenics, but what of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and Slavic eastern Europe—Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Bulgaria, and the Ukraine? As a Catholic Slavic country, Poland should be an especially intriguing test case. Lemaine, Schneider, Clark, and others are clarifying the character of eugenics in France; what of other Latin cultures of Europe, what of eugenics in Italy, Spain, Portugal, Romania?”¹ After the collapse...

  7. Part I. Ethnography and Racial Anthropology
    • German “Race Psychology” and Its Implementation in Central Europe: Egon von Eickstedt and Rudolf Hippius
      (pp. 23-40)
      Egbert Klautke

      “Race psychology” claims to explain the characteristics, cultural abilities, and mental traits of nations and peoples by analysing their racial composition. It postulates that these characteristics or mental traits are linked to races in a hereditary and naturally determined fashion, thus existing independently of “external,” social factors. From this perspective, the physical characteristics of people, in which traditional physical anthropology was predominantly interested, are perceived as indicators of mental and intellectual qualities. For proponents of “race psychology,” the specific mental quality of a nation constitutes its identity; at the same time, mental differences constitute the essential differences between nations. Thus...

    • From “Prisoner of War Studies” to Proof of Paternity: Racial Anthropologists and the Measuring of “Others” in Austria
      (pp. 41-54)
      Margit Berner

      From the beginning of the twentieth century, the separation of physical and cultural anthropology occurred differently in English-speaking and German-speaking countries. Traditional academic seats of learning in Germany, and the names of the oldest learned societies, such as the German Society for Anthropology, Ethnology and Prehistory (Berliner Gesellschaft für Anthropologie, Ethnologie und Urgeschchte), or the Viennese Anthropological Society (Anthropologische Gesellschaft in Wien), reflected distinct branches of anthropology. Accordingly, separate faculties were created in acknowledgement of the different strands within the discipline. In the textbook Lehrbuch für Anthropologie (Textbook of Anthropology), first published in 1914, Rudolf Martin (1864–1925) urged German-speaking...

    • Volksdeutsche and Racial Anthropology in Interwar Vienna: The “Marienfeld Project”
      (pp. 55-82)
      Maria Teschler-Nicola

      In the second half of the nineteenth century, racial anthropology was shaped by positivist and materialist thinking, initially aiming at a quantitative assessment of physical traits and comparative anatomical “studies of race” in order to identify “ideal racial types.” But in contrast to the descent-based anthropological orientation, this branch of physical anthropology soon arrived at a deadlock. In Geschichte der Anthropologie (History of Anthropology), Wolfgang Mühlmann described this phenomenon as an “accumulation of a large number of facts whose interpretative value to biology has remained questionable.”¹ One of the most prominent exponents of this previously static approach was Augustin Weisbach...

    • Of “Yugoslav Barbarians” and Croatian Gentlemen Scholars: Nationalist Ideology and Racial Anthropology in Interwar Yugoslavia
      (pp. 83-122)
      Rory Yeomans

      In 1943, a Croatian translation of Ivo Pilar’s 1918 polemic about the dangers of Serbian domination in the Balkans, The South Slav Question, was published to great acclaim. The Croatian Minister of Education, Mile Starčević (1904–1953), a former student nationalist, wrote in an article to mark its publication that Pilar’s book had been the “bible” for his generation of Croatian nationalist youth at the University of Zagreb. With its theory of Serbian racial inferiority and the religious perils of Eastern Orthodoxy, Pilar’s book had inspired them in their struggle against Belgrade in the 1920s.¹ In his introduction, Ferdo Puček,...

    • Anthropological Discourse and Eugenics in Interwar Greece
      (pp. 123-142)
      Sevasti Trubeta

      During the 1920s, the decade in which anthropology was developed and institutionalized in Greece, the discipline was—as was the case in the rest of Europe—inextricably linked with politics. Moreover, anthropology was connected to the eugenic movement, as well as to population and racial studies. From its inception, Greek anthropology reflected both national ideas and those notions common in the rest of Europe, particularly in France and Germany, which had a significant impact on the evolution of anthropology in Greece.¹

      This chapter will analyze and discuss the context in which anthropology and eugenics emerged and developed in interwar Greece,...

  8. Part II. Eugenics and Racial Hygiene in National Contexts
    • Eugenics, Social Genetics and Racial Hygiene: Plans for the Scientific Regulation of Human Heredity in the Czech Lands, 1900–1925
      (pp. 145-166)
      Michal Šimůnek

      Contemporary interest in the history of eugenics is not only reflected in current discussions on the “new eugenics,” “neo-eugenics” or “backdoor-eugenics” but also at the political and ideological level.¹ Today it is clear that, when assessing the history of eugenics, it is necessary to build on the existence of multiple parallel eugenic movements as well as several modes of eugenic thinking, and that an important aspect of the current research focuses on a deeper analysis of their mutual interactions. In Toward a Comparative History of Eugenics (1990), Mark Adams identified six dimensions of the historical development of eugenics needing to...

    • Progressivism and Eugenic Thinking in Poland, 1905–1939
      (pp. 167-184)
      Magdalena Gawin

      The essential characteristic of the Polish eugenic movement, which developed from 1905 until the outbreak of the Second World War, was its progressivism. The term “progressivism” is used here to denote a certain perspective, founded on the belief that history is a process of conscious dynamic evolution and that man is responsible for his own destiny.¹ Progressivism equates scientific, technological, and ethical development. Polish eugenicists believed that it was possible to build a harmonious and advanced society, free from social problems such as alcoholism and prostitution, as well as physical disabilities and diseases. Eugenicists such as Leon Wernic (1870–1953),...

    • The First Debates on Eugenics in Hungary, 1910–1918
      (pp. 185-221)
      Marius Turda

      The history of eugenics in Hungary remains a neglected area in contemporary scholarship. Although studies dealing with German racial hygiene and eugenics during the interwar period record the eugenic ideals professed by various Hungarian political and intellectual figures, to date no scholarly discussion of the eugenic movement in Hungary has been undertaken.¹ One would have expected Hungarian scholarship to compensate for such a historiographic lacuna. However, in most Hungarian scholarship, eugenics is either marginalized as an insignificant historical detail, or treated indistinguishably from other subjects like bio-medical racism.²

      Such historical and academic neglect has, however, no justification. Like elsewhere, Hungarian...

    • Taking Care of the National Body: Eugenic Visions in Interwar Bulgaria, 1905–1940
      (pp. 223-252)
      Christian Promitzer

      In the 1942 issue of the German–Bulgarian Society Yearbook (Deutsch-Bulgarische Gesellschaft), the Bulgarian zoologist Stefan Konsulov (1885–1954) contributed a piece on the “nature of the Bulgarian.” One page was devoted to Bulgarian attitudes towards racial hygiene:

      In the past, the selection of bride and groom was made by the aged, by those who were well experienced […]. In its essence, the nature of this responsibility was definitely racial hygienic. As in many cases the Bulgarian people expressed their experience of the past in coarse proverbs and popular sayings. To quote one of the many racial hygienic proverbs: ‘Take...

    • The Self-Perception of a Small Nation: The Reception of Eugenics in Interwar Estonia
      (pp. 253-262)
      Ken Kalling

      Contemporary history has shown that the ideology of eugenics is more diverse as a body of knowledge than as a practical application. The approval of eugenic legislation, especially laws relating to sterilization, provides good criteria for testing the eugenic movements in different countries. The pervasive influence of eugenics in Scandinavian countries, the US, and Nazi Germany are the most known cases. Less well known is the case of the Baltic states, particularly Latvia and Estonia, and the passing of legislation during the 1930s according to the eugenic principles of obligatory sterilization and abortion. Besides shedding light on the emergence and...

    • Central Europe Confronts German Racial Hygiene: Friedrich Hertz, Hugo Iltis and Ignaz Zollschan as Critics of Racial Hygiene
      (pp. 263-280)
      Paul J. Weindling

      The new national states of interwar Europe were fertile seedbeds for the growth of eugenics as science, ideology and medical practice. Sandwiched between the two pariah states of Germany and the Soviet Union, Central European eugenics was astonishingly diverse. In part, there were influences from abroad. The Rockefeller Foundation sought to promote hygiene and welfare in the European successor states; social medicine in Weimar Germany had fertility control as a core interest; and there were socialist endeavors to produce a “new man.” Undoubtedly, there were heterogeneous streams in each country, which meant that population and health policies took on distinctive...

  9. Part III. Religion, Public Health and Population Policies
    • “Moses als Eugeniker”? The Reception of Eugenic Ideas in Jewish Medical Circles in Interwar Poland
      (pp. 283-298)
      Kamila Uzarczyk

      On account of eugenics being associated with Nazi racial policy, until recently there has been little discussion of Jewish eugenics. There is no doubt that eugenics, effectively a value judgment about the worth of human beings, has racist connotations. However, its evaluation solely in the context of the Nazi experience disregards the enormous popularity of eugenic ideas that related to social life, and the diversity of the international eugenic movement in the interwar period. The movement was not an ideological monolith, and the solutions to social problems postulated by the advocates of eugenic ideas were attractive for many societies aiming...

    • Eugenics and Catholicism in Interwar Austria
      (pp. 299-316)
      Monika Löscher

      Since the end of the nineteenth century, various proposals for the genetic betterment of human beings have been posited. These plans were not designed solely in Nazi Germany, but represented a worldwide trend. Eugenics, or “racial hygiene” as it was referred to in German-speaking Europe, was simultaneously a scientific and a political program, and was shaped by the interaction of science, politics and the interest of the general public. It was not only the political Right that elaborated eugenic proposals; all interwar movements across the political spectrum were influenced by this new science, although they developed different approaches. Protestant countries...

    • From Welfare to Selection: Vienna’s Public Health Office and the Implementation of Racial Hygiene Policies under the Nazi Regime
      (pp. 317-334)
      Herwig Czech

      Eugenics had been always characterized by a discrepancy between the utopian character of its ambitions and the actual possibilities for the realization of its projects. This was to change when National Socialism came to power in Germany. The phantasm of a “national body” (Volkskörper), which would be racially homogeneous (rassenrein) and free from hereditary pathologies (erbgesund), was one of the key elements of Nazi ideology and politics.

      The consequences of this ideology are well known: tens of thousands of inmates in German psychiatric institutions were murdered in the course of several “euthanasia” campaigns; around 400,000 persons were subject to forced...

    • Fallen Women and Necessary Evils: Eugenic Representations of Prostitution in Interwar Romania
      (pp. 335-350)
      Maria Bucur

      In the opening sequence of the movie An Unforgettable Summer, a group of Hungarian-speaking prostitutes moon several Romanian officers, who bypass their usual stop at the brothel for a more “civilized” night on the town—a ball at the local general’s luxurious residence. The movie, based on the 1920s novella Salata (The Salad) by Petru Dimitriu (1924–2002), is a bitter critique of both nationalism and the Western civilizing project of the interwar years. The altercation between the officers and the prostitutes offers a stark metaphor for the themes of the movie. As the beautiful women flash the officers in...

  10. Part IV. Anti-Semitism, Nationalism and Biopolitics
    • Culturalist Nationalism and Anti-Semitism in Fin-de-Siècle Romania
      (pp. 353-374)
      Răzvan Pârâianu

      During the nineteenth century, European thought was deeply influenced by a new heuristic notion used in most of the human sciences at the time. It was the idea of race, which, benefiting from the scientific prestige offered by natural sciences, achieved pre-eminence in many theories about human nature, society, history, and eventually culture. The idea that a group of people may share common physical and psychological features seemed a particularly powerful explanation for many scholars. This way of reasoning was extremely seductive because it established a biological foundation for the “science of man” and created the prerequisites for a positivist...

    • The Politics of Hatred: Scapegoating in Interwar Hungary
      (pp. 375-388)
      Attila Pók

      The loss, between 1918 and 1920, of two-thirds of pre-war Hungarian territory after the Treaty of Trianon (4 June 1920) caused trauma and repercussions, still felt in the present day. Not surprisingly, the “Trianon syndrome” is a standard point of reference when dealing with any aspect of twentieth-century Hungarian history. The argument of this chapter is that the conceptual framework of scapegoating is useful in explicating one of the key problems of twentieth-century Hungarian history—namely the relationship between anti-Semitism and Hungarian involvement in the implementation of the Holocaust in Hungary in 1944.¹ If there had been a Hungarian Historikerstreit,...

    • Racial Politics and Biomedical Totalitarianism in Interwar Europe
      (pp. 389-416)
      Aristotle A. Kallis

      There is no more pertinent evidence of the totalitarian nature of the National Socialist regime in Germany than its uncompromising ambition to exercise full authority over every aspect of individual and collective life. Firstly through a series of legislative initiatives (including most notably the 1933 “Sterilization Law” and the 1935 “Citizenship and Marriage Laws”), and from 1939 onwards through the torrent of murderous policies (for example the T-4 “Euthanasia Program” and the “Final Solution of the Jewish Question”), the National Socialist state became the primary arbiter of human value, survival and elimination.¹ This was a bio-political project of the most...

    • Tunnel Visions and Mysterious Trees: Modernist Projects of National and Racial Regeneration, 1880–1939
      (pp. 417-456)
      Roger Griffin

      With these words Ernst Bloch (1885–1977), later to become famous as one of the most original thinkers in the history of Marxism, articulated a paradoxical, defiant optimism just as the First World War and the fate of the entire Western world seemed to be reaching an apocalyptic climax. Anticipating the theme of his monumental Principle of Hope (1954–1959), written in exile from Nazism two decades later, The Spirit of Utopia, couched in an abstruse metaphysical register, presents the Marxist project to create a just social order not as the product of material factors, but as a palingenetic, Nietzschean...

  11. Index
    (pp. 457-467)
  12. Back Matter
    (pp. 468-468)