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 PDFMy 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. 

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During the first two decades following the Second World War, hundreds of thousands of migrants arrived in the United States of America from all parts of Europe, many of them having fled the Soviet occupation. Several hundred had been in service to Nazi Germany or other powers in league with the Third Reich before 1945: as state ministers, administrative officers of the German occupational forces, adjunct policemen or as guards at the concentration camps and extermination camps. In the late 1970s, the US Department of Justice established an Office for Special Investigations. It was their task to investigate alleged Nazi perpetrators, and, if applicable, to prosecute them for violation of the US immigration and naturalization laws. Their efforts resulted in the deportation from the United States of America of more than a hundred of these persons.

Peter Black recounted the story of this office from an insider's point of view. Beginning with an explanation of the problem of competence, he explained why it took so long for these cases to be initiated, and how it was possible that decades passed between the initiation of a deportation case and the actual deportation. He then went on to analyse a range of cases, described the required evidence and finally presented a discussion of selected individual cases.

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.

Downloas PDFAn inhospitable place: now void and empty, long-buried layers are surfacing again. The former office of the Communist Party can only be adumbrated; a monumental bar is all that remains of the former dance hall, the later installation of a supermarket disrupted the original spatial arrangement and the elaborate floor plan, leaving behind the scent of flesh, dusty heater fans and open fuse boxes. What could not be used was sealed off, producing dead spaces, vacant areas. Only traces on the walls, cracks and defects on the ceilings, rusty handrails and swinging doors speak from the deepest, original layer of the edifice. The synagogue, dedicated in 1932, accommodated 600 believers. Embedded in a residential building, the construction thus escaped complete destruction in the Viennese November Pogrom of 1938. But its extinction is nevertheless obvious and undeniable: less than a century later, quasi-archaeological methods and complex simulations are necessary to identify the former sacral building. With the removal of each layer  – of the former supermarket, of the chemist’s shop, of the dance hall or the party office – a deeper layer come’s to the fore, exposing the monstrous desecration of the original function of this place. The great fire that destroyed the original installation in the November Pogrom was on the beginning: its desecration was continued thereafter through forgetting, ignoring, neglecting what was once here, because nobody remained after 1945 for whom this original layer was of any importance, who could give back this space its unique sacredness.