Columbia University in the City of New York

Harriman Institute

Book cover. Image links to event page.



Book Talk. Budapest’s Children: Humanitarian Relief in the Aftermath of the Great War
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Please join the East Central European Center and the Harriman Institute for a book talk by Friederike Kind-Kovács. Moderated by Malgorzata Mazurek.

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 was 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.

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.