This article outlines the principal directions of my research: It focuses on the interplay of antisemitism and fascism in the ideology of the legionary movement in inter-war Romania as well as on the virtual consensus on antisemitism that was established in the 1930s as a result of the support for the movement received from most of the representatives of the ‘new generation’ of Romanian intellectuals. This consensus was pivotal in desensitising the general population towards the plight of Romanian Jews and making it possible for the discriminatory measures to gradually escalate into outright policies of extermination. Thus my research demonstrates the responsibility held by the legionary movement even though they were not directly involved in the Romanian wartime Holocaust perpetrated by the Antonescu regime: The legionary movement nevertheless promoted an antisemitic discourse that was much more extreme than that of all its predecessors and contemporaries, advocating a radical exclusion with genocidal overtones. Moreover, while being as ideological and abstract as its Nazi counterpart, legionary antisemitism posited religion rather than race as the basis for the exclusion of the Jews in line with the ideology of a movement that presented itself as ‘spiritual’ and ‘Christian’. The legionary exclusion based on religion proved as violent and murderous as the one based on race, both before and during the movement‘s time in power. As such, the evidence from the Romanian case study can serve to nuance and even challenge existing interpretations that identify only racist antisemitism as genocidal.
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.
My 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.
Robert Jan van Pelt
Auschwitz, Holocaust-Denial, and the Irving Trial
Since the 1970s, Holocaust deniers have focused their attention especially on the issue of crematoria in Auschwitz, thinking that questioning the existence of these would enable them to deny the Holocaust itself. The Holocaust deniers' attacks against the evidence of the Auschwitz crematoria reached a dramatic apex during the infamous London court case David Irving against Deborah Lipstadt in the year 2000. Court-ordered expert Robert Jan van Pelt defended his 700 page report under cross examination for five days – the outcome was pathetic for David Irving.
The Dutch architectural historian's lecture in English focused on the background and developments of this historical court case.
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.
Raul Cârstocea: The Path to the Holocaust. Fascism and Antisemitism in Interwar Romania