Essays

  • “2,000 Jews Have Registered So Far”. Historiography and the Holocaust in Rostov-on-Don

    (Issue 2016/2)

    Download PDFDownload PDFRostov-on-Don is known for being the site of the largest massacre during the Holocaust in contemporary Russia and witnessed the annihilation of Soviet Russia’s third-largest pre-war Jewish community within only a few days. It is considered the Russian Babi Yar by some Russian historians. Yet, outside of Russia, the city’s tragic past is hardly known. In August 1942, a massacre was committed here by Sonderkommando 10a of Einsatzgruppe D. The numbers of victims of the mass atrocity diverge in the literature, in some cases considerably. A conservative estimate is that 15,000–18,000 Jewish men, women, and children were murdered within only three days on the outskirts of Rostov, near the Zmievka colony. Some scholars speak of even higher victim numbers. Nevertheless, the atrocity has not received much scholarly attention. The events in Rostov are but one example of the escalation that Hitler’s Judenpolitik had undergone between the beginning of ‘Operation Barbarossa’ on 22 June 1941 and the summer of 1942. It illustrates that it is vital to bring together all existing sources, including perpetrator documents, records of post-war trials, as well as Soviet files, because a one-sided focus on perpetrator documents in previous Western studies on Rostov does not allow for a full understanding of the scale and the course of events, as this article aims to demonstrate.

  • Antijüdische Provokationen. Amtsberichte zur politischen Radikalisierung in der ČSR am Vorabend des Zweiten Weltkriegs

    (Issue 2016/1)

    Download PDFDownload PDFGenerally, historians, social scientists and political analysts regard the First Czechoslovak Republic (1918-1938) as a haven of democracy and an island of ethnic and religious tolerance amidst authoritarian and antisemitic regimes. However, recent in-depth research shows a more differentiated image and reveals that antisemitism and authoritarian mind-sets were deeply embedded in the political culture of the country, especially outside of the Bohemian Lands. This is not only true for opposition parties of the far right, but in some respects also for those supportive of the multi-ethnic state, as well as the judiciary system, and the public prosecution. With the help of two official documents, this essay suggests that anti-democratic, antisemitic and authoritarian tendencies were already evident during the First Republic. This was apparent in the state bureaus and agencies in the independent state of Slovakia, before the dissolution of Czechoslovakia in 1938.

  • Story for J.

    (Issue 2016/1)

    Download PDFDownload PDFIn late 2013, I was a visiting researcher at the University of California, Los Ange- les. By pure chance, a local professor put me in touch with the granddaughter of a Dutch member of the Jewish Territorialist movement, which looked for places of settlement for Jews outside of Pallestine until well into the 1950s. What was more, the woman’s mother – the territorialist’s daughter – was still alive, aged 96! What followed was a remarkable visit to the two women’s Los Angeles home. Afterwards, I put some thoughts and reflections to paper, without academic intentions, but as part of a letter to a close friend.

    The story recently resurfaced in my thoughts while I was working on an article about Jewish Territorialism’s Dutch connection, and this regenerated some unresolved questions. I posed these questions to my colleagues at the Vienna Wiesenthal Institute during a recurring internal sources and methodology workshop. I was thrilled to find myself as part of a fruitful and thought-provoking exchange.