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 paper focuses on the fundamental aspects of my dissertation project: triggers of pogroms, dynamics of violence and the role of the respective emerging statehood as well as the perpetrators’ self-perception. In both reference periods, pogrom violence referred closely to the establishment of Polish statehood, even though this happened under divergent circumstances. Both phases involved exceptionally large numbers of pogroms. In both cases profound socio-political ruptures and paradigm shifts took place, where the need to create enemies was tremendous. An examination of the perpetrators’ verbal utterances and actions during and after the pogrom allows to identify their symbolic reference points, which express antisemitic stereotypes and show how the pogromists defined their relations towards state authorities. The project will offer insights about prejudices during transitional phases, the dynamics of pogroms and how narratives of violence are preserved. The pogroms are reconstructed by means of eyewitness accounts, military records and court files.

SWL-Reader

Download PDFHolocaust and Genocide Studies emerged as a new discipline during the 1990s, particularly so in the Anglo-Saxon world. This development also established a new culture of remembrance and treatment of the collective past and public apologies for historical crimes. Since then, several countries have institutionalized Holocaust memorial days and similar institutions in a range of formats, several governments have apologized for historical injustices in various manners. Yet, there remains the question of a precise definition of a genocide – and in what way the term is connected to the Holocaust, the murder of the European Jews. How are these two related? What is the social function of such official or semi-official remembrances, and what is their role in society?

In his lecture, Dirk Moses endeavoured to clarify whether the insights gained from the history of the Holocaust and other genocides in general – namely, the imperative of 'tolerance' – really does provide an adequate answer to this challenge.

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.

Download PDFThe Royal Hungarian Gendarmerie was one of the most important state institutions be­ tween 1881 and 1945. Its task was to preserve law and order in the countryside, to prevent peasant uprisings and Socialist agitation in the villages. In 1944, it also became the task the gendarmerie to concentrate and deport the Hungarian Jews to Auschwitz. The contempo­rary documents so far researched as well as the papers of the people’s court trials seem to clearly support the supposition that the gendarmerie, from the lowliest patrols to the gen­darmerie district headquarters and to the detective subdivisions, readily took part in the collection and then the deportation of Jews. If deemed necessary, the trainees of the gen­darmerie schools and training battalions assisted in the detection and collection.
The first question I attempt to answer in this paper is why Adolf Eichmann and his ‘special­ ists’ primarily trusted the Hungarian gendarmerie in the spring and summer of 1944, when the Jews in Hungary were deprived of their property, herded into ghettoes and collection camps, and finally deported. This fundamental question thus relates to the crime, i.e. the deportation, and the role the gendarmerie played in the Holocaust. Second, I discuss the size of the gendarmerie, the number of those participating in the deportation, their connection to other agencies, above all the police and the administration, as well as their attitudes to­ ward the persecution of Jews and to deportations. Third, I investigate whether the gendarmes were cruel, as most of the survivors claim, or, on the contrary, whether they helped the per­secuted, whether they protested and perhaps refused to obey orders, as former gendarmes claim, and as some people in Hungary are still trying to have the public believe. Finally, I investigate what they knew, what they could have known about the destination of the depor­tation trains, and about the true, final end of the deportations.
My other fundamental question relates to the punishment, to the accountability. What was the extent of the gendarmerie’s punishment, and how did it proceed? Was it a political show, or was their participation in the deportation the real reason for their punishment? How was evidence collected during the proceedings of the screening committees, the people’s prose­cutor and the people’s court? Was torture resorted to, were the charges based on statements of witnesses, and/or were contemporary documents also attached to the indictments? The comparison to the criminal proceedings of other war criminals will be another important aspect of analysis.