This paper deals with mostly published memories of Bohemian and Moravian Jews who were born and grew up in villages and small rural towns in the second half of the nineteenth or in the first decade of the twentieth century and who wrote down their histories before or after the Shoah. The first memories, mainly autobiographical fiction, recounting the end of the nineteenth century, were largely a reaction to the process of urbanisation which led to an important migration of Jews to the cities. After 1918, amateur historiography became important in the remembrance of rural Jewish life and was often triggered by feelings of nostalgia. Both forms of cultural memory – (partly autobiographical) fiction and popular historiography – also framed the patterns of remembering rural Jews after the Shoah. Nostalgia was often expressed in connection with sensation, for example in descriptions of religious traditions and habits. In contrast to the testimonies written before the Shoah the ambivalent longing for a place was now overlaid with the irreversible loss of people, the authors’ mourning of their lost relatives, friends and neighbours, and with the emptiness of the remembered places.
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.
In Hungary, official memory and history discourses often distinguish between ‘Jews’ and ‘Hungarians’, harking back to the Horthy-era concept of the ‘Christian national’ state. This dichotomy clashes with modern ideas of citizenship and acts as a carrier of antisemitism. This lecture analyses the role of political authority in fostering integration or exclusion over a long time span. It begins with the attitudes of those holding political power in the Kingdom of Hungary in the Middle Ages, when the distinction between Jews and Christians was based on religious affiliation. In particular, two processes will be examined: one leading to increased integration, granting protection and rights, and the other promoting segregation, demonisation and hostility. The lecture will then focus on key moments in modern history, exploring the functions of these two contradictory but related processes. It will finally tackle the question of the role of the state in (dis)continuities between medieval exclusion and modern antisemitism.
This 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.
Ines Koeltzsch: Die Anwesenheit des Abwesenden. Nostalgie und das kulturelle Gedächtnis böhmischmährischer Landjuden vor und nach der Shoah