Thomas Mann is the single best representative of German culture to authenticate the Federal Republic of Germany's foundation narrative. As an exile, he was beyond any suspicion that he might have in any way supported the Nazi regime. As an American residing in Switzerland, he was more easily included in the Western camp than, for example, his brother Heinrich. As a Nobel price winner and internationally respected author, he embodied the German cultural nation. As a member of the grandfathers' generation, he represented a better Germany with traditions that reached far beyond January 1933 – traditions which the Federal Republic wanted to latch onto. The desire to divorce this older tradition from the Nazi past via the person of Thomas Mann is demonstrated more than anything by the author's academic reception. His treatment in popular culture – the transposition of his works into the mass medium film – was obviously even more effective, however. This lecture addressed how the Jewish figures in his novels and novellas were successively made to disappear or vanished in the works' post-war film treatments.
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.
My research – through a history of the Budapest building managers (in Hungarian házmester) – asks to what degree agency mattered amongst a group of ordinary Hungarians who are commonly perceived as bystanders to the Holocaust. I analyse the building managers’ wartime actions in light of their decades-long struggle for a higher salary, social appreciation and their aspiration to authority. Instead of focusing on solely the usual pre-war antisemitism, I take into consideration other factors from the interwar period, such as in this paper the tipping culture. In my PhD thesis, I claimed that the empowerment of the building managers happened as a side-effect of anti-Jewish legislation. Thanks to their social networks and key positions, these people became intermediaries between the authorities and Jewish Hungarian citizens, which gave them much wider latitude than other so-called bystanders. That is to say that an average Budapest building manager could bridge the structural holes between the ghettoised Jewish Hungarians and other elements of 1944 Hungarian society as a result of his or her social network. This article argues that the actions of so-called bystanders in general, and the relationship between Budapest building managers and Jewish Hungarians in particular, can only be understood by placing them in a longue durée. Furthermore, it suggests that it is impossible – and unhelpful – to allocate building managers to a single category such as ‘bystander’. Individual building managers both helped and hindered Jewish Hungarians, depending on circumstances, pre-existing relationships, and the particular point in time.
Holocaust and Genocide Studies emerged as a new discipline during the 1990s, particularly so in the Anglo-Saxon world. This development also established a new culture of remembrance and treatment of the collective past and public apologies for historical crimes. Since then, several countries have institutionalized Holocaust memorial days and similar institutions in a range of formats, several governments have apologized for historical injustices in various manners. Yet, there remains the question of a precise definition of a genocide – and in what way the term is connected to the Holocaust, the murder of the European Jews. How are these two related? What is the social function of such official or semi-official remembrances, and what is their role in society?
In his lecture, Dirk Moses endeavoured to clarify whether the insights gained from the history of the Holocaust and other genocides in general – namely, the imperative of 'tolerance' – really does provide an adequate answer to this challenge.
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.
Yahya Elsaghe: Thomas Mann ohne Juden. Vergangenheitspolitik im westdeutschen Nachkriegskino