Epidemics and genocide in eastern Europe, 1890-1945 /

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Main Author: Weindling, Paul.
Format: Book
Language:English
Published:Oxford ; New York : Oxford University Press, 2000.
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Review by Choice Review

The author has produced a monograph that is dense and academic but at the same time stimulating. Investigating the connection between the drive for scientific identification, control, and elimination of typhus bacteria in 19th- and early-20th-century Germany and the extermination of Jews under Hitler in gas chambers tricked out as delousing stations, the book draws on an array of materials. These range from eight national archives and numerous regional German repositories. The result is a compelling work. The first eight chapters provide the background to the argument, meticulously covering such matters as 19th-century German concerns about parasitism and ideas and technologies for combating bacteria and lice. Important here, too, is the treatment of the widespread discussion of cremation as a technique for the hygienic disposal of the dead in post-WW I Germany. Chapters 9 and 10 are the pivotal ones in which Weindling attempts to establish a connection between these pre-Nazi efforts and the Holocaust. Also informative are the concluding chapters on the use of human guinea pigs, louse feeders, and biological warfare. Must reading for all historians interested in epidemiology and the Holocaust. Graduate, faculty level. G. E. Snow; Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania

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