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 PDFThis 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.

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

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 PDFThe Royal Hungarian Gendarmerie was one of the most important state institutions be­ tween 1881 and 1945. Its task was to preserve law and order in the countryside, to prevent peasant uprisings and Socialist agitation in the villages. In 1944, it also became the task the gendarmerie to concentrate and deport the Hungarian Jews to Auschwitz. The contempo­rary documents so far researched as well as the papers of the people’s court trials seem to clearly support the supposition that the gendarmerie, from the lowliest patrols to the gen­darmerie district headquarters and to the detective subdivisions, readily took part in the collection and then the deportation of Jews. If deemed necessary, the trainees of the gen­darmerie schools and training battalions assisted in the detection and collection.
The first question I attempt to answer in this paper is why Adolf Eichmann and his ‘special­ ists’ primarily trusted the Hungarian gendarmerie in the spring and summer of 1944, when the Jews in Hungary were deprived of their property, herded into ghettoes and collection camps, and finally deported. This fundamental question thus relates to the crime, i.e. the deportation, and the role the gendarmerie played in the Holocaust. Second, I discuss the size of the gendarmerie, the number of those participating in the deportation, their connection to other agencies, above all the police and the administration, as well as their attitudes to­ ward the persecution of Jews and to deportations. Third, I investigate whether the gendarmes were cruel, as most of the survivors claim, or, on the contrary, whether they helped the per­secuted, whether they protested and perhaps refused to obey orders, as former gendarmes claim, and as some people in Hungary are still trying to have the public believe. Finally, I investigate what they knew, what they could have known about the destination of the depor­tation trains, and about the true, final end of the deportations.
My other fundamental question relates to the punishment, to the accountability. What was the extent of the gendarmerie’s punishment, and how did it proceed? Was it a political show, or was their participation in the deportation the real reason for their punishment? How was evidence collected during the proceedings of the screening committees, the people’s prose­cutor and the people’s court? Was torture resorted to, were the charges based on statements of witnesses, and/or were contemporary documents also attached to the indictments? The comparison to the criminal proceedings of other war criminals will be another important aspect of analysis.