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The Health Office of the City of Düsseldorf on General Health Conditions (1946)

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3. Hygiene in daily life, especially cleanliness, and a lack of beds, linen, and clothing.

Hygiene: Cleanliness in general is very poor. The care given to dress has declined. Because of the lack of necessary cleaning materials (scrubbers, floor rags, and soap), apartments can no longer be kept clean. Poor cleanliness, especially among children, as a result of a lack of soap, poor washing facilities, and also the absolute lack of options for boiling and heating, was consistently observed. This caused a marked increase in cases of scabies and furunculosis.

The lack of beds (several persons, adults and children together, are consistently sleeping in one room) is very great; the same is true of the lack of bedding, pillows, mattresses, linen, clothes, and above all shoes for school-age children. Because of a lack of mending material and sewing thread, clothes and linen cannot be repaired. Baby clothes hardly exist, and there is a great shortage of beds, linen, and clothing for tuberculosis patients. Loud complaints are heard especially about the lack of linen among tuberculosis patients who want to enter sanitaria.

B. Noteworthy observations regarding special diseases and dangerous manifestations, especially

1. An unusually large increase in infectious diseases.

a) Tuberculosis: The number of deaths from TB was 431 in 1946, compared to 267 in 1939. Per 10,000 inhabitants, that is 4.9 in 1939 and 8.1 in 1946.

b) Infectious diseases: small measles and mumps epidemics were fairly minor. – In addition, purulent skin rashes and colds continue to increase, and filth-related diseases (impetigo, vermin) as well as worms occurred more frequently.

2. Premature loss of bodily strength and a lack of resistance to diseases.

Strong, premature decline was especially evident in older and middle-aged working men and in menopausal women. Women in childbed recovered only very slowly after normal births and often remain anemic for a longer period and are not able to work. A more frequent occurrence of circulatory disorders, in part with a tendency toward fainting and the like, was observed.

3. Pronounced protein deficiency diseases.

An increase in underweight persons and occasional edemas were observed, as was an increase in urinary urgency, and a tendency toward bedwetting among children.

4. Drug abuse.

No special observations.

5. Abortion.

The increased occurrence of terminated pregnancies suggests that abortions are being performed.

Source: Jahresbericht 1946 – Gesundheitsamt der Stadt Düsseldorf [Annual Report 1946 – Health Office of the City of Düsseldorf], HSTA/Bestand NW 6/205, reprinted in Klaus-Jörg Ruhl, ed., Frauen in der Nachkriegszeit 1945-63 [Women in the Postwar Era, 1945-1963]. Munich: Deutscher Taschenbuch Verlag, 1988, pp. 19-21.

Translation: Thomas Dunlap

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