This article presents the first in-depth study of the impact the Filmbühne (film stage) had in the lives of German Jews living under the systematic oppression of the Nazi regime. The Filmbühne was an extension of the Jüdischer Kulturbund, a Jewish organization which offered cultural activities exclusively for Jews in the Third Reich between 1933 and 1941. The Filmbühne opened in December 1938 and provided Jews in Berlin an opportunity to view films, an activity which had been forbidden to them in the previous month. This article presents a first thorough reconstruction of the Filmbühne itself, including who attended the film screenings, what was shown, the cinema’s function within the larger Kulturbund organization and why the Nazi authorities allowed it to exist. It then considers the different ways the Filmbühne affected German Jews’ daily lives as seen through letters and diaries. The final section shows how film reviews in the Jüdisches Nachrichtenblatt, the only surviving Jewish newspaper at the time, enabled members of the Jewish community to circumvent Nazi censorship concerning Kristallnacht. This study discusses the variety of ways that the Filmbühne affected the lives of German Jews, most notably by providing audiences a way to cope with reality, connecting the Jewish community with the larger German culture, from which its members were completely segregated in other areas of their lives, and serving as a valuable communication tool which sent messages of validation and encouragement to the Jewish community. Focusing on this largely overlooked organization offers a new perspective on Jewish life in Nazi Germany during the period of time after Kristallnacht and before the deportations.
Hungarian Jewish leaders during World War II evoked the past extensively in their public statements. They attached current significance to Hungarian national anniversaries, cultural heroes and other historical and national symbols to imbue harsh contemporary events with meaning, to evoke hope, and to offer comfort.
Based mostly on community publications, the article examines four major political and cultural orientations among Hungarian Jewry: the traditional Neologs (as the liberal or reform Jewish religious movement in Hungary was called), the more reflective and self-critical Neologs, Orthodox Jews, and Zionists.
This article is a regional study that focuses on the expulsion of Jews with Polish citizenship from Saxony, mostly long-term legal residents of Germany, in the context of the so-called ‘Polenaktion’ (27–29 October 1938). The article gives a brief overview of the expulsion of Polish Jews from Germany and highlights the special circumstances in Saxony, specifically in Leipzig. The article examines the role of the local police forces in carrying out the arrests and transports to the German–Polish border. It further draws attention to the tumultuous situation near Beuthen (Bytom) where the distressed expellees were chased across the border into Polish territory. The article also traces the steps of individuals and families after their disorienting arrival in Poland. Finally it addresses the question of the ‘returnees’ – a limited number of expellees who were allowed to return to their hometowns in Germany for a short period in order to take care of their businesses, financial affairs and apartments. Highlighting Saxony as one example, this article shows that the brutal mass expulsion of Polish Jews from Germany was not only an unprecedented act of mass violence and viciousness against Jews in Germany, but also became a precursor, a ‘test case,’ for subsequent mass deportations. The Security Service of the Reichsführer-SS and the Main Office of the Security Police most likely did not have fully developed plans for mass deportations ready in October 1938. However, the Nazi authorities could draw on their experiences during the Polenaktion with regard to logistics, coordination of administrative steps and offices, panic control, intimidation, and brutality. These measures set the stage for the arrests and mass transports during the November Pogrom not even two weeks after the Polenaktion and for the mass deportations during World War II.
When the German Army invaded Poland in September 1939, it was closely followed by special police units: the Einsatzgruppen of the Sicherheitspolizei. It is well known that both formations committed horrendous crimes against the civilian population, killing tens of thousands of people during the barely two months of military administration alone. But one group of perpetrators has remained shrouded in obscurity to this day: the first chiefs of civil administration (CdZ) who entered Poland in the first half of September 1939. This article elucidates not only how this group facilitated frictionless cooperation between the army and the police, but also how they often actively induced mass violence against Poles and Jews in the occupied areas. The CdZ were no ordinary clerks, as their own postwar narratives would have it, but rather ‘willing executioners’ of the Third Reich's extermination program. Unlike their successors – Hans Frank, Arthur Greiser, Alber Forster, and Erich Koch – the first CdZ were not highly ideologized party barons; it thus follows that the opportunity to demonstrate their ‘work ethic’ in the service of the Third Reich was sufficient to make them well-functioning cogs in the wheel of mass murder and the Holocaust. Nevertheless, in the new dispensation of the Cold War, none of these ‘first wave’ CdZ had to stand trial for their dark deeds at the very beginning of the war.
This paper deals with the unique conduct of the Jewish Committees in the Mogilev District ghettos in Transnistria in saving their community members and coping with the Romanian authorities between 1941 and 1944. As the Holocaust raged throughout Europe and the Soviet Union, the Jews from Bessarabia, Bukovina and Dorohoi were expelled from Romania and arrived gradually in Mogilev province in the summer and autumn of 1941. A total of 195,000 Jews were deported from these regions to Transnistria, and only about 45,000 returned to Romania at the end of the war. The deportation to Transnistria emphasized the differences between wealthy and needy families among the Jews, and between the communities from south Bukovina and those from north Bukovina and Bessarabia. At the heart of the conflict were the Jewish Committees’ actions: the expulsion of thousands of Jews from the Mogilev District ghettos to the starvation death camps of Scazinsti and Pechora in July and again in October 1942.
With their occupation of territories of the USSR the Germans needed to establish a central supply base for the Waffen-SS in central and southern Russia for the group of armies that were operating there. For this purpose at the beginning of 1942 they set up, a central supply base in the forest (a Waldlager) close to the village of Kissyelevichi, eight kilometers southeast of the city of Bobruysk in an area that was under military administration. In mid-September 1943, the Jewish camp was liquidated (although the military camp continued to function, mainly as a base for actions against the local partisan fighters). At that time about 90 Jewish prisoners remained alive. They were transferred first to Minsk and, then, about a week later to the Lublin District, where they were dispersed among several concentration camps. In addition to the deportation to Bobruysk in July 1942 and its rapidly fatal results, 500 Jews from the Warsaw ghetto were deported to the headquarters of the Luftwaffe in Smolensk. In this article, I discuss the singular features of the Jewish camp at the supply base at Bobruysk, the reasons for its establishment, and the fate of the Jews incarcerated therein, and explore why, three decades after the war, it still failed to appear on the map of the camps. An additional issue I address is the fate of the Jews from the Warsaw Ghetto who were deported to Minsk and to Smolensk at the same time – how many were deported, when, why and what is known about them.
The article examines the transformation in Yad Vashem’s institutional conception with regard to commemoration of the Holocaust and the heroism from the 1940s up until the early 1970s. From the inception of Yad Vashem prior to the founding of the state, the heads of the institution grappled with the question of its physical appearance and its symbolic significance. The need to plan and construct a site of memory forced them to confront weighty issues pertaining to their conception of Holocaust memory and to disentangle the connection and relation between Holocaust and heroism and between victims and heroes. Yad Vashem’s leadership wondered what was meant by the ‘name and memory’ that appears in the Yad Vashem Law, as did the group of architects who planned the complex, deliberating how they should design the place so that it would serve as a site of memory and inspiration for future generations. What kind of monuments should they erect that would be symbolically compatible with the objectives of the institution as defined in 1953? Should commemoration of those who fought the Nazis and the other heroes be presented separately from remembrance of the murdered, or should the two functions be united? The discussion focuses on the debates among the institution’s management regarding the appearance of the remembrance site and addresses the question of why and how the original idea of erecting two main sites of remembrance at Yad Vashem – the Holocaust Hall, dedicated to the annihilation of the Jews and, opposite it, the Hall of Heroism to commemorate the Jewish combatants – was replaced by the Ohel Yizkor (Hall of Remembrance). This building contains nothing expressing Jewish heroism, which had featured so prominently in the original plans for Yad Vashem.
This article describes in detail the labor camp at the Dęblin-Irena airfield located in the Puławy County, part of the western region of Lublin province in Eastern Poland, from 1942 to 1944. This labor camp, which was actually a family camp that operated until the end of the German occupation in July 1944, stands out among all the labor camps located in this district, which were dismantled by November 1943. The singular history of this camp among the labor camps in the region, and perhaps in occupied Poland as a whole, presents an interesting test case of the general phenomenon of forced labor imposed on the Jews, and of the reciprocal relations that could evolve between the Jews and their persecutors. This article examines the options and limits of response on the part of the Jews, the factors that impacted them, and the manner in which these relations and the changing conditions affected the Jews’ prospects of survival. In seeking to answer these questions, I first provide a brief historical introduction that demonstrates the link between Jewish forced labor and the extermination of Jews in Puławy County and in the town of Dęblin-Irena in particular. Proceeding from these contexts, I focus on the inner lives of the residents of the Dęblin-Irena airfield camp, tracing their everyday lives, the internal structure of the camp, its social fabric and internal hierarchy, the living conditions that pertained therein and its educational and religious activity, among others. These spheres are examined through testimonies, memoirs, remembrance books, diaries and letters in an endeavor to understand how hundreds of Jews in this camp survived, whereas a mere handful survived the other labor camps in the district.
Was the persecution of the Sinti and Roma under National Socialism an act of genocide? This article posits that the conference of January 15, 1943 constituted a point of culmination for Nazi policy toward ‘Gypsies.’ Until now, researchers have attached little importance to this event, but the author will show that various actors gathered at this meeting to shape Nazi Germany's racial policies – including those directed at Gypsies – and reached agreement on subsequent actions against Mischlinge, persons of ‘mixed race.’ This paper explores the increasing persecution of this minority and its escalation in 1943 with deportations to the concentration and extermination camp Auschwitz-Birkenau. Such persons were to be rendered extinct within a generation by means of forced sterilization; only a very few were to be ‘Germanized.’ On the basis of empirical data, the author also shows that the group of ‘Gypsies’ defined as ‘racially pure,’ and therefore exempted from deportation to Auschwitz, was extremely small. The racially-motivated elimination of Gypsies continued until the end of the Nazi regime. The author also makes clear how the men who made Nazi racial policy correlated the lessons learned from the parallel processes of the persecution of Jews and the persecution of Sinti and Roma.
On 5 January 1945, four Jewish female prisoners were executed by hanging in Auschwitz. They were charged with stealing gunpowder from the ‘Union’ munitions factory, where they were force-labored, and smuggling it to the prisoners of the Sonderkommando at the nearby camp of Birkenau, who mutinied three months earlier, on 7 October 1944. This paper delves into the details surrounding the uprising of the Sonderkommando: it traces the preceding events, namely, the establishment and activity of the underground network for the smuggling of gunpowder, and then it delineates the German investigation following the uprising, which led to the imprisonment and execution of the four Jewish women. This paper presents several main results. First, contrary to common knowledge, the four women who were executed were not alone in the smuggling activity: no less than 30 Jewish female prisoners participated in the gunpowder smuggling, carried out in secrecy during a period of about 7 months. Regarding the investigation that followed the uprising, this paper reexamines two distinct, yet credible narratives concerning the circumstances that led to the arrest of the four women. It determines that both are valid, non-contradictory, but rather complement one another. Perhaps the most important finding is uncovering the reason for which the four women were accused of smuggling gunpowder: camp authorities chose to regard the proven smuggling as an act of sabotage. Thus, these women paid with their lives for the widespread sabotage that was commonplace at the ‘Union’ factory, which the camp authorities failed to uncover and prevent. The four women were hanged in order to terrorize the laborers at the ‘Union’, so as to prevent further acts of sabotage, and to demonstrate to higher echelons of the SS and the army that they are determined to put an end to sabotage once and for all.
Between 1933 and 1960 the population of Australian Jewry more than doubled in size, increasing from 23,000 to 61,000. Given that official government policy prohibited the expenditure of funds for Jewish refugees and survivors, this demographic growth created severe financial challenges for the local community. This article will argue that the involvement of Australian Jewry in German restitution and with the Claims Conference was a significant aspect of post-war Australian Jewish history, one that has not been investigated. The community's involvement was a burning issue with different emerging conflicts. First, there was the question of whether the Australian Jewish community should be involved with what some claimed was ‘blood money.’ Then, there was a battle over representation between pre-war refugees, represented by the Sydney-based Association of New Citizens and the newly created and officially recognized roof body of Australian Jewry, the Executive Council of Australian Jewry (ECAJ). Finally, whil...
According to common wisdom, Israelis during the country?s early years were not interested in reading stories about Holocaust victims. In keeping with the labor movement?s activist ideology, only narratives of armed resistance to the Nazis were considered worthy of attention. An examination of Holocaust books published in Israel from 1945 to 1961 paints a more complex picture.
The first part of this essay examines the development of the various forms of research and writing on the Holocaust during these formative years. The second, major part looks at the policies pursued by Israeli publishers in considering and publishing Holocaust books and reactions to them in the contemporary press.
The ‘bloodsucking Jew’ was a figure all Poles – Catholics, nationalists, and Communists – could understand and abhor. Following World War II, the image served to bind the Polish imagined community together, following Benedict Anderson's concept. Abhorrence of Jewish bloodsuckers was one of the few emotions that could, under the new conditions that prevailed after the war and given a diversely interpreted concept of patriotism, unite Catholics and nationalists associated with the National Armed Forces (NSZ), the hard-line Home Army, and the Communist People's Guard (GL) resistance militias. It was a novelty that this idea was embraced also by those Communists who combined nationalist rhetoric with a left-wing critique of the capitalism. This process was due to a rapid literalization of the bloodsucker metaphor in this period. This article is a study of the figure of the bloodsucker – a metaphoric condensation that appears in three types of anti-Jewish discourse (religious, national and left-wing) in the period of 1945–1946. Concentrating on the language used to formulate accusations against Jews who had survived the Holocaust, the author analyzes the evolution of such language and attempts to link symbolic violence it expresses to actual physical violence. As Hanna Segal's concept of symbolic equation shows, the literalization of comparisons or metaphors in propaganda or hate speech may indicate upcoming physical violence. Before the eruption of violence, its indications appear on a symbolic level – in language whose meaning is suddenly taken literally. Someone with a status of an exploiter is referred to with a seemingly dead metaphor of bloodsucker; when the situation escalates, however, the metaphor regains its living content, and this person is killed as someone who, e.g. as a kidnapper of children really consumes blood. When balance is restored, the memory of the crime regains the status of a dead metaphor.
This article examines the ways in which Czech filmmakers have shaped the memory of the Holocaust in the Bohemian lands. It does so through an analysis of four films: Distant Journey (1949), Romeo, Juliet, and Darkness (1959), The Death of Beautiful Deer (1986), and Protector (2009). The narratives of all of these films center on a mixed couple or an intermarried family, a site where the fate of Jews and non-Jews intersected during the Holocaust. These films thus constitute productive sites for the investigation of the representation of Jews and non-Jews’ relations during the war. I argue that in the immediate postwar period, filmmakers asked probing and difficult questions about Czech complicity and defiance under German occupation. Before long, however, the mixed couple became a staging ground for narratives that privileged Czech victimization and used references to the Holocaust primarily to allude to German genocidal intent against Czechs. As such, the Jewish experience was marginalized as a historical event in favor of the ‘real’ Czech history of the war. Analyzing the films as manifestations of historical memory, I show that these narratives serve not only to silence Czech complicity in the social death of Jews during the war, but also to legitimize the violent un-mixing of German- and Czech-speakers after World War II. This narrative of parallel victimization of Jews and Czechs was first developed in the immediate aftermath of the war, and despite the monumental political changes experienced by the country, it has become entrenched in Czech historical memory until today.
The German student movement of the 1960s, which reached its climax with the street revolt of 1968, grew out of the rejection, by members of Germany?s younger generation, of their parents? complicity in the Holocaust. The movement?s ideology and development should to be viewed against the background of messianic political theologies among the students, reflecting a complex relationship with both their biological German parents and their ideological Jewish ones.
The movement?s radicals viewed themselves as the true interpreters of the meaning of Auschwitz and thus as a kind of ?true Israel.? But this pathological attitude was rejected by its moderates, who paved the way for an ethics of memory that could serve as a basis for rational democratic politics.
From November 1949 to April 1951, a regional branch of the Romanian communist Securitate (General Directorate for the Security of the People) investigated the crimes committed by the 7th Roșiori (cavalry) Regiment on the Eastern Front during World War II. Starting with inquiries into one of the regiment’s sergeants, the investigation expanded and brought to light the horrendous crimes perpetrated in the summer and autumn of 1941, mostly against the Jewish population of Bessarabia, Northern Bukovina, and Transnistria. In October 1950, when the regional branch was making huge progress in unveiling the crimes, the central office of the Securitate ordered the cessation of the investigations. This article is a detailed description and examination of the prosecution’s proceedings. Its purpose is to bring forward this important and scarcely searched primary source, and, in this way, contribute to the historiography of the Romanian army’s behavior during the Holocaust. The first part deals with the chronology of the prosecution’s investigation and its complex nature. The second part looks at witnesses’ testimonies, defendants’ declarations, and prosecutors’ reports and maps the crimes committed by the 7th Roșiori Regiment. The last part describes the human fabric of the regiment’s personnel as it appears in the prosecuting files.
Discussing mechanisms of representation in modern Jewish art music in general and post-Holocaust commemoration music in particular, the article examines the dilution of musical signs in Holocaust-related works penned by Israeli composers Noam Sheriff, Ruben Seroussi, and Tzvi Avni. Written within the span of thirteen years, between 1985 and 1998, these works include Sherrif’s (b. 1935) Mechaye Hametim (He Who Revives the Dead, 1985); Seroussi’s (b. 1959) A Victim from Terezin (1995; based on excerpts from Gonda Redlich’s Terezin diary); Avni’s (b. 1927) Se questo è un oumo (1998; a setting of poems by Primo Levi); and Avni’s From There and Then (1994–1998). The compositions under discussion unfold a continuum of aesthetic approaches ranging from postromantic trajectories that stitch musical signs on nationalist teleological constellations (Sheriff), through conscious non-redemptive formulations (Seroussi), to compositional emphases on the migration and translocation of Jewish musics rather than affixed signs of otherness (Avni). The dilution of Jewish musical markers not only attests to the composers’ abandoning of representational apparatuses, but also necessitates a broader look at the dialectical movement of Jewish musics before, during, and after the Holocaust, lest these sounds become objectified or otherwise overshadowed by nationalist constellations.
We do not believe in the most obvious and facile deduction: that man is fundamentally brutal, egoistic and stupid in his conduct once every civilized institution is taken away…. We believe, rather, that the only conclusion to be drawn is that in the face of driving necessity and physical disabilities many social habits and instincts are reduced to silence.
The situation in the German occupied territories of the Soviet Union during the Second World War plays a key role in discussion of the comparability or incomparability of the Nazi genocide of Roma (“Gypsies”) with the Holocaust. At the same time, this same region, particularly the militarily administered parts, remains the most understudied area with regard to the Nazi persecution of Roma. This analysis of German and Soviet documents offers new insight into this topic and forces us to reconsider the relationship between the persecutions of the “Gypsies” and the Jews.
This essay offers a comparative analysis of Holocaust commemoration in three museums: The Jewish Museum Berlin; Yad Vashem: The Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Authority in Jerusalem and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC. In particular, the essay examines exhibition techniques, architecture and the visceral, physical experience of the visitor in each museum. My argument focuses on the way that museums draw on aesthetic technique, design and the manipulation of visitor experience to create Holocaust narratives that resonate with and reflect each country’s dominant Holocaust discourse. In Yad Vashem, this narrative is a distinctly Zionist one that relies on the symbolism of autochthony and redemption in contrast to Jewish suffering in exile. The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum’s Holocaust narrative, in contrast, is rooted in the idea of American exceptionalism and democracy as the antidote to Fascism and anti-Semitism, while the Holocaust narrative of the Jewish Museum Berlin, as developed in its architecture, memorial spaces and select exhibits, draws on the symbolism of the void to emphasize the loss of Germany’s Jewish communities as irreparable rupture and self-inflicted wound.
The Kastner affair was one of the most notorious court cases of Israel?s early decades. It centered on a charge of libel against a pamphleteer, Malchiel Grunwald, who accused Israel Kastner and others of collaborating with Nazi officials in Budapest during the weeks in which the great majority of Hungary?s Jews were sent to their deaths in Auschwitz.
In the years since the court case, historians have collected documents and testimonies relating to the progress of the Final Solution in Hungary. As a result, we now have a wealth of information that was unavailable to the judges in the case?the district court judge who, in his ruling, vilified Kastner as an abettor of the Nazis, and the Supreme Court judges who, on appeal, rejected the first court?s analysis of the critical events. Yet, despite having only partial evidence available to them, both courts made unequivocal rulings. In doing so, the judges, whose task was to determine the legal responsibility of the accused, wrote history.
This paper examines the postwar politics of restitution and the related discourses of historical memory and responsibility surrounding a small Jewish cemetery in Vienna, in the eighteenth city district of Währing. A well-tended space and uniquely one of the only surviving Biedermeier-era cemeteries in the city prior to the Holocaust, today it is dangerously dilapidated following extensive desecration and destruction during the Holocaust. Despite its physical neglect and secretive location, this cemetery has become one of the most contested Jewish sites in the present-day Austrian landscape, the focus of intense conflicts over Austrian restitution in the face of its historical responsibility for the crimes of National Socialism. This paper examines the origins of the Währing cemetery’s central place in Austrian memory discourses in the first twenty years after the Holocaust, in the context of the re-establishment both of the Austrian Republic and its Jewish community. It thereby explicates the complex relationship emerging between Austrian Jewry and the Austrian state on the one hand, as well as the relationship of both Austrian Jewry and the state to Austria’s profound, but largely destroyed Jewish heritage on the other. This paper thus contributes to an understanding of the conflicted ambivalences of both the Austrian state and its Jewish community in the present day by way of examining the reprehensible politics of restitution and memory at this site in the immediate aftermath of the Holocaust.
What was Jewish belonging in Central Europe, and how was it influenced by the Holocaust? This article examines the ways in which Czech Jews negotiated their bonds with Jewishness immediately before, during and after the Second World War. Building on a theoretical framework of affiliation developed by Rogers Brubaker and Frederick Cooper, the essay portrays the differentiation among the Czech Jews in the Terezín (Theresienstadt) ghetto. Much of the ideological differences between the groups of Czech Jews were informed by access to resources and also emotional ties which played a key role in the menacing environment surrounding them. Rather than producing common Jewishness, Terezín generated differences. In the immediate postwar, ties to Jewishness were arbitrary and often accidental, only rarely corresponding with one's previous affinities. The article argues that group belonging is situational and contingent on the social space.
Recent scholarship has demonstrated that there was no postwar communal culture of silence among American Jews with regard to the Holocaust. Nonetheless, Americans, and Hollywood’s filmmakers, were reluctant to engage and present the most horrific aspects of the Nazi death camps, including the barbarous treatment of camp inmates and the obscenities of the gas chambers, unmarked mass graves and incineration. By the late 1960s, however, a subset of Americans was beginning to come to terms with the traumatic memory of the Holocaust in a most unusual, indirect way: through films about zombies, the ‘living dead’ of cinema, featured in George Romero’s now-famous trilogy – Night of the Living Dead (1968), Dawn of the Dead (1978) and Day of the Dead (1985) – and, less obviously, in Steven Spielberg’s Poltergeist (1982). Romero’s zombie – lacking emotion and affect as well as consciousness, locked in a present bereft of past and future, driven by the most primitive instincts of survival – resembles the Muselmänner, the ‘living dead’ of the concentration camps, existing in the state that Italian philosopher Giorgio Agamben calls ‘bare life.’ The Romero trilogy and Poltergeist also deal significantly with how zombies – and, by analogy, camp inmates, are treated in ‘life’ and in death. Both are victims: victims, for Spielberg, of desecration, their graves ignored or destroyed at the whim of a real-estate developer; victims, for Romero, of a shocking disregard for human dignity, and blatant disregard, too, for the traditions and rituals associated with death, including a proper burial and the naming of the dead.
Since it opened in 2013, the POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews in Warsaw has been widely praised by journalists and scholars for its permanent exhibition and striking architecture. Built on the site of the former Warsaw ghetto established by the Nazis in World War II, the museum has been identified as a symbol of improved Polish–Jewish relations in the wake of the Holocaust. Few commentators, however, have delved deeply into the complexities of the museum’s architectural relationship to the Holocaust. This essay traces the long discussion surrounding the architectural symbolism of the museum – from its inception up to its recent completion – in order to illustrate how the Holocaust continues to pose major challenges to architects as they wrestle with the task of building after Auschwitz.
This article examines the archives of the International Tracing Service (ITS) in light of recent debates concerning the implication of the digitization of archives for historical research. After a brief survey of the ITS’s history, it argues that although digitization brings in its wake certain problems for historical research – in particular the loss of serendipity and a thorough grounding in the culture of place – the ITS to some extent resists these difficulties. This is a result both of the transnational nature of the ITS’s vast documentary holdings and the fact that the ITS’s digital environment does not currently allow for fine-grained research of the sort that allows researchers to overlook the wider context. The article argues that recent ‘rational constructivist’ approaches in theory of history provide fruitful ways for making sense of the categories that are to be found in the ITS archives. It then goes on, through the use of as-yet non-digitized documents from ITS pertaining to Romanian Roma and Czech Mischlinge, to show that the ITS’s holdings offer great potential for writing a social history of the Holocaust, one that is sensitive to place and to the experience of the victims, even if that research often needs to make use of perpetrator documents. The aim of using non-digitized material is to show that as these documents are digitized, they lose none of their power to refocus the history of the Holocaust.
In this paper I argue that Markus Zusak's The Book Thief allows for the personal and collective exculpation of the common or ‘ordinary’ citizens of Germany who lived through the Third Reich. By drawing on the German historian Martin Broszat and his historiographical study of ‘everyday’ life under Nazi rule, I establish that the novel creates a number of contentious themes. First, it suggests that the Nazis were a group who resided on the periphery of German society, and that the rise of Hitler's Third Reich was unpopular among the general German population. Second, while Germans later became victims of Allied bombings and/or Russian invasion, the population was also victim to the nation's political situation. In arguing that German citizens were victims of the Nazis, The Book Thief separates a supposed ‘demonic’ social minority from the ‘everyday’ working class. Depicting the German lower classes as innocent bystanders or victims, the book allows its readers and, in particular, its German readers, to reflect upon this tumultuous historical period with some cultural and social moral fortitude intact. Furthermore, the paper suggests that this novel is just one example of a corpus of Australian texts that have, in recent years, reconfigured traditional literary representations of the Nazi regime and the Holocaust.
The centrality of deception and secrecy to the Nazi extermination of the Jews has long been recognized, yet numerous questions remain regarding its significance for the Final Solution. This article examines Nazi attempts to cover up the first extermination camp established by the Third Reich at Chelmno. It demonstrates that in the Warthegau region of occupied Poland, the Nazis played a shell game to deceive victims and bystanders by pretending that deportees were transferred from the provinces to the Lodz ghetto or from the Lodz ghetto to the provinces and Germany. The contradictory cover stories used by the Nazis to obfuscate deportations to Chelmno succeeded for a while, but were eventually seen through. While Nazi deception measures are more vividly recorded in postwar testimonies, this article also shows that Nazi attempts to erase the physical evidence of mass murder through the cremation of the corpses can be documented much more extensively than hitherto appreciated using contemporary sources. Ultimately, both the attempted obfuscation and obliteration of the evidence for extermination at Chelmno failed.
In January 1963, four Japanese men marched in front of a long procession from the Auschwitz main camp to the site of the death camp at Birkenau. This marked the eighteenth anniversary of the camp's liberation and was the highlight of a 10-month journey through numerous sites of death and suffering during World War II in dozens of countries. The Hiroshima-Auschwitz Peace March episode serves to illuminate the different ways the war and its horrors were remembered, used and abused in places as disparate as Hiroshima, Israel, Singapore and Poland. This march, however, was also a unique point of convergence between multiple national narratives of victimization. What was common between these different war memories was the figure of the survivor-witness. The Peace March illustrates the emergence of a shared discourse following the Eichmann trial and others, which agents like the marchers facilitated and which emerged from multiple Western and non-Western sources.
The article exposes the complex and fascinating legal system created by the Jews in displaced camps in the American Occupation Zone in Germany. At the center of the article is the tension between the Jewish displaced persons (DPs) and the American Army and Military Government, about the question of the legality of the Jewish camp courts, and the attempt to put it in the correct legal and political context. The article focuses on the relationship between the Jewish communal law and the law of the sovereign, namely the Military Government Law. It aims first and foremost to shed light both on the diverse and complex legal system created by the Jewish DPs in the American Occupation Zone and on the ‘legal’ relationship between the Jewish legal system and the Military Government Law. The two sides confronted over the scope of jurisdiction while the Military Government applied on any person in the American Occupation Zone including the Jewish DPs while the Jewish internal law applied on Jewish DPs only. The insistence of the Jewish DPs on legal autonomy reveals not only the role of law in reconstructing Jewish community after the Holocaust but also its role in their ongoing social-political struggle for national ‘self-determination’ and recognition as a distinct national collective. With the dismantling of the DP camps and the emigration of Jews from Germany, the struggle for legal autonomy ended naturally. Indeed, it was a very brief chapter in Jewish history; however, this does not detract from the importance of the political and legal aspects of the Jewish struggle for recognition as a distinct national collective. Within a short time, the Jewish DPs set up a ‘national laboratory’ of sorts for the purpose of reconstructing a Jewish collective using the law as a significant measure.
Czernowitz, capital of Romania′s province of Bukovina, was a diplomatic, political, and ethnic battleground during World War II. Seeking to preserve its claim to the region against encroachments by the Soviets, Romania sought to suppress the region′s most powerful ethnic minority, the Ukrainians, pursuing a policy of expulsion aimed at creating a “Romanised” zone. At the same time, the German Sonderkommande 10b ensconced itself in the city, arresting the better part of the Jewish population and killing hundreds. The Romanian regime, which originally viewed Germany as an ally against Soviet designs, felt betrayed when the German force began to cooperate with the Ukrainian nationalist movement. In the end Romania prevailed because of Hitler`s decision not to establish an independent Ukraine that would include both Czernowitz and Bukovina. The Romanians herded 50,000 Czernowitz Jews into a ghetto; many of these were subsequently deported to Transnistria, but were not sent to death camps. But, after the war, the Jews never re-established themselves in the city, which had once been a vibrant center of Jewish culture.
Since 2000, there has been a great increase in studies on the spoliation of Jews in France. This research has established the chronology and topography of antisemitic spoliation, identified its actors and assessed its scale. In doing so, it has led to the formulation of new questions. Previous research sought a precise understanding of the linkage between the quest for economic gain and the implementation of racial extermination at the very core of the looting process. New research, which varies greatly in its scale and scope, draws on an ever-wider range of sources, some of which were never previously studied, and employs many innovative methodological approaches. However, so far, it has paid no attention to archival images, which have been used merely for the purposes of illustration. Yet such photographs constitute documents that can help us to understand precisely how the actors involved in this looting actually viewed their work. This article examines an album of 85 photographs of the looting of Jews in Paris that has been preserved in the federal archives of Koblenz under the shelf mark B 323-311.
The article seeks to contribute to debates on the British management of news of the Holocaust during World War II. It provides a case study of how a mid-level diplomat, the scholar Isaiah Berlin, responded to news about the destruction of Jews in Europe while serving British interests in the United States. It is argued that Berlin’s reports to London, in marginalizing how different constituencies in the United States reacted to the terrible news from Europe, played a role in insulating decision-makers in London from pressure from American civil society to act to save the perishing. The article provides a fuller appraisal of the information about the Holocaust that Berlin had access to during the war than has hitherto been offered and advances explanations for Berlin’s wartime responses to, and his postwar account of, news of the destruction of Europe’s Jews. It is contended that ‘genteel’ antisemitism took a toll on Berlin, and that the particularity of Berlin’s chosen British (and) Jewish identities influenced his responses to news of the Holocaust.
The article examines the fate of hundreds of thousands of Jewish-owned books that had been looted by the Nazis. By the end of the Second World War, these books were scattered all across Europe, and within a very short time, they became the focus of bitter conflicts between three official elements – the Jewish organizations in the USA, Britain and Palestine, The American government, and the surviving Jewish communities in Europe. The Jewish possessions created a series of difficulties, diplomatic as well as economical and administrative. But as it soon turned out, first and foremost they created a political problem, deeply rooted in a battle field over the Jewish past, the victims’ memory and the link between the ruin of the European Jewry and the establishment of the State of Israel.
In 1944, most of the remaining German Jews lived in mixed marriages. Those intermarried to a non-Jewish spouse were still exempt from deportation. In order to expel the last remaining Jews from their spheres of influence, Nazi authorities used the pretext of domestic security to evict them in September 1944 from the endangered western boarder of the German Reich to labour camps of the Organization Todt (OT). At the beginning of 1945, the Reich Security Main Office finally ordered the deportation of all remaining Jews in order to make the Reich 'free of Jews'. By analyzing the widespread regional literature and focusing on new archival findings, this article for the first time sheds light on the background of the persecution of the German Jews in the last stage of the Shoah and offers detailed statistical data. A close look on regional differences outlines the asynchronicity of its process and explains why most of the intermarried Jews escaped deportation to the very end and therefore had the fortune to survive.
This article explores what motivates ordinary people to become involved with commemorating Holocaust Memorial Day (HMD). While there is an expanding academic literature on HMD, public commemoration, and the memory work (and politics) of remembrance, a great deal of this commentary and analysis is offered from the firsthand perspective of academics writing about large-scale public memorial or museum projects. There is, in contrast, very little published that examines small-scale public participation with HMD, including why people get involved in organizing their own commemorative activities. Since 2005, the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust has been responsible for organizing and promoting HMD commemoration in Britain, and as part of this brief, they organize free workshops across the UK for people interested in organizing an activ ity to mark HMD. This article analyzes interviews with the organizers and participants of three workshops that took place during the buildup to HMD 2016. In this article, I focus in particular on the ways that interviewees orientate to questions of conscience and the ways in which their personal and political values accord with the aims of HMD. My article suggests that the pedagogical and political potentials of HMD are more varied than academic analysis has thus far suggested and that further work is needed to explore the engagement of ordinary people in HMD commemoration.