The Eugenic Fortress: The Transylvanian Saxon Experiment in Interwar Romania

The Eugenic Fortress: The Transylvanian Saxon Experiment in Interwar Romania

The Eugenic Fortress: The Transylvanian Saxon Experiment in Interwar Romania

The Eugenic Fortress: The Transylvanian Saxon Experiment in Interwar Romania

Synopsis

The ever-growing library on the history of eugenics and fascism focuses largely on nation-states, while Georgescu asks why an ethnic minority, the German-speaking Transylvanian Saxon?, turned to eugenics as a means of self-empowerment in interwar Romania. The Eugenic Fortress examines the eugenic movement that emerged in the early twentieth century, and focuses on its conceptual and methodological evolution during this turbulent period. Further on, the book analyses the gradual process of radicalization and politicization by a second generation of Saxon eugenicists in conjunction with the rise of an equally indigenous fascist movement. The Saxon case study offers valuable insights into why an ethnic minority would seek to re-entrench itself behind the race-hygienic walls of a "eugenic fortress," as well as the influence that home nations had upon its design. Georgescu's work is ground-breaking in the sense that the history of this uprooted community is usually handled with extreme sensitivity and serious (and critical) research into Transylvanian Saxon involvement with Nazism has been scant, until now.

Excerpt

The post-Versailles reshuffle of Eastern Europe’s borders signified the onset of a new era in the relationship between minorities and host nations, old and new alike. It marked the beginning of an interwar period awash with homogenizing nation-building projects that sought meaning and purpose in the new geopolitical realities that fostered them. Romania, for one, could certainly be content with the rewards reaped at the negotiating tables of a waning First World War belatedly joined on the Entente’s side on August 27, 1916. All the more so considering that following a short burst of territorial conquests in southeastern Hungary, Romania had been overrun by Austro-German forces, which captured Bucharest four months later. However, with the harsh Treaty of Bucharest annulled by Germany’s defeat, Romania’s fortunes were dramatically reversed. the Treaty of Saint-Germain with Austria awarded Romania Bukovina, while that of Trianon with Hungary swelled Romania’s territorial gains with Transylvania. a third peace accord, with Bulgaria, granted Romania Dobrudja, while the Bessarabian National Congress had already voted to separate from Bolshevik Russia. Although the acquisition of Bessarabia was of significant economic and strategic value, Transylvania was the main prize, the ultimate fulfilment of nationalist dreams and their “total nation-state” ambitions. Irina Livezeanu likened it to a national “revolution,” while emphasizing that the integra-

1 the geographic concept of “Transylvania” is itself fairly fluid, and must briefly be outlined. the Trianon Treaty had not merely awarded Romania the historic Transylvania (the medieval Voievodat), but large portions of eastern Hungary that harbored significant Romanian populations as well—namely, Crişana, Satu-Mare, Maramureş, and part of the Banat. It is this territorial conglomerate that is commonly understood to mean Transylvania. in this study, the term is used in its historic remit, and refers to Siebenbürgen alone.

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