Das „Aussetzen überlästiger und nachtheiliger Kinder“
Die Wiener Findelanstalt 1784–1910
Schlagworte:Foundling hospital, child welfare, Enlightenment, infant mortality, infanticide, illegitimacy, foster family
An examination of the history of foundling hospitals, common institutions of child welfare since the Enlightenment, where the main reasons for child abandonment – high rates of illegitimacy and the fear of infanticide – are subject to discussion. This article poses questions, why foundling hospitals emerged to be such enduring institutions, in spite of horribly high mortality rates. Apart from providing descriptions of the lives and deaths of the foundlings despatched in the Vienna foundling hospital, one of the largest in Europe, the article stresses two important facts: Once the state had taken on the obligation, it was impossible for the institution to restrain itself; and the need for such an institution, fostering infants, was high priority. Due to the lack of other organisations, the foundling hospital was run to full capacity und represents a longstanding, ongoing transitional phenomenon.