There is a paradox saying in contemporary Russia that a country's past cannot be predicted: the image of the Russian or Soviet past is always influenced by the interpretation of the current political situation. In order to be able to understand why Russia is once again in the smothering hold of an “unpredictable past” and why one's attitude to Stalin is still, 62 years after his death, the sole measure for a person's position on democracy and liberal values, we must take a closer look at the social conditions during the second half of the 1980s. This paper addresses that task. Its particular focus is the construction of an official state ideology from contradictory historical images by the ruling elites in contemporary Russia.
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.
Heavy fighting around 'fortress Breslau' resulted in the German surrender on May 6, 1945 and almost completely destroyed the city. The following three years saw the 'relocation' of the city's entire German population to the West. It was the beginning of the city's great transfer period, which inevitably caused the losses of homes and identity crises: it included the ‚resettlement‘ of the German inhabitants, the settlement of Poles, the forced resettlement of the Ukrainian population, the expulsion of the returned members of the German-Jewish community as well as the directed settlement of Polish Shoah survivors. Breslau became Wrocław: the city was rid of German traces, utterly Polonized and, together with the entire area of Lower Silesia, celebrated as a „recovered territory“. The Polish settlers who surged into the city immediately after the end of the war, including Polish Jewish survivors, were supposed to find a new home there. This proved to be too great a challenge under the circumstances of the immediate post-war era: Wrocław was immersed in chaos and destruction, the presence of its German inhabitants was still apparent throughout the city (at least until 1948), the reorganization of the Polish state structures as well as the political consolidation of power was only just underway. Moreover, other factors also contributed to the demolition of initial prospects that Jewish life would be established in post-war Poland. This contribution aimed to analyse and illuminate these factors at hand of the example of Wrocław.
Omer Bartov's presentation addressed the way in which Ukrainians, Poles and Jews remember the Holocaust in the formerly multi-ethnic town of Buczacz, where Simon Wiesenthal was born (as was Omer Bartov's mother). Buczacz is located in what used to be the Austro-Hungarian province of Galicia, then became part of Poland's eastern lands and is now part of the Western Ukraine. For centuries, it was marked by its population's ethnic and religious diversity. During the time of the Second World War, the Nazis murdered the entire Jewish population; the Polish inhabitants fell victim to ethnic cleansing by Ukrainian nationalists and Soviet authorities. Omer Bartov used written and oral reports by victims and survivors in order to investigate the relationship between memory and history, between individual fates and grand historical processes of change. He argued for the healing effect of remembrance and coming to terms with the past. The presentation was accompanied by a wealth of pictures of Buczacz and of Omer Bartov's research activities in that city.
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.
Irina Scherbakowa: Erinnerung versus Verdrängung am Beispiel Russland. Vom schwierigen Umgang mit der Vergangenheit