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 PDFCzernowitz was the Habsburg Empire's „Vienna of the East“; it had a lively German-speaking Jewish community, almost all of whom were persecuted or murdered during the time of the Second World War. Yet the memory of Cernowitz lives on, passed on as it is by survivors and their descendants “like a wonderful present“ and a „relentless curse“, as noted by Aharon Appelfeld. We find evidence of old Cernowitz in historical reports, memoirs, documents and literary works. These include impressive contributions by Cernowitz-born writers.

In their lecture, Marianne Hirsch and Leo Spitzer focussed primarily on materials from family albums and collections in order to tap into the world of Jewish Cernowitz before its destruction. In particular, they analysed street photographs depicting daily life which had been taken on the city's streets before the Second World War and during the occupation by Romanian fascists and their allies from Nazi Germany. What do these ordinary and apparently opaque images tell us about the rich and diverse past? We were astonished to discover that they tell and show us a lot in that they reveal both more and less than we had expected.

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.

Download PDFThis paper outlines a historical and critical survey of the contribution of psychoanalysis and other ‘psycho-sciences’ to our contemporary understanding of Holocaust trauma. It argues that the theme of mass traumatisation effects originates in the use of psychiatric knowledge and procedures during the First World War. As part of the war machine, psychiatry had special functions in the mobilisation of the masses as well as in the treatment and rehabilitation of those soldiers who suffered from ‘shell shock’ and later developed ‘traumatic neurosis’ or ‘war neurosis’. The main task of psychiatrists at that time was to cure these soldiers as quickly and effectively as possible – in order to send them back to the same dangerous circumstances, which had caused their symptoms in the first place. In treating war neurotics, brutal punitive methods such as painful electric shocks were frequently used. Based on archival sources, and on the correspondence between Sigmund Freud and Sándor Ferenczi, the application of these methods is illustrated here through the example of a Hungarian military doctor, Viktor Gonda. The majority of army doctors regarded war neurosis as a character deficiency, a sign of a ‘feminine’ character. It was thought that this kind of ‘male hysteria’ could also affect ‘healthy’ soldiers, destroying their will, determination, patriotism, and heroism. By contrast, the psychoanalytic conception of war neurosis developed by Sándor Ferenczi in Hungary and by Karl Abraham and Ernst Simmel in Germany was intended to be a humanising alternative to the dominant, mainly ‘punishing’ and torturous procedures applied by mainstream military psychiatry. Psychoanalysts emphasised the importance of understanding the patient’s symptoms, assuming that their explanation originated in the patient’s life history and unconscious motives rather than exclusively in external, physical causes.  The psychoanalytic approach to war neurosis anticipated later debates on the nature of individual and collective psychological traumata. This paper surveys the impact of the First World War on the development of the theory and technique of psychoanalysis, including the concepts of Freud, Ferenczi, Melanie Klein, Abram Kardiner, and others. After the Second World War, psychoanalysis was preoccupied with the exploration of the ‘Nazi mind’, the specific psychological and characterological traits of war criminals, their supporters, and their collaborators. This paper argues that the existence of a Holocaust trauma as a separate group of symptoms was for a long time not really acknowledged.  e focus only shi ed from perpetrators to victims in the 1970s, due to the introduction of the diagnostic category of PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) into the vocabulary of psychoanalysis. This paper, however, argues that the concept of PTSD preserved, in some ways, the dominant discourse of First World War psychiatry, continuing, in a subtler way, to stigmatise or blame the victims.