The Eugenic Fortress

The Transylvanian Saxon Experiment in Interwar Romania
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Publication date: 
290 pages

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 Saxons, turned to eugenics as a means of self-empowerment in inter-war Romania. The Eugenic
 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 analyzes 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.

i. Imagining a “Eugenic Fortress”: Fascist Who and Eugenic What? 
ii. Exclusions 
iii. Unpacking the Past 

CHAPTER I. Locating and Defining the Transylvanian Saxon Eugenic Discourse 
i. Heinrich Siegmund and the Origins of Saxon Eugenics 
ii. Saxon Racial Anthropology between Berlin and Vienna 
iii. The “Child Enthusiast” Alfred Csallner 
iv. Fritz Fabritius’s Self-Help, from “Building Society” to Rebuilding Society 
v. Wilhelm Schunn’s National Neighborhoods and Honorary Gifts 

CHAPTER II. Assessing the Dysgenic Crisis: Key Concepts and Theses in Alfred Csallner’s Definition of Saxon Degeneration 
i. The Lost Children: Family Planning and the Demographic Collapse 
ii. The Quality Question: The Nation’s Hereditarily “Best” under Threat of Extinction
iii. Emigration: The Loss of Saxon Hereditary Substance 
iv. Mixed Marriages: The End of Racial Distinctiveness 
v. Lebensraum: Of “Foreign Invaders,” Saxon Employers, and Society’s Scourges, Alcohol and Tobacco 

CHAPTER III. Alfred Csallner in Search of Eugenic Solutions and Institutional Means 
i. Eugenic Missionaries: Visions of Priests Old and New 
ii. Csallner’s Population Policy Proposals and the Church 
iii. Going It Alone: The Society of Child Enthusiasts, 1927–30 138
iv. The Self-Help Race Office, 1932–35 
v. The Reinvention of the Race Office as National Department or Statistics, Population Policy, and Genealogy, 1935–38 
vi. The National Office for Statistics and Genealogy and Its ix Departments, 1938–41 

CHAPTER IV. Fascist Visions of a Eugenic Fortress: The Self-Help’s Origins and Rise to Power, 1922–33 
i. Fritz Fabritius and the Origins of Saxon Fascism 
ii. Early Development, 1922–29 
iii. Expansion and Radicalization, 1929–32 
iv. The NSDR Victorious, 1932–33 

CHAPTER V. Saxon Fascism in Power, 1933–40 
i. The Self-Help’s Various Forms and Formats, 1933–34 
ii. War and Peace: The National Community of Germans in Romania, 1935–40 
iii. The Mighty Pen: The 1935 National Program of Germans in Romania 
iv. Building a Bristling Eugenic Fortress, One Neighborhood at a Time: Wilhelm’s Schunn’s National Neighborhoods, 1933–40 

CHAPTER VI. 1940 and Everything After 


"Georgescu positions his research within broader historiographical fields of European eugenics and fascism. Following Roger Griffin, he treats fascism as a type of 'palingenetic ultra-nationalism' empowered by deep panic over perceived degeneration of the national community and an urgent need to save it by means of strict population policies and racial hygiene. Thus understood, fascism becomes largely coterminous with the eugenic movement, whose moment of greatest influence coincides with fascist rule. Georgescu sees his contribution to the historiography of Saxon fascism, most of it in German, in his rediscovering the longevity and centrality of eugenic discourse and practice in this phenomenon, as well as in demonstrating the independence of Saxon fascism from Hitler’s National Socialism."
"While most eugenics studies focus on cases empowered by nation-states, few have examined ethnic minorities pursuing independent or competing eugenic agendas. Georgescu offers the Saxon case study as a model against which to investigate how other minorities responded to, and sometimes advanced, the rise of biological determinism more generally. The particular significance of the Saxon case study is that it sought practical means to implement its eugenic policies. Saxon eugenicists responded to their minority status and strong assimilatory pressures with an increasingly radical eugenic discourse that sought the support of a complementary fascist movement (the Self-Help movement) in the 1920s. Georgescu persuasively demonstrates that an interwar ethnic minority could pursue an ambitious eugenic agenda without statehood (and even with state opposition). While the church necessarily remained central to eugenic discourse due to its social significance and infrastructure, Saxon... more
"The particular merit of this book is that it sharpens the eye for examining eugenic aspirations and the use of a eugenic/racial hygienic language among the Transylvanian Saxon elites. Tudor Georgescu's intention is more than the reconstruction of the eugenic narrative, however. As announced in the book's introduction, this case study aims at contributing to closing a gap in the research on eugenics by addressing a neglected matter: the eugenics agendas of a minority and their attempts at implementation without nation-state structures. The extensive archival research carried out by Tudor Georgescu, especially regarding the welfare institutions founded or directed by Csellner, is helpful for examining bio-political agendas, keeping in mind, however, that not every form of bio-politics and biological determinism is identical with eugenics."