“There are sick people everywhere – in cities, towns and villages”. The course of the Spanish flu epidemic in Poland
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“There are sick people everywhere – in cities, towns and villages”. The course of the Spanish flu epidemic in Poland(Summary)The 1918–20 epidemic of Spanish flu killed 50 to 100 million people throughout the world. As observed during its course, as well as later research, the pandemic came in waves and in several stages. The most lethal was the wave which struck in the autumn of 1918, coinciding with the end of World War I. The pandemic was concurrent with several changes of fundamental importance for both Europe and the world’s political, social and cultural history, which undoubtedly had an impact on the fact that one of the most severe pandemics in the history of mankind is often called “the forgotten epidemic”. In recent years, however, the Spanish flu pandemic has become the subject of multiple analyses, in the fields of both natural and social sciences. Until now, little was known about the course of the epidemic in Poland. This article is an attempt to fill the gap – at least to some extent. The source data collected has made it possible to more or less accurately determine exactly when the epidemic raged through Poland. Similarly to the neighbouring countries, the epidemic began in the summer and peaked in the autumn of 1918 with the last registered instances of Spanish flu being noted in the winter of 1920. By confronting the knowledge gleaned from Western literature on the subject with the results of research conducted by Russian scientists (which seem to be unknown in the West) as well as my own findings, it was possible to ascertain the course of the epidemic in Poland in a pan-European context. As demonstrated by the example of Jastrzębia, a village in the Tarnów district, Spanish flu may have had a significant impact on the annual mortality rate. It also disrupted, at least temporarily, the normal course of social life. This article is a contribution to further research on this topic.
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