Articles

  • “Was ich den Juden war, wird eine kommende Zeit besser beurteilen...” Myth and Memory at Theodor Herzl’s Original Gravesite in Vienna

    (Issue 2016/1)

    Download PDFDownload PDFTheodor Herzl is mostly remembered as the founder of the Zionist movement and a significant forebear of the State of Israel, where his memory thrives today. This article posits Herzl’s original gravesite in Döbling, Vienna, as instrumental to the construction of Herzl’s legacy through the first part of the twentieth century, when it was used by Jewish community functionaries and Zionist organisations to mobilise a variety of political agendas. By contrast to Herzl’s new burial site in Jerusalem, the now empty grave in Döbling constitutes a powerful alternative lieu de memoire, a counterbalance to the manner in which Herzl’s life and memory are conceived in Israel.

  • „A Naye Yidishe Heym in Nidershlezye“. Polnische Shoah-Überlebende in Wrocław (1945-1949). Eine Fallstudie

    (Issue 2014/1)

    Download PDFDownload PDFHeavy fighting around 'fortress Breslau' resulted in the German surrender on May 6, 1945 and almost completely destroyed the city. The following three years saw the 'relocation' of the city's entire German population to the West. It was the beginning of the city's great transfer period, which inevitably caused the losses of homes and identity crises: it included the ‚resettlement‘ of the German inhabitants, the settlement of Poles, the forced resettlement of the Ukrainian population, the expulsion of the returned members of the German-Jewish community as well as the directed settlement of Polish Shoah survivors. Breslau became Wrocław: the city was rid of German traces, utterly Polonized and, together with the entire area of Lower Silesia, celebrated as a „recovered territory“. The Polish settlers who surged into the city immediately after the end of the war, including Polish Jewish survivors, were supposed to find a new home there. This proved to be too great a challenge under the circumstances of the immediate post-war era: Wrocław was immersed in chaos and destruction, the presence of its German inhabitants was still apparent throughout the city (at least until 1948), the reorganization of the Polish state structures as well as the political consolidation of power was only just underway. Moreover, other factors also contributed to the demolition of initial prospects that Jewish life would be established in post-war Poland. This contribution aimed to analyse and illuminate these factors at hand of the example of Wrocław.

  • „Es ist noch nicht vorbei, wir bleiben deutsch und treu“. Nationalsozialismus und Postnazismus in der Fernsehkabarettsendung 'Das Zeitventil'

    (Issue 2014/1)

    Download PDFDownload PDFThe Austrian television cabaret show Das Zeitventil was produced from 1963 to 1968 by the national Austrian Broadcasting Company under the artistic direction of the cabaret artist and musician Gerhard Bronner. The show saw itself as a decidedly political cabaret and expressed in numerous sketches and chansons its critique on current political events and social developments. In different contexts it also dealt with the issues antisemitism, National Socialism and the Holocaust in post-Nazi Austrian society, which was very progressive and unusual during this period of time in Austria. With reference to current socio-political events and media debates taboo subjects of the Second Republic were portrayed with the means of satire and parody: the failed denazification after 1945 and the consequent continuing effects of a widespread antisemitic Nazi ideology in Austria. The comedians parodied politicians who advocated for the amnesty and the concerns of former Nazis, caricatured German national and antisemitic individuals and organizations, themed the failed denazification and debunked antisemitic resentments and trivialisations of the Holocaust. However, the focus of the cabaret was, as selected examples will show, less on a confrontation with Nazi crimes, in particular the mass murder of the European Jews, but rather in demonstrating personnel continuities of former Nazis and their unwavering Nazi sentiments.

  • „Facing a crisis unparalleled in history“. Jüdische Reaktionen auf den Holocaust aus New York, 1940 bis 1945

    (Issue 2014/2)

    Download PDFDownload PDFThis contribution describes and analyses the activities of two expert committees on Jewish politics and analysis of the present age, which were established in New York in 1940 and 1941. The Research Institute on Peace and Post-War Problems and the Institute of Jewish Affairs were meeting places for Jewish people who worked on political strategy papers on how to address the apocalyptic presence of the extermination of the European Jews, based on their range of experiences during the interwar period. They were modelled on the tradition of East European minority protection policies and the Jewish defence against antisemitism in the Weimar Republic; it was their aim to debate the possibilities for saving the Jews as well as the future of Jewish existence. Their activities resulted in the collection of wide-ranging documentation and many reports on the reality of Nazism. These documents are significant sources of information on the immediate effect of the events on contemporaries and bear witness to the attempts to act, understand, report, remember the victims and at the same time design a new Jewish life after the catastrophe in America while war and extermination were still going on.

  • Antisemitism and Catholicism in the Interwar Period. The Jesuits in Austria, 1918–1938

    (Issue 2016/1)

    Download PDFDownload PDFThe paper examines the attitudes of the Austrian Jesuits to antisemitism in the interwar period. This question is highly relevant for the study of antisemitism and the Holocaust, because of the strong influence of Catholicism within Austrian society and the prominent role played by Austrians in the Holocaust. The scientific literature has argued that the Austrian context was of central importance to the formation of both antisemitic and anti-antisemitic views among Catholics. However, the dynamics and internal nuances within high ecclesiastical circles have remained understudied. The present research indicates the permanence of an entrenched anti-Jewish tradition as well as the start of a novel reconsideration of this very tradition within the Jesuit Order in Austria. By analyzing tensions in the positions of the Austrian Jesuits, this research contributes to a better understanding of the continuity and rupture in antisemitism in Austria in the period immediately prior to the Holocaust.

  • Auf dem Weg zum Holocaust? Der slowakische Antisemitismus in der Ersten Tschechoslowakischen Republik

    (Issue 2015/2)

    Download PDFDownload PDFOlder Research either hardly paid any attention to Slovak antisemitism in the First Czechoslovak Republic (1918–1938) or regarded as a kind of preliminary stage to the Holocaust. In contrast, it is the intention of the present study to historicise the Slovak antisemitism of the interwar period. Therefore it aspires a sophisticated treatment, which focuses both on the political radicalisation of the Catholic as well as fascist milieus and the latent antisemitism of the Slovak society, respectively the ambivalent responses to antisemitism of the Czechoslovak judiciary and administrative organs. In this respect, the increasing invocation of the 'Jewish Question' since the end of the 1920s appears to be a symptom of the condition of Slovak politics and society (and by trend also of the Czechoslovak State), albeit it could fully unfold its destructive impact only after the annihilation of Czechoslovakia in an altered political context.

  • Der russische Blick auf die Shoah

    (Issue 2015/2)

    Download PDFDownload PDFBoth 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.

  • Die antisemitischen Ausschreitungen im Berliner Scheunenviertel 1923. Zur Berichterstattung der Wiener Tagespresse

    (Issue 2015/2)

    Download PDFDownload PDFThis contribution uses a case study in order to establish the fundamental theses for a research project on the mass media representation of migration in Vienna and Berlin during the interwar period. What knowledge about migratory movement and experiences was spread in the public spheres of both metropolises via the daily press? The institutionalised production and distribution of knowledge made the press a decisive contributor to what was socially accepted to express and visible, to the definition of topics and therefore the collective perception of social contrasts: the media did no merely reflect, but also produced social realities. The case study refers to strongly antisemitic excesses in the Scheunenviertel in Berlin, a district that was largely inhabited by migrants, in early November 1923. It investigates the depiction and interpretation of these events in the Viennese press against a two-fold backdrop and context: the Danubian city's role as the destiny of a massive migration movement that had developed since the collapse of the Habsburg empire and partly even before, as well as Vienna's predominant antisemitism.

  • Die Anwesenheit des Abwesenden. Nostalgie und das kulturelle Gedächtnis böhmischmährischer Landjuden vor und nach der Shoah

    (Issue 2016/2)

    Download PDFDownload PDFThis 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.

  • Die Beziehung zwischen der Pester Israelitischen Gemeinde und der IKG Wien. Vom ‚Anschluß’ bis zum Beginn der Deportationen 1941

    (Issue 2015/1)

    Download PDFDownload PDFThe Relations between the Jewish Community of Pest and the Israelitische Kultusgemeinde Wien (IKG) from the 'Anschluß' until the Beginning of the Deportations, 1938-1941 In 1938 the Jewish Community of Pest (PIH)] and the Israelitische Kultusgemeinde Wien were the two largest Jewish communities of Central Europe. By 1938, the two Jewish communities had cultivated strong relationships with one another for over a century. However, the nature of the relationships between the two Jewish communities had changed drastically in 1938.

    As a consequence of the increasingly worsening official anti-Jewish discrimination, ties of social and legal aid had exclusively replaced any other kinds of relationships. Religious life, chiefly issues of kashrut, social aid for members of the community, as well as Emigration from Austria after the 'Anschluß', and issues concerning one’s Hungarian citizenship after the anti-Jewish legislation had been central to the mutual work of extending social and legal aid to one another.

    A systematic study of the relationships between the two largest Central European Jewish communities between 1938 and 1941 will enable us to understand how these increasingly adversely influenced central institutions of Jewish life attempted to assist their members and one another during the first phase of the Holocaust. To show how the two communities collaborated and tried to help each other is crucial, since these Jewish institutions are routinely portrayed even in historical works as isolationist bodies that were utterly uninvolved and uninterested in the problems of the Jewish world in general. The study will explore how their ties between 1938 and 1941 (until the beginning of the mass deportation of Viennese Jews) influenced the behaviour of the two communities and their members both in the later phases of the Holocaust and its aftermath. The ties of legal and social aid provided a viable model as well as a context for later patterns of relationships within and also without the Jewish world. 

  • Die Heeresgruppe Mitte. Ihre Rolle bei der Deportation weißrussischer Kinder nach Deutschland im Frühjahr 1944

    (Issue 2016/1)

    Download PDFDownload PDFBased on German and Belorussian archives as well as on testimonies, this paper examines the deportation of Belorussian children as forced labourers to Germany by units of Army Group Centre in 1944. It analyses the decision-making process, the imprisonment of thousands of children, their deportation, employment in Germany, the role of Belorussian collaborators, and finally the liberation of the children by the Red Army. By focussing on the participation of German military units in deporting child forced labourers, the article sheds light on the contemporary and post-war web of lies to create and maintain the myth of the ‘clean’ Wehrmacht.

  • Frühe Werke der Erinnerung an den Holocaust in Siebenbürgen

    (Issue 2015/1)

    Download PDFDownload PDFThe terrible details of the tragedy of Jewry in the northern part of Transylvania, which had been annexed to Hungary after 1940, emerged even in the last months of the Second World War, when the essence and events of the genocide were known in ever wider circles. As awareness of the events first emerged, literary and artistic works were also published in Transylvania between 1945 and 1949 that depicted the cruelties of the Shoah and at the same time aimed to raise a lasting monument for the Jewish communities that had been destroyed. These early works of Holocaust remembrance made a considerable contribution to retaining the mass murder in people's consciousness and turning a young generation's awareness to the terrible heritage of Nazism later on, when, during the decades of consolidation of communism, all spheres of life were submerged in a “great silence”.

  • Judging the Past. The Use of the Trials against the Members of the Gestapo in Belgium as a Source for Historical Research

    (Issue 2014/2)

    Download PDFDownload PDFAcademic historians have an ambiguous relationship with the use of documents produced in the context of criminal investigations. On the one hand, these documents provide an avalanche of information, often giving a voice to historical actors that would otherwise stay hidden in classical top-down history. On the other hand, academics denounce such documents as inherently biased and thus unfit for use in an ‘objective’ reconstruction of the past. This problem’s urgency increases in the context of a politically tense period such as the immediate aftermath of the Second World War. In post-war Belgium, military courts were responsible for bringing to justice both German officials and Belgian collaborators.

    This paper identifies the methodological possibilities and problems associated with the use of the documents these courts amassed to this end with regard to research on the Holocaust and the German occupation of Belgium and to history-writing in general. Among others, elements such as the influence of the internal workings of the military court and the legal framework in which it had to operate, the similarities and differences in how historians and prosecutors go about their research, and how defence strategies employed by suspects/perpetrators as well as witnesses/victims twisted their hearings and testimonies, are addressed. The paper concludes that although judicial sources come with inherent limitations, they can be employed in academic history as long as attention is paid to the specific context in which they were produced and they are subjected to proper critical reading.

  • Oral History Collections on the Holocaust in Hungary

    (Issue 2014/2)

    Download PDFDownload PDFThis paper focuses on Hungary, where the most unmerciful and the fastest destruction took place in the course of the European Holocaust. Even though it was indeed ‘the most unmerciful’ and ‘the fastest’, Holocaust research still fails to take a prominent role in Hungarian historiography. The archival collections do not constitute an inherent part of the Hungarian national historical heritage. That is to say that the experiences of both the Holocaust and the Roma Genocide have not yet become part of collective knowledge; nor have they been able to shape collective identities.

    This paper seeks to explore this ignorance through an analysis of existing digital oral history collections on the Holocaust in Hungary. The collections will appear in the order of their creation and will be discussed on the basis of questions such as who supported the collection and for what reason, how much research was done or what results they produced; we will also address whether the collections were established for museological, educational, scientific or tourism-stimulating purposes. The paper identifies three main reasons for the ignorance: First, it argues that – after the regime changes 1989/90 – while coming to terms with the memory of Nazism and autochthonous authoritarian regimes was one of the challenges of Eastern European societies, this process was competing with and retarded by the other challenge, namely the coming to terms with the communist system. Second, it states that the status of the research on the Holocaust and on the Roma Genocide is highly influenced by the actual social, cultural and political environment, while, third, we argue that one reason for that is the conservative attitude of European historiography.

  • Pleading for Cadavers. Medical Students at the University of Vienna and the Study of Anatomy

    (Issue 2015/2)

    Download PDFDownload 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.

  • Pogrome in Polen 1918-1920 und 1945/46. Auslöser, Motive, Praktiken der Gewalt

    (Issue 2015/1)

    Download PDFDownload PDFThe paper focuses on the fundamental aspects of my dissertation project: triggers of pogroms, dynamics of violence and the role of the respective emerging statehood as well as the perpetrators’ self-perception. In both reference periods, pogrom violence referred closely to the establishment of Polish statehood, even though this happened under divergent circumstances. Both phases involved exceptionally large numbers of pogroms. In both cases profound socio-political ruptures and paradigm shifts took place, where the need to create enemies was tremendous. An examination of the perpetrators’ verbal utterances and actions during and after the pogrom allows to identify their symbolic reference points, which express antisemitic stereotypes and show how the pogromists defined their relations towards state authorities. The project will offer insights about prejudices during transitional phases, the dynamics of pogroms and how narratives of violence are preserved. The pogroms are reconstructed by means of eyewitness accounts, military records and court files.

  • Remembering Interactions. Interpreting Survivors’ Accounts of Interactions in Nazi-Occupied Poland

    (Issue 2016/1)

    Download PDFDownload PDFThis paper examines how memory sources are vital to learning about and interpreting children’s interactions in Nazi-occupied Poland. In particular, it focuses on the relevance of testimonies and memoirs to understanding hidden Jewish children’s contacts with other children while they were living under a false identity. Because these personal memory sources reveal many day-to-day situations not present in other types of documents and sources, they are often the only avenue through which we can learn about how Jewish children interacted with other children they came into contact with while in hiding. Two methods and situations receive particular attention:

    1. collecting as many resources as possible for a specific case study on Jewish street children in occupied Warsaw, and
    2. interpreting a variety of sources from diverse cases to find patterns of interactions that took place throughout Nazi-occupied Poland.

  • Sowing the Seeds of Hate. The Antisemitism of the Orthodox Church in the Interwar Period

    (Issue 2016/1)

    Download PDFDownload PDFThe present article is focused on the antisemitic mindset of several prominent Orthodox clergymen and theologians associated with the Romanian Iron Guard and the radicalisation of Orthodox nationalism under the impact of fascism. During a wave of right-wing ideological radicalisation, Orthodox clergymen and theologians shifted from understanding the Jew according to the patristic theology and canon law to a more confessional, exclusivist trend of theology. It also discusses the Romanian Orthodox Church’s position towards the development of an antisemitic theology and the implementation of this theology during the Holocaust by the Orthodox priests affiliated with the Romanian Orthodox Exarchate in Transnistria. 

  • The “Double” of Erika B. Sexual Conduct and Honour in a Hungarian Race Defilement Case

    (Issue 2016/2)

    Download PDFDownload PDFThis paper introduces the everyday realities of ‘race defilement’ practices in early 1940s Hungary through a case study. I argue that race defilement was an integral part of the Hungarian őrségváltás, ‘the changing of the guards’, in which the so-called ‘Christian’ middle class tried to push their ‘Jewish’1 male rivals away from economic and political opportunities and this included access to ‘honourable, Christian women’. The case of a well-to-do and influential lawyer exemplifies that the judicial system was especially keen on enforcing őrségváltás by handing out punitive measures for Jews who were in a position of power and therefore seemed more of a threat to the non-Jewish elite. The case study also shows that playing with the gendered notion of ‘honour’ and with the resources still available to Jews in Horthy-era Hungary in the early 1940s, the outcome of cases could be swung. I here employ an emotional history approach and Michel Foucault’s concept of the psychological-ethical ‘double’ to indicate how emotions and readily available stereotypes were used by the actors of this particular case for various, often game-changing purposes.

  • The Fédération Internationale des Résistants (FIR). Its activities during the Breakdown of the Soviet Bloc

    (Issue 2016/2)

    Download PDFDownload PDFThis paper offers an analysis of the activities of the communist-dominated Fédération Internationale des Résistants (International Federation of Resistance Movements, FIR), the interational umbrella organisation of associations of victims of Nazi persecution from both Eastern and Western Europe between the late 1980s and early 1990s. During this time, the collapse of the Soviet Bloc led to a deep crisis for the Eastern European organisations like the Polish Związek Bojowników o Wolność i Demokrację (Union of Fighters for Freedom and Democracy) representing the former anti-fascist resistance fighters and political prisoners of Nazi concentration camps, which had been part of the communist power apparatus, and therefore of FIR. The organisation, which had been mired in growing financial difficulties for at least two decades, then lost much of its influence and of its potential to spread its message among the public. Nevertheless, FIR tried to maintain its activities with a special focus on dealing with right-wing extremism, the preservation of the rights and pensions of former resistance fighters, a commitment to peace and disarmament, as well as to the politics of memory.