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.
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.
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.
Marianne Hirsch/Leo Spitzer
Spaziergang in der Herrengasse. Straßenfotos aus dem jüdischen Czernowitz
Czernowitz was the Habsburg Empire's „Vienna of the East“; it had a lively German-speaking Jewish community, almost all of whom were persecuted or murdered during the time of the Second World War. Yet the memory of Cernowitz lives on, passed on as it is by survivors and their descendants “like a wonderful present“ and a „relentless curse“, as noted by Aharon Appelfeld. We find evidence of old Cernowitz in historical reports, memoirs, documents and literary works. These include impressive contributions by Cernowitz-born writers.
In their lecture, Marianne Hirsch and Leo Spitzer focussed primarily on materials from family albums and collections in order to tap into the world of Jewish Cernowitz before its destruction. In particular, they analysed street photographs depicting daily life which had been taken on the city's streets before the Second World War and during the occupation by Romanian fascists and their allies from Nazi Germany. What do these ordinary and apparently opaque images tell us about the rich and diverse past? We were astonished to discover that they tell and show us a lot in that they reveal both more and less than we had expected.
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.
Miloslav Szabó: Ein ‚antislowakischer' Oscar-Film? Zur Darstellung des Holocaust im tschechoslowakischen Film Obchod na korze