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 PDFThe fate of the European Roma during the Holocaust, the murder of several hundreds of thousands of Roma and Sinti in the territories under control of the Third Reich – a genocide which by Roma and Sinti representatives is also referred to as 'Porrajimos' or 'Samusdripen' – now forms an accepted part of European historical discourse on the 20th century and has become the focal point of a new Europe-wide process of Roma identity formation. In its monstrosity and unprecedented brutality it is like a vast shadow cast upon the common history of Roma and Gadje alike, a memento of an unspeakably dehumanised past.

Historians have reconstructed the events that culminated in these murderous acts in great detail, mapping the increasingly radical acts of marginalisation and persecution of people labelled as 'Zigeuner' ('Gypsies') by the authorities. This marginalisation started during the Romantic period, when Europeans were told to see 'Gypsies' as fundamentally different and exotic – the 'last savages of Europe'. This, combined with the emerging 'science' of eugenics, which declared these differences to be genetically determined and therefore immutable, prepared the ground for their marginalisation and exclusion from society, based on pseudoscientific concepts.

A severe social crisis caused by the global economic crisis of the 1930s, aggravated by the lack of adequate social welfare systems in Central and Eastern Europe at the time, led to clashes between the Roma and non-Roma populations, especially in the formerly Hungarian, now Austrian, Burgenland region. This later provided the justification for the Nazi administration's racist policies against Roma and Sinti, which eventually culminated in genocide. Some key ingredients in this catastrophe may seem strangely familiar now, as we can again encounter them in Europe today. Looking at the policies that paved the way for the Nazi genocide of the 'Gypsies', it becomes clear that many of today's policies and administrative practices affecting Roma, especially in Eastern Europe, are not that new after all and have worrying echoes in the past.

SWL-Reader

Download PDFOmer Bartov's presentation addressed the way in which Ukrainians, Poles and Jews remember the Holocaust in the formerly multi-ethnic town of Buczacz, where Simon Wiesenthal was born (as was Omer Bartov's mother). Buczacz is located in what used to be the Austro-Hungarian province of Galicia, then became part of Poland's eastern lands and is now part of the Western Ukraine. For centuries, it was marked by its population's ethnic and religious diversity. During the time of the Second World War, the Nazis murdered the entire Jewish population; the Polish inhabitants fell victim to ethnic cleansing by Ukrainian nationalists and Soviet authorities. Omer Bartov used written and oral reports by victims and survivors in order to investigate the relationship between memory and history, between individual fates and grand historical processes of change. He argued for the healing effect of remembrance and coming to terms with the past. The presentation was accompanied by a wealth of pictures of Buczacz and of Omer Bartov's research activities in that city.

Events

Duschehubka

Download PDFThis text is the penultimate chapter of Zoltán Halasi's book Út az üres éghez (Road to an Empty Sky). With this work, which was first published in Hungarian, the author created a singular memorial to Polish-Jewish culture and its destruction. Setting out from the Yiddish Holocaust poem Dos lid funm ojsgehargetn jidischen folk by Itzhak Katzenelson, Halasi records what was lost in the Shoah in the course of nineteen compelling chapters. He takes on the grab of an art historian, a literary critic and a travel guide when he reports about a wooden synagogue and the Jewish quarter in Warsaw. In the role of a German banker, he illuminates the aims of the Nazi monetary policies, as a writer of SS brochures he highlights the absurdity of racism. Depicting a Selektion in the Warsaw ghetto, he shows the grim logic of compulsive acts in catastrophic situations, draws an image of the running of the extermination camp Treblinka. The cynical words of two German policemen provide an insight into the rituals of mass executions and introduce us to the craft of murder. The final chapter is an interplay of slithers of narrative by Jewish children on the run and by those who helped and hid them that borders on the unbearable.
The chapter reproduced on the following pages has three parts: Part one is a Treblinka railway station master's report to the Polish Home Army. In the second part, a former Jewish detainee who managed to escape from the extermination camp Treblinka gives a literary treatment of his arrival at the camp. The final part consists of an inner monologue by the Treblinka extermination camp's director of administration.

The book will shortly be published in Polish at the Nisza publishing company in Warsaw. The German-speaking public was first presented with the work on December 1, 2015 at the Simon Wiesenthal Conference 2015. The German translation by Éva Zádor and Heinrich Eisterer is in progress.

Zuzanna Dziuban (Hrsg.)

Mapping the ‚Forensic Turn‘: Engagements with Materialities of Mass Death in Holocaust Studies and Beyond

 

During recent decades, forensic investigation has become a standard response to the reality of mass graves resulting from genocides and various forms of political violence. From Argentina to Rwanda, from former Yugoslavia to Poland, the search for the sites of mass burial, the application of archaeological and forensic practices, and the use of advanced technologies to collect and analyse evidence have all played a major role in transforming former landscapes of violence into scenes of crime. Yet truth-finding is not the only driving force behind forensic investigations performed at the spaces marked by a difficult past: the issues of politics and justice are at stake, as are the dynamics of memory and mourning and of the future of post-conflict societies, framed through the prism of the relationships between the dead and the living. The diagnoses of the ‘forensic turn’ therefore open up a complex terrain shaped by the interplay of scientific protocols, political interest, ethical sensitivities, and materialities of mass death – bringing about a proliferation of practices and counter-practices, discourses and counterdiscourses, imageries and counter-imageries. Building upon this recognition, this book asks how the turn towards forensics both as a standardized practice in the search for and identification of bodies, as a paradigm shift in remembrance and as an emergent cultural sensitivity, extends beyond the sites where forensic science operates, and transforms the fields of social and human sciences, political activism, popular imagination, and art.


Born out of debates held during the international workshop Forensic Turn in Holocaust Studies? at the Vienna Wiesenthal Institute in June 2015, this books gathers contributions investigating theoretical, methodological, political and practical implications of the ‘forensic turn’ within and well beyond the (inter)disciplinary realm of Holocaust studies.

 

Wien 2018

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