This paper offers an analysis of the activities of the communist-dominated Fédération Internationale des Résistants (International Federation of Resistance Movements, FIR), the interational umbrella organisation of associations of victims of Nazi persecution from both Eastern and Western Europe between the late 1980s and early 1990s. During this time, the collapse of the Soviet Bloc led to a deep crisis for the Eastern European organisations like the Polish Związek Bojowników o Wolność i Demokrację (Union of Fighters for Freedom and Democracy) representing the former anti-fascist resistance fighters and political prisoners of Nazi concentration camps, which had been part of the communist power apparatus, and therefore of FIR. The organisation, which had been mired in growing financial difficulties for at least two decades, then lost much of its influence and of its potential to spread its message among the public. Nevertheless, FIR tried to maintain its activities with a special focus on dealing with right-wing extremism, the preservation of the rights and pensions of former resistance fighters, a commitment to peace and disarmament, as well as to the politics of memory.
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.
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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.
There is a paradox saying in contemporary Russia that a country's past cannot be predicted: the image of the Russian or Soviet past is always influenced by the interpretation of the current political situation. In order to be able to understand why Russia is once again in the smothering hold of an “unpredictable past” and why one's attitude to Stalin is still, 62 years after his death, the sole measure for a person's position on democracy and liberal values, we must take a closer look at the social conditions during the second half of the 1980s. This paper addresses that task. Its particular focus is the construction of an official state ideology from contradictory historical images by the ruling elites in contemporary Russia.
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.
Maximilian Becker: The Fédération Internationale des Résistants (FIR). Its activities during the Breakdown of the Soviet Bloc