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.
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 paper offers a close reading of a memorandum submitted by the medical students at the University of Vienna in January 1924. In the document, the students vividly described a crisis caused by insufficient supply of the so called medical cadavers which disturbed the training of future physicians. In order to solve the crisis effectively, the students pled for introducing new procedures that forced transfer of cadavers of all patients who had passed away either in hospitals, other institutions or private houses who had not been claimed by family members. Remarkably, the 1924 memorandum underscored not only the urgency of the crisis that required an immediate solution but also the non-partisan character of the appeal, signed by the students of the First and Second Institutes of Anatomy "with no difference of party affiliation". It underplayed the presence of anti-Semitism at the University of Vienna and the hostility against visibility of Jewish students at the Medical Department. The paper suggests that the memorandum ought to be understood in the context of the so-called cadaver affair at other universities in Central and Eastern Europe.
The network of camps that eventually covered almost all of Europe under the management of the SS was a firm component of the national socialist system of terror and defined the Nazi regime in its essence. From the British channel island Alderney to the Soviet Union and from the Baltic to Greece, there was hardly a place in the Nazi sphere of power without one form or another of such a camp. The names of the large concentration and extermination camps have today become synonyms for Nazi state terror, and are perfect metaphors of terror, dehumanisation and racist mass murder. Paradoxically, however, this development at the same time saw the erasure of the traces of those countless small camps in the system: the network that made the terror possible in the first place down to its last branch. They have been lost from Europe's cultural memory.
Wolfgang Benz provides a systematic presentation of this knowledge, making it accessible again on the basis of the nine volume standard oeuvre on the history of Nazi concentration camps which he published together with Barbara Distel.
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.
Katharina Friedla: „A Naye Yidishe Heym in Nidershlezye“. Polnische Shoah-Überlebende in Wrocław (1945-1949). Eine Fallstudie