"Kultuurrahvaste mentaliteet peab saama enam kollektivistlikumaks" (Dr Juhan Vilmsi sõnad ja teod). The Words and Deeds of Dr Juhan Vilms


  • Ken Kalling




Dr Juhan Vilms (1893–1952) was a remarkable person in pre-war Estonian public and political life, but his contribution has been modestly discussed until today. A practicing physician in Tallinn, he was also active in Estonian abstinence and eugenics movements, and held a high position in the Estonian sports administration. For a short period he was a member of the Estonian Parliament Riigikogu for the Labour Party.

Vilms can be remembered by his rather idiosyncratic statements. Already in 1920 he published a book the main argument of which was to introduce polygamy in Estonia (to increase the population in a situation where women were outnumbering men in the post-war years).

In the 1930s Vilms advocated fascism and corporatism in his writings. Vilms was motivated to support such viewpoints owing to his eugenic convictions. His main concern was pronatalism—Vilms dreamed of increasing the number of Estonians from one million to at least two. As numerous factors were influencing the demographic situation in the country, Vilms also became involved in many issues from agricultural politics to medical ethics.

Despite of being ridiculed, Vilms definitely contributed to the Estonian public health policy. The so-called Congresses of National Breeding organised with his participation in 1927 and 1935 caused the Estonian state to concentrate on important topics connected to public health and demographic improvement.

In 1943 Vilms escaped the Nazis and left Estonia for Finland. He died in Argentina.


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