In Hungary, official memory and history discourses often distinguish between ‘Jews’ and ‘Hungarians’, harking back to the Horthy-era concept of the ‘Christian national’ state. This dichotomy clashes with modern ideas of citizenship and acts as a carrier of antisemitism. This lecture analyses the role of political authority in fostering integration or exclusion over a long time span. It begins with the attitudes of those holding political power in the Kingdom of Hungary in the Middle Ages, when the distinction between Jews and Christians was based on religious affiliation. In particular, two processes will be examined: one leading to increased integration, granting protection and rights, and the other promoting segregation, demonisation and hostility. The lecture will then focus on key moments in modern history, exploring the functions of these two contradictory but related processes. It will finally tackle the question of the role of the state in (dis)continuities between medieval exclusion and modern antisemitism.
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. 2017/1.
This article outlines the principal directions of my research: It focuses on the interplay of antisemitism and fascism in the ideology of the legionary movement in inter-war Romania as well as on the virtual consensus on antisemitism that was established in the 1930s as a result of the support for the movement received from most of the representatives of the ‘new generation’ of Romanian intellectuals. This consensus was pivotal in desensitising the general population towards the plight of Romanian Jews and making it possible for the discriminatory measures to gradually escalate into outright policies of extermination. Thus my research demonstrates the responsibility held by the legionary movement even though they were not directly involved in the Romanian wartime Holocaust perpetrated by the Antonescu regime: The legionary movement nevertheless promoted an antisemitic discourse that was much more extreme than that of all its predecessors and contemporaries, advocating a radical exclusion with genocidal overtones. Moreover, while being as ideological and abstract as its Nazi counterpart, legionary antisemitism posited religion rather than race as the basis for the exclusion of the Jews in line with the ideology of a movement that presented itself as ‘spiritual’ and ‘Christian’. The legionary exclusion based on religion proved as violent and murderous as the one based on race, both before and during the movement‘s time in power. As such, the evidence from the Romanian case study can serve to nuance and even challenge existing interpretations that identify only racist antisemitism as genocidal.
Robert Jan van Pelt
Auschwitz, Holocaust-Denial, and the Irving Trial
Since the 1970s, Holocaust deniers have focused their attention especially on the issue of crematoria in Auschwitz, thinking that questioning the existence of these would enable them to deny the Holocaust itself. The Holocaust deniers' attacks against the evidence of the Auschwitz crematoria reached a dramatic apex during the infamous London court case David Irving against Deborah Lipstadt in the year 2000. Court-ordered expert Robert Jan van Pelt defended his 700 page report under cross examination for five days – the outcome was pathetic for David Irving.
The Dutch architectural historian's lecture in English focused on the background and developments of this historical court case.
This text is the penultimate chapter of Zoltán Halasi's book Út az üres éghez (Road to an Empty Sky). With this work, which was first published in Hungarian, the author created a singular memorial to Polish-Jewish culture and its destruction. Setting out from the Yiddish Holocaust poem Dos lid funm ojsgehargetn jidischen folk by Itzhak Katzenelson, Halasi records what was lost in the Shoah in the course of nineteen compelling chapters. He takes on the grab of an art historian, a literary critic and a travel guide when he reports about a wooden synagogue and the Jewish quarter in Warsaw. In the role of a German banker, he illuminates the aims of the Nazi monetary policies, as a writer of SS brochures he highlights the absurdity of racism. Depicting a Selektion in the Warsaw ghetto, he shows the grim logic of compulsive acts in catastrophic situations, draws an image of the running of the extermination camp Treblinka. The cynical words of two German policemen provide an insight into the rituals of mass executions and introduce us to the craft of murder. The final chapter is an interplay of slithers of narrative by Jewish children on the run and by those who helped and hid them that borders on the unbearable.
The chapter reproduced on the following pages has three parts: Part one is a Treblinka railway station master's report to the Polish Home Army. In the second part, a former Jewish detainee who managed to escape from the extermination camp Treblinka gives a literary treatment of his arrival at the camp. The final part consists of an inner monologue by the Treblinka extermination camp's director of administration.
The book will shortly be published in Polish at the Nisza publishing company in Warsaw. The German-speaking public was first presented with the work on December 1, 2015 at the Simon Wiesenthal Conference 2015. The German translation by Éva Zádor and Heinrich Eisterer is in progress.
Nóra Berend: Jews and the Hungarian State. Integrative and Exclusionary Models from Medieval to Modern Times