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 terrible details of the tragedy of Jewry in the northern part of Transylvania, which had been annexed to Hungary after 1940, emerged even in the last months of the Second World War, when the essence and events of the genocide were known in ever wider circles. As awareness of the events first emerged, literary and artistic works were also published in Transylvania between 1945 and 1949 that depicted the cruelties of the Shoah and at the same time aimed to raise a lasting monument for the Jewish communities that had been destroyed. These early works of Holocaust remembrance made a considerable contribution to retaining the mass murder in people's consciousness and turning a young generation's awareness to the terrible heritage of Nazism later on, when, during the decades of consolidation of communism, all spheres of life were submerged in a “great silence”.

SWL-Reader

Download PDFIn Hungary, official memory and history discourses often distinguish between ‘Jews’ and ‘Hungarians’, harking back to the Horthy-era concept of the ‘Christian national’ state. This dichotomy clashes with modern ideas of citizenship and acts as a carrier of antisemitism. This lecture analyses the role of political authority in fostering integration or exclusion over a long time span. It begins with the attitudes of those holding political power in the Kingdom of Hungary in the Middle Ages, when the distinction between Jews and Christians was based on religious affiliation. In particular, two processes will be examined: one leading to increased integration, granting protection and rights, and the other promoting segregation, demonisation and hostility. The lecture will then focus on key moments in modern history, exploring the functions of these two contradictory but related processes. It will finally tackle the question of the role of the state in (dis)continuities between medieval exclusion and modern antisemitism.

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 PDFDownload 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.