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.
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.
Older Research either hardly paid any attention to Slovak antisemitism in the First Czechoslovak Republic (1918–1938) or regarded as a kind of preliminary stage to the Holocaust. In contrast, it is the intention of the present study to historicise the Slovak antisemitism of the interwar period. Therefore it aspires a sophisticated treatment, which focuses both on the political radicalisation of the Catholic as well as fascist milieus and the latent antisemitism of the Slovak society, respectively the ambivalent responses to antisemitism of the Czechoslovak judiciary and administrative organs. In this respect, the increasing invocation of the 'Jewish Question' since the end of the 1920s appears to be a symptom of the condition of Slovak politics and society (and by trend also of the Czechoslovak State), albeit it could fully unfold its destructive impact only after the annihilation of Czechoslovakia in an altered political context.
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.
Leonard Ehrlich: Geschätzt und gescholten. Benjamin Murmelstein in Wien 1938 –1943