Southeast Europe, 1900–1940:
A Historiographic Overview
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 of Communism in 1989, topics such as eugenics, anti-Semitism and racism were resurrected as scholarly areas of interest, and researchers were given access to materials previously controlled by Communist regimes. As a result, a number of recently published monographs have quickly become essential readings of eugenic movements in Romania, Austria and Poland.2 Yet studies and monographs are still lacking on the history of eugenic movements in other Central and Southeast European countries.3 However, as this volume demonstrates, substantial analytical effort has been recently devoted to compensate for the lack of historiographic interest in these topics.
It should not be assumed that comparative histories of eugenic movements in Central and Southeast Europe have never preoccupied eugenicists and scholars of eugenics. In 1921, the Hungarian eugenicist Géza von Hoffmann (1885–1921) wrote an article under the title "Eugenics in the Central Empires since 1914," which constitutes the first analysis of various eugenic movements in Central Europe. Hoffmann compared the activities of various eugenics societies, including the Berlin Society for Racial Hygiene; the German Society for Racial Hygiene in Munich; the International Society for Racial Hygiene; the Austrian Society for