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Blood and Homeland

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

Edited by Marius Turda

Publication Year: 2006

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.

Published by: Central European University Press


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pp. 1-3

Title Page

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p. 4-4

Copyright Page

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p. 5-5


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pp. v-vi

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pp. vii-8

The majority of the papers included in this volume were presented at the international workshop Technologies of Race: Eugenics, Biopolitics and Nation-Building in Interwar Europe, held at the Central European University in Budapest between 28 and 29 June 2004. The workshop was generously sponsored by Pasts, Inc. Centre for...

List of Contributors

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pp. viii-ix

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Introduction: Eugenics, Race and Nation in Central and Southeast Europe, 1900–1940: A Historiographic Overview

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pp. 1-20

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...

Part I: Ethnography and Racial Anthropology

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pp. 21-142

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German “Race Psychology” and Its Implementation in Central Europe: Egon von Eickstedt and Rudolf Hippius

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pp. 23-40

“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...

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From “Prisoner of War Studies” to Proof of Paternity: Racial Anthropologists and the Measuring of “Others” in Austria

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pp. 41-53

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...

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Volksdeutsche and Racial Anthropology in Interwar Vienna: The “Marienfeld Project”

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pp. 55-82

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...

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Of “Yugoslav Barbarians” and Croatian Gentlemen Scholars: Nationalist Ideology and Racial Anthropology in Interwar Yugoslavia

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pp. 83-122

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...

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Anthropological Discourse and Eugenics in Interwar Greece

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pp. 123-142

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...

Part II: Eugenics and Racial Hygiene in National Contexts

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pp. 143-155

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Eugenics, Social Genetics and Racial Hygiene: Plans for the Scientific Regulation of Human Heredity in the Czech Lands, 1900–1925

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pp. 145-166

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...

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Progressivism and Eugenic Thinking in Poland, 1905–1939

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pp. 167-183

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...

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The First Debates on Eugenics in Hungary, 1910–1918

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pp. 185-221

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...

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Taking Care of the National Body: Eugenic Visions in Interwar Bulgaria, 1905–1940

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pp. 223-252

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...

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The Self-Perception of a Small Nation: The Reception of Eugenics in Interwar Estonia

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pp. 253-262

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...

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Central Europe Confronts German Racial Hygiene: Friedrich Hertz, Hugo Iltis and Ignaz Zollschan as Critics of Racial Hygiene

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pp. 263-280

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...

Part III: Religion, Public Health and Population Policies

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pp. 281-350

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“Moses als Eugeniker”? The Reception of Eugenic Ideas in Jewish Medical Circles in Interwar Poland

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pp. 283-297

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...

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Eugenics and Catholicism in Interwar Austria

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pp. 299-316

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...

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From Welfare to Selection: Vienna’s Public Health Office and the Implementation of Racial Hygiene Policies under the Nazi Regime

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pp. 317-333

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...

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Fallen Women and Necessary Evils: Eugenic Representations of Prostitution in Interwar Romania

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pp. 335-350

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...

Part IV: Anti-Semitism, Nationalism and Biopolitics

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pp. 351-362

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Culturalist Nationalism and Anti-Semitism in Fin-de-Siècle Romania

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pp. 353-373

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...

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The Politics of Hatred: Scapegoating in Interwar Hungary

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pp. 375-388

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...

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Racial Politics and Biomedical Totalitarianism in Interwar Europe

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pp. 389-415

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...

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Tunnel Visions and Mysterious Trees: Modernist Projects of National and Racial Regeneration, 1880–1939

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pp. 417-456

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...


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pp. 457-467

Back Cover

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p. 478-478

E-ISBN-13: 9786155211041
Print-ISBN-13: 9789637326776

Page Count: 478
Publication Year: 2006

Edition: 1st