Editorial


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.

Articles

Download PDFMy 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. 

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During the first two decades following the Second World War, hundreds of thousands of migrants arrived in the United States of America from all parts of Europe, many of them having fled the Soviet occupation. Several hundred had been in service to Nazi Germany or other powers in league with the Third Reich before 1945: as state ministers, administrative officers of the German occupational forces, adjunct policemen or as guards at the concentration camps and extermination camps. In the late 1970s, the US Department of Justice established an Office for Special Investigations. It was their task to investigate alleged Nazi perpetrators, and, if applicable, to prosecute them for violation of the US immigration and naturalization laws. Their efforts resulted in the deportation from the United States of America of more than a hundred of these persons.

Peter Black recounted the story of this office from an insider's point of view. Beginning with an explanation of the problem of competence, he explained why it took so long for these cases to be initiated, and how it was possible that decades passed between the initiation of a deportation case and the actual deportation. He then went on to analyse a range of cases, described the required evidence and finally presented a discussion of selected individual cases.

Events

Duschehubka

Download PDFThis 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.

Die ungarische Zwangsarbeit in Wien, in den Jahren 1944/45, deren Spuren wir im Rahmen des Projekts „BEWEGT ERINNERN“ am 27. Mai 2014 freilegen wollten, ist eine Erinnerungsgeschichte, die innerhalb der Wiener Stadtgeschichte einen „blinden Fleck“ darstellt. Die Spuren dieser wichtigen Erinnerung offenbaren sich weder in der Stadtarchitektur noch im Stadtmobiliar auf eine lesbare Art und Weise, es existieren auch keine Erinnerungsorte, die unsere Aufmerksamkeit auf diesen Inhalt oder auf diese Identität lenken würden. Für die Wienerinnen und Wiener sind es womöglich Räume, welche in anderen Stadtgeschichten eine Rolle spielen, mit der betrachteten Epoche aber nicht mehr in Verbindung gebracht werden, da sie ja auch keine erkennbaren oder deutlichen „Zeichen“ oder „Spuren“ dieser Geschichte auf der Haut tragen. Aus diesem Grund ist es wichtig, eine Geschichte, eine Erinnerung, die sehr wohl noch besteht und präsent ist, auch wenn sie in der Textur der Stadt kaum mehr zu erkennen ist, wieder in die Erinnerung zu rufen, indem man an gewissen Orten dieser Geschichte gedenkt. Durch die Gedenkfahrt wurde also eine Veränderung des Stadtbildes angestrebt, indem Erinnerungsorte hinzugefügt wurden, um ein tieferes Verständnis von Räumen zu erlangen.

Die Idee einer Bustour durch Wien im Gedenken an ungarische Zwangsarbeiterinnen und Zwangsarbeiter 1944/45 bot die Gelegenheit, unsere, im Rahmen des Lehrgangs Social Design – Arts as Urban Innovation an der Universität für Angewandte Kunst theoretisch erarbeiteten Konzepte auch praktisch umzusetzen. Die Gedenktour wurde so zu einem Versuch, durch ein tieferes Verständnis von mental und real verschütteten und vergessenen Identitäten von Räumen, die individuelle Rekonstruktion eines Stadtbildes zu bewirken, indem wir diesem neue Erinnerungsorte hinzufügten. Es ging um einen Prozess, der eine persönliche Aneignung der Stadt und ihrer Identität anregt, aber auch umsetzt.

 

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