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Budapest's Children: Humanitarian Relief in the Aftermath of the Great War

Forschungsschwerpunkt: Age, Care and Aid in Times of Crisis (Projekt abgeschlossen)
Koordination: PD Dr. habil. Friederike Kind-Kovács


This historical book project takes one of Central Europe’s major urban spaces, the capital city Budapest, to reconstruct how, in the aftermath of WWI, this social melting pot turned into a ‘laboratory’ of transnational humanitarian intervention. To understand the particularly pressing postwar condition, this monograph elaborates on how coerced migration, hunger, and destitution affected children’s lives, their bodies and their care, throwing light on the relationship between violent conflicts and children’s particular vulnerability. It uncovers how Budapest's children, as iconic victims of the war's aftermath, were used to trigger humanitarian sentiments throughout the United States and Western Europe. The book’s mission is to investigate the dynamic ‘glocal’ interplay between local Hungarian organizations, international humanitarian donors and the child relief recipients. In tracing these transnational encounters that revolved around practices of feeding, clothing, displacing and educating Budapest’s children, this book reveals that, while a truly trans-national endeavor, children’s relief was at its core a deeply national undertaking. On the one hand, international relief organizations manifested their global power as winners of this humanitarian war against hunger. Hungary, on the other hand, rewrote its international reputation from an enemy to a victim nation. Amid the recent centennial of the Treaty of Trianon in June 2020, the book encourages readers to identify conspicuous parallels between past and present and raises inconvenient questions about the dangers of historical continuities.