A Foreign Lady: The Polish Episode in the Influenza Pandemic of 1918
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The essay describes the Polish episode in the 1918–20 influenza pandemic, situating the occurrence in the European and international context, and covering some relevant research issues. The topic is introduced by a brief discussion of the most recent hypotheses regarding the genesis of the pandemic and how it related to the World War in its declining phase. The core section, discussing the situation in Poland, begins with a description of the civilisation crisis caused by the frontline recurring across the country and the policies pursued by the occupational powers and the tough sanitary conditions implied by these developments. A survey of accessible sources is preceded by an outlined reconstruction of the course of the epidemic in various areas of the country, delineation of its timeframe, description of the symptoms and of the responses to the disease, attempts made to prevent its dissemination, and treatment methods in use at the time. The author seeks to determine the basic figures such as the morbidity and mortality rates, as compared against the data available for the other countries. In conclusion, considered are the presumed reasons behind the disappearance of the ‘Spanish flu’ epidemic experience from Polish collective memory.
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