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. 

SWL-Reader

Download PDFBetween 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.

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.

Download PDFDownload PDFThe problem of grave-robbery at the sites of the former Nazi extermination camps in occupied Poland has received increasing academic interest recently. Rediscovered in historical research and brought to public attention by the publication of Jan Tomasz Gross’s and Irena Grudzińska-Gross’s Golden Harvest (2012), this practice, undertaken by local villagers searching for gold and other valuables allegedly hidden among and in the human remains of the camps’ victims, has since been engulfed in controversy around its meaning and social causes. At the same time, the objects stolen from the mass graves at the sites of the extermination camps have begun to resurface – sometimes they are even brought back to the sites from which they were taken. Focussing specifically on the ‘Aktion Reinhardt’ extermination camp at Bełżec, this paper traces the material afterlives of the stolen objects and the transformations of the affective, political and symbolic economies structuring their handling. Providing an interpretative gaze on the circumstances of their theft, their integration into the daily lives of the inhabitants of Bełżec, and finally their return, this paper brings to the fore the affective afterlives of those objects, and investigates their potential to challenge the cultural economies of science surrounding practices of grave-robbery at the sites of the former Nazi camps in post-war Poland.