S:I.M.O.N. is an e-journal of the Vienna Wiesenthal Institute for Holocaust Studies (VWI). It appears twice a year in English and German language. S:I.M.O.N. aims at both a transnational and comparative history of the Holocaust and Jewish Studies in Central and Eastern Europe within the broader contexts of the European history of the 20th and 21st century, including its prehistory, consequences and legacies as well as the history of memory.
S:I.M.O.N. serves as a forum for discussion of various methodological approaches. The journal especially wishes to strengthen the exchange between researchers from different scientific communities and to integrate both the Jewish history and the history of the Holocaust into the different “national” narratives. It also lays a special emphasis on memory studies and the analysis of politics of memory. S:I.M.O.N. uses a double-blind review system, which means that both the reviewer’s and the author’s identities are concealed from each other hroughout the review process.
Shoah: The journal deals with the history of the Shoah from multidisciplinary, transnational and comparative perspectives. It seeks to integrate studies on Jews as well as on other groups of victims of the Holocaust, especially on Roma, and of so far less researched regions of (East) Central and (South) Eastern Europe.
Intervention. The journal reports on research projects and their transmission into public events. It also informs about current educational and remembrance programs.
Methods. The journal serves as a forum for the discussion of methodological approaches as, for instance, the everyday history, oral history, gender history, the history of violence, anti-Semitism and racism and the theory of memory and memory politics.
DocumentatiON. The journal contributes to critical approaches on using and interpreting archival materials in the 21st century.
Download the current issue S:I.M.O.N. 2016/2.
The fate of the European Roma during the Holocaust, the murder of several hundreds of thousands of Roma and Sinti in the territories under control of the Third Reich – a genocide which by Roma and Sinti representatives is also referred to as 'Porrajimos' or 'Samusdripen' – now forms an accepted part of European historical discourse on the 20th century and has become the focal point of a new Europe-wide process of Roma identity formation. In its monstrosity and unprecedented brutality it is like a vast shadow cast upon the common history of Roma and Gadje alike, a memento of an unspeakably dehumanised past.
Historians have reconstructed the events that culminated in these murderous acts in great detail, mapping the increasingly radical acts of marginalisation and persecution of people labelled as 'Zigeuner' ('Gypsies') by the authorities. This marginalisation started during the Romantic period, when Europeans were told to see 'Gypsies' as fundamentally different and exotic – the 'last savages of Europe'. This, combined with the emerging 'science' of eugenics, which declared these differences to be genetically determined and therefore immutable, prepared the ground for their marginalisation and exclusion from society, based on pseudoscientific concepts.
A severe social crisis caused by the global economic crisis of the 1930s, aggravated by the lack of adequate social welfare systems in Central and Eastern Europe at the time, led to clashes between the Roma and non-Roma populations, especially in the formerly Hungarian, now Austrian, Burgenland region. This later provided the justification for the Nazi administration's racist policies against Roma and Sinti, which eventually culminated in genocide. Some key ingredients in this catastrophe may seem strangely familiar now, as we can again encounter them in Europe today. Looking at the policies that paved the way for the Nazi genocide of the 'Gypsies', it becomes clear that many of today's policies and administrative practices affecting Roma, especially in Eastern Europe, are not that new after all and have worrying echoes in the past.
Between June 1938 and his deportation to Theresienstadt in January 1943, Dr. Benjamin Murmelstein acted as the right hand man of Dr. Josef Löwenherz, the head of the Jewish Community in Vienna. Both Murmelstein as a person and the manner in which he executed his office were regarded with some controversy during this time. Murmelstein's bad reputation even remained with him in Theresienstadt; it also affected post-war writings, including those of highly respected researchers. The negative assessment of the two Viennese officials essentially applies to the actions of the Jewish Councils in general. Research into the situation in which Murmelstein and Löwenherz had to execute their offices, into the choices that were available to them even in the darkness of ideologically determined hatred of the Jews and into what they were able to achieve in the interests of the Jews despite the indomitable pressure upon them reveal a different picture of Murmelstein and Löwenherz: their bad reputation is shown to be a distortion.
During the clerical-fascist Slovak State, "Tóno" Brtko, a docile and poor carpenter, is offered the possibility to 'aryanise' the small Main Street sewing accessories shop of Rozália Lautmannová. Torn between his good-natured principles and his greedy wife Evelyna, he finally agrees to take over the shop by making the deaf and senile lady believe he is her nephew arriving to help her out. Yet he then discovers that the business is bankrupt, and Ms. Lautmannová is only relying on donations from the Jewish community. While letting his wife believe he is making money from the shop, he gradually becomes a supporter of the old lady. More and more, a cordial relationship between the two evolves. When the Slovak authorities finally decide to deport the Jewish population of the small town, Tóno, in a deep conflict with himself and his values, finally opts for hiding Ms. Lautmannová – a decision which turns into tragedy. Obchod na korze won the 'Oscar' for Best Foreign Language Film in 1966. The film was presented on the occasion of a VWI-Visuals presentation on 29 January 2015 in Vienna's Admiralkino.