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. 2017/1.
Der russische Blick auf die Shoah
Both during the Soviet era and after its collapse, there has been no room for Holocaust remembrance in Russia's collective memory; memorials and textbooks only marginally touch on the topic. In 2008, quantitative research across Russia investigated the relationship between tolerance and Holocaust knowledge within the Russian population and concluded that the majority of Russians were not aware of the Holocaust, its victims and their numbers. Considering the fact that the current territory of Russia includes at least 400 sites of perpetration of the genocide of European and Soviet Jews, these results urge the question of the causes for this suppression.
The city of Rostov-on-Don served as an example in order to address the question of how people now remember the former site of the extermination of the Jewish population. This southern Russian city became the site of a massacre in August 1942, when members of the special commando 10a, part of Einsatzgruppe D annihilated the Jewish population of the city within three days. In the context of qualitative research undertaken in Rostov, 25 narrative interviews were conducted with citizens of Rostov from a range of age groups between September and November 2011. It was the aim of the interviews to record the existing narrative and individual memories of this crime and to compare and contrast these with the official culture of remembrance.
Sklavenarbeit und Gewalt. Die KZ-Außenlager
The detainees at the subcamps of Neuengamme concentration camp near Hamburg lived and worked under a broad range of conditions. Although the first two subcamps were established as early on as in 1941/1942, it was not until 1944 that all of northern Germany was covered. The Neuengamme concentration camp had more than 85 subcamps, to which the SS had brought about 40,000 detainees as slave workers for the German war effort by the end of 1944. Marc Buggeln has compared the subcamps and evaluated the significance of a range of factors such as labour conditions, racism and gender differences with regard to the concentration camp inmates' likelihood of survival. In this way, he was able to disprove some central assumptions made by concentration camp research to date, or at least to seriously curtail the general validity that had been ascribed to them. Finally, he describes the conditions for the perpetrators as well as the victims at hand of a selection of biographies.
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