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. 2017/2.

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

Download PDFDuring 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.

Download PDFDownload PDFThis paper outlines a historical and critical survey of the contribution of psychoanalysis and other ‘psycho-sciences’ to our contemporary understanding of Holocaust trauma. It argues that the theme of mass traumatisation effects originates in the use of psychiatric knowledge and procedures during the First World War. As part of the war machine, psychiatry had special functions in the mobilisation of the masses as well as in the treatment and rehabilitation of those soldiers who suffered from ‘shell shock’ and later developed ‘traumatic neurosis’ or ‘war neurosis’. The main task of psychiatrists at that time was to cure these soldiers as quickly and effectively as possible – in order to send them back to the same dangerous circumstances, which had caused their symptoms in the first place. In treating war neurotics, brutal punitive methods such as painful electric shocks were frequently used. Based on archival sources, and on the correspondence between Sigmund Freud and Sándor Ferenczi, the application of these methods is illustrated here through the example of a Hungarian military doctor, Viktor Gonda. The majority of army doctors regarded war neurosis as a character deficiency, a sign of a ‘feminine’ character. It was thought that this kind of ‘male hysteria’ could also affect ‘healthy’ soldiers, destroying their will, determination, patriotism, and heroism. By contrast, the psychoanalytic conception of war neurosis developed by Sándor Ferenczi in Hungary and by Karl Abraham and Ernst Simmel in Germany was intended to be a humanising alternative to the dominant, mainly ‘punishing’ and torturous procedures applied by mainstream military psychiatry. Psychoanalysts emphasised the importance of understanding the patient’s symptoms, assuming that their explanation originated in the patient’s life history and unconscious motives rather than exclusively in external, physical causes.  The psychoanalytic approach to war neurosis anticipated later debates on the nature of individual and collective psychological traumata. This paper surveys the impact of the First World War on the development of the theory and technique of psychoanalysis, including the concepts of Freud, Ferenczi, Melanie Klein, Abram Kardiner, and others. After the Second World War, psychoanalysis was preoccupied with the exploration of the ‘Nazi mind’, the specific psychological and characterological traits of war criminals, their supporters, and their collaborators. This paper argues that the existence of a Holocaust trauma as a separate group of symptoms was for a long time not really acknowledged.  e focus only shi ed from perpetrators to victims in the 1970s, due to the introduction of the diagnostic category of PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) into the vocabulary of psychoanalysis. This paper, however, argues that the concept of PTSD preserved, in some ways, the dominant discourse of First World War psychiatry, continuing, in a subtler way, to stigmatise or blame the victims.