Research & Teaching

Social hygiene and healthcare policy in Frankfurt am Main from 1920 to 1960

Researcher: Jens Kolata M.A.

Funding: City of Frankfurt am Main (Health Department)

The history of the Frankfurt health authority under National Socialism was already the object of historiographic examination in the late 1980s, in particular in terms of the role it played in the Nazi policy of forced sterilisation. This research project broadens the view and looks at the history of »social hygiene« in Frankfurt am Main from the 1920s into the 1950s. It regards the health authority as the centrepiece in a network of institutions and individuals who cared for, supervised, regimented and disciplined primarily socially disadvantaged and marginalised individuals. The scope of the research project extends beyond the watershed years 1933 and 1945, and also explores the process of radicalisation before the Nazi period as well as intellectual and scientific continuities in the early days of the Federal Republic of Germany.

Based on health authority case files, the perspective of affected individuals is to be examined first and foremost; such individuals often appeared on the radar screen of authorities as entire families. The research will also explore day-to-day practice of interaction between the health authority and other institutions such as the youth welfare office (National Socialist Public Welfare Office), the social security office, and the welfare office, as well as the municipal employment office. It will also examine the scope physicians and civil servants were allowed in making decisions and taking action. The to-date insufficiently evaluated »heredity card filing system«, which contained a total of 420,000 cards in 1943 and whose maintenance was practiced until the 1960s, constitutes an object of research of major interest, also beyond Frankfurt.