Since the 1950s, the Republic of Austria insisted it had settled all the claims of its Jewish citizens regarding their properties stolen under the Nazi regime. From the late 1980s, with the help of personal recollections and case studies, it became ever clearer that this was often not the case, and that the Austrian authorities had in many instances – often deliberately – handled matters of restitution carelessly. Many losses were not addressed in Austrian restitution and compensation measures. In the course of the re-evaluation of the role of Austrian citizens in the Nazi era which took place in the 1990s, and in the wake of the Washington Agreement of 2001, a General Settlement Fund for Victims of National Socialism was established. Its purpose was to bring about a comprehensive resolution to open questions of compensation and to acknowledge Austria’s moral responsibility for losses of assets suffered by the victims of the Nazi regime in Austria between 1938 and 1945 in the form of voluntary payments. This article describes the inconsistencies and ordeals an applicant is confronted with in the course of a justified claim for restitution, based on personal experiences, but presented in a scholarly framework.
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.
Der russische Blick auf die Shoah
Both during the Soviet era and after its collapse, there has been no room for Holocaust remembrance in Russia's collective memory; memorials and textbooks only marginally touch on the topic. In 2008, quantitative research across Russia investigated the relationship between tolerance and Holocaust knowledge within the Russian population and concluded that the majority of Russians were not aware of the Holocaust, its victims and their numbers. Considering the fact that the current territory of Russia includes at least 400 sites of perpetration of the genocide of European and Soviet Jews, these results urge the question of the causes for this suppression.
The city of Rostov-on-Don served as an example in order to address the question of how people now remember the former site of the extermination of the Jewish population. This southern Russian city became the site of a massacre in August 1942, when members of the special commando 10a, part of Einsatzgruppe D annihilated the Jewish population of the city within three days. In the context of qualitative research undertaken in Rostov, 25 narrative interviews were conducted with citizens of Rostov from a range of age groups between September and November 2011. It was the aim of the interviews to record the existing narrative and individual memories of this crime and to compare and contrast these with the official culture of remembrance.
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.
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.
Paul Weindling: “That’s not fair, Daddy”. On Being a Second and Third-Generation Applicant to the Austrian General Settlement Fund