The First World War and the disintegration of the Austro-Hungarian Empire brought an end to Central Europe’s place at the forefront of biomedical science. As the Allies’ wartime blockade continued into the peace, hunger and disease gripped Central and Eastern Europe. Vienna, Berlin and Moscow saw a dramatic spike in deaths after 1918. The Spanish flu has received a great deal of attention recently. At the time, people were just as – if not more – preoccupied by the risks posed by typhus and tuberculosis. In Vienna, one in every four deaths was caused by TB. Dr Siegfried Rosenfeld, of the Austrian Department of Health Statistics in the Volksgesundheitsamt, called it the ‘Viennese Disease’.