In the aftermath of World War I, international organizations descended upon the destitute children living in the rubble of Budapest and the city became a testing ground for how the West would handle the most vulnerable residents of a former enemy state. Budapest's Children reconstructs how Budapest turned into a laboratory of transnational humanitarian intervention. Friederike Kind-Kovács explores the ways in which migration, hunger, and destitution affected children's lives, casting light on children's particular vulnerability in times of distress. Drawing on extensive archival research, Kind-Kovács reveals how Budapest's children, as iconic victims of the war's aftermath, were used to mobilize humanitarian sentiments and practices throughout Europe and the United States. With this research, Budapest's Children investigates the dynamic interplay between local Hungarian organizations, international humanitarian donors, and the child relief recipients.
In tracing transnational relief encounters, Budapest's Children reveals how intertwined postwar internationalism and nationalism were and how child relief reinforced revisionist claims and global inequalities that still reverberate today.
1. MIGRATION: LIFE IN A DISPLACEMENT HUB
2. HUNGER: STARVING IN THE CAPITAL CITY
3. DEGENERATION: EMBODYING POSTWAR SUFFERING
4. INSTITUTIONS: THE GENESIS OF CHILD PROTECTION
5. INFRASTRUCTURES: MATERIALIZING 'GLOCAL' RELIEF
6. BODIES: FEEDING BUDAPEST'S HUNGRY CHILDREN
7. (INTER)NATIONALISM: THE POLITICS OF MATERIAL AID
8. DISPLACEMENT: THE AMBIGUITY OF CHILD TRANSPORTS
9. EDUCATION: WORKROOMS TO TEACH THE CHILDREN
CONCLUSION: TRANSFORMATION: FROM AID TO SELF-HELP
Friederike Kind-Kovács is a contemporary historian and senior researcher at the Hannah Arendt Institute for Totalitarianism Studies at TU Dresden and a lecturer at Regensburg University in Germany. She is author of Written Here, Published There: How Underground Literature Crossed the Iron Curtain, which won the University of Southern California Book Prize in Cultural and Literary Studies in 2015. She is editor (with Machteld Venken) of the double special issue "Childhood in Times of Political Transformation in the 20th Century" in the Journal of Modern European History; (with Heike Karge and Sara Bernasconi) of From the Midwife's Bag to the Patient's File: Public Health in Eastern Europe; and (with Jessie Labov) of Samizdat, Tamizdat, and Beyond: Transnational Media During and After Socialism.
"An original contribution to the history of humanitarian relief, child-welfare work, and the social impact of the First World War in Central Europe. Richly detailed and deeply researched, Budapest's Children traces the dire effects of war and demise of Hapsburg rule on conditions in Hungary's capital city and examines the diversity and interaction of organizations and actors, foreign and domestic, concerned with aiding children and mothers. An insightful analysis of social conditions, relief work, and their representation, Budapest's Children elucidates the evolution and dynamics of interwar humanitarianism as well as the politics informing it."—Heide Fehrenbach, Board of Trustees Professor, Northern Illinois University
"Contemporaries referred to Budapest in the immediate postwar years as the 'capital of human misery.' Friederike Kind-Kovács's meticulously researched and original study provides a compelling, and tragically topical, analysis of the impact of war and social disintegration on children. It also examines the ways in which suffering was instrumentalized in humanitarian aid programs, and the relationship between philanthropy and national prestige. It is an important contribution both to the history of childhood, and to the social and cultural history of imperial collapse in the interwar decades."—Catriona Kelly, Senior Research Fellow, Trinity College, University of Cambridge, UK
"Budapest's Children is a compelling, deeply researched, and all too timely account of the dire humanitarian crisis that gripped Budapest after World War I and of the valiant efforts of local and international aid workers to care for refugee children displaced by the collapse of the Habsburg empire. Rich with insights about the interaction of nationalist and internationalist politics and about the power that images of children's suffering have to move consciences and inspire action, this book is a magnificent contribution to the growing literature on war and its aftermath in East-Central Europe."—Paul Hanebrink, Rutgers University
"Historians of childhood will benefit from this book just as much as scholars interested in the history of humanitarianism. On a more general level, it provides valuable insights into a European region otherwise neglected: Hungary."—Martina Winkler, H-Soz-Kult