represented Jewish causes. How did these politicians, who viewed Jews as a collectivity and sought to defend the Jews’ collective interests, act in the troublesome post-war decades?
This volume of original essays explores the memory of the Holocaust and the Jewish past in postcommunist Eastern Europe. Devoting space to every postcommunist country, the essays in Bringing the Dark Past to Light explore how the memory of the “dark pasts” of Eastern European nations is being recollected and reworked. In addition, it examines how this memory shapes the collective identities and the social identity of ethnic and national minorities. Memory of the Holocaust has practical implications regarding the current development of national cultures and international relationships.
Table of Contents
List of Illustrations
Preface and Acknowledgments
John-Paul Himka and Joanna Beata Michlic
1. "Our Conscience Is Clean": Albanian Elites and the Memory of the Holocaust in Postsocialist Albania
2. The Invisible Genocide: The Holocaust in Belarus
Per Anders Rudling
3. Contemporary Responses to the Holocaust in Bosnia and Herzegovina
4. Debating the Fate of Bulgarian Jews during World War II
5. Representations of the Holocaust and Historical Debates in Croatia since 1989
6. The Sheep of Lidice: The Holocaust and the Construction of Czech National History
7. Victim of History: Perceptions of the Holocaust in Estonia
8. Holocaust Remembrance in the German Democratic Republic--and Beyond
9. The Memory of the Holocaust in Postcommunist Hungary
Part 1: The Politics of Holocaust Memory
Part 2: Cinematic Memory of the Holocaust
10. The Transformation of Holocaust Memory in Post-Soviet Latvia
11. Conflicting Memories: The Reception of the Holocaust in Lithuania
Saulius Sužied<edot>lis and Šarūnas Liekis
12. The Combined Legacies of the "Jewish Question" and the "Macedonian Question"
13. Public Discourses on the Holocaust in Moldova: Justification, Instrumentalization, and Mourning
14. The Memory of the Holocaust in Post-1989 Poland: Renewal--Its Accomplishments and Its Powerlessness
Joanna B. Michlic and Małgorzata Melchior
15. Public Perceptions of the Holocaust in Postcommunist Romania
Felicia Waldman and Mihai Chioveanu
16. The Reception of the Holocaust in Russia: Silence, Conspiracy, and Glimpses of Light
17. Between Marginalization and Instrumentalization: Holocaust Memory in Serbia since the Late 1980s
18. The "Unmasterable Past"? The Reception of the Holocaust in Postcommunist Slovakia
19. On the Periphery: Jews, Slovenes, and the Memory of the Holocaust
Gregor Joseph Kranjc
20. The Reception of the Holocaust in Postcommunist Ukraine
A few days after arriving in New York during the spring of 1990, Anatolii S. (born in 1920, Ukraine), put on his jacket, decorated with the numerous military medals that he had earned during his service in the Soviet Army during World War II, and went into a nearby synagogue, hoping to find out about the benefits available to him as a Jewish veteran of the war that "helped to save America from fascism." He showed his documents to the local clerk, who only gestured for him to put his hat back on and to pray with the prayer book. Unable to open the book correctly, and most importantly, unwilling to pray, Anatolii realized that neither his participation in the war, nor his knowledge of Yiddish, made him a true member of this community. Being accustomed to displays of public respect and economic benefits from his status as a war veteran, Anatolii now had to embrace his new status in a society that did not regard him any differently from any other non-English speaking, elderly Jewish immigrant from Russia.
Anatolii, like the other approximately 26,000 Soviet Jewish veterans who migrated to Germany, Israel, Canada, and the United States in the 1990s, was certainly welcome to attend synagogues and Jewish community centers in his new country, but his understanding of what it meant to be a Jew differed profoundly from the majority of members in these communities. Anatolii and his peers (Soviet veterans) regarded their participation in the war as the most important part of their Jewish identity, and they were often shocked to find out how little the war meant to the Jewish identity of the local populations they encountered. Unsatisfied with the status quo, many Soviet veterans launched their own organizations, where being Jewish and proud of Soviet accomplishments did not seem contradictory. Moreover, the definitions of "Soviet" and "Jewish" shifted, merged, and eventually formed the foundation of a specific culture, with its own leaders, traditions, rituals, and language.
In this article, I look into the modes of survival of Soviet language and ideology among veterans, and analyze what these modes tell us about the patterns of immigrant adaptation. I concentrate on three centers of veterans' activities: New York, Toronto, and Berlin, and discuss similarities and differences in the adaptations of veterans in these communities. I will discuss how the culture of each city and country influenced what the veterans select from Soviet rhetoric to describe their present lives.
The second goal of this study is to challenge existing scholarship, which treats elderly migrants as passive and apathetic. Nursing Studies and Gerontology dominate research in this area (rather than the field of immigrant studies) and as a result we know much more about cases of extreme isolation, deprivation, and depression among elderly immigrants in the United States, Canada, Australia, and Western Europe than about the contribution elderly migrants make to the social and cultural systems in their new societies. While the vulnerability of this group is undeniable, I perceive studying foreign retirees solely as victims or disadvantaged entities as an "ageism" bias which denies proper recognition and acceptance of the achievements and life experiences of the elderly, as it sees them solely through the prism of their ailing bodies. Soviet Jewish veterans, as a group, serve as an ideal case study of how elderly immigrants fight such perceptions, both consciously and subconsciously, not only by creating their own organizations, but also by establishing an awareness of their legacies in their new home countries.
Data and Methodology
This study is based on 233 in-depth interviews with Soviet veterans of World War II conducted between 1999 and 2007 in Toronto, Berlin, and New York. I used a snowball sample, where the initial respondents—located through veterans' organizations and ads placed in Russian-language media—suggested other potential interviewees. The interviews consisted of open-ended questions about respondents' experiences throughout their lives. Russian-language newspaper articles published in immigrant papers also served as useful sources for public expressions of veterans' opinions about political, cultural, and social issues in their new countries.
Contents: François Guesnet/Gwen Jones: Antisemitism in Poland and Hungary after 1989: Determinants of social impact – Brian Porter-Szűcs: Why Do Polish Catholics Hate the Jews? A reasoned answer to a stupid question – János Dési: An Old-New Story: The continued existence of the Tiszaeszlár blood libel – Grzegorz Krzywiec: Between Realpolitik and Redemption: Roman Dmowski’s solution to the «Jewish question» – László Karsai: Miklós Horthy (1868-1957) and the «Jewish Question» in Hungary, 1920-1945 – Victor Karady: Jews and the Communist Commitment in Hungary and Eastern Central Europe after 1945 – András Kovács: Antisemitic Elements in Communist Discourse: A continuity factor in post-war Hungarian antisemitism – Adam Ostolski: Public Memory in Transition: Antisemitism and the memory of World War II in Poland, 1980-2010 – Gwen Jones: The work of Antisemitic Art in the Age of Digital Reproduction: Hungarianpublishing revivals since 1989 – Mikołaj Winiewski/Michał Bilewicz: The Emergence of Antisemitism in Times of Rapid Social Change: Survey results from Poland – Pál Tamás: The Indicators of Hungarian National Populism: What does antisemitism show? – Hanna Kwiatkowska: Old and New Fora for Antisemitic Discourse: Reflections on Poland since the 1990s. – Claude Cahn: Divida et Impera: (Re)Creating the Hungarian National Gypsy.
The author provides an overview of Jewish history in the former Yugoslavia, with an emphasis on the lives and activities of women. Until the Holocaust, the diverse Jewish community prospered and Jewish women's organizations multiplied and grew. Jewish women were active in organizing and providing aid, in supplies and medical work, in every Balkan war. After the decimation of the Holocaust, only a fraction of the community remained. Yugoslavia enjoyed relative freedom of movement and freedom of religion under communism, however, and eventually some women's organizations were rebuilt and were able to continue their benevolent work throughout the modern conflicts, even at the high point of violence in Sarajevo. Each of the new countries continues to have its own women's organizations, even in smaller communities like Split, where the Jewish population is only 120.
Czechoslovakia. The author discusses the conceptual struggles faced by his generation, raised during the last two decades of the Communist regime, the impact of imported ideological infighting and factional splits on the makeup of an emerging community, the pop-appeal of Judaism to the Czech masses and the varied reactions of the highly assimilated Czech Jews to the eventual arrival of a dogmatic religious leadership.
The Second World War, and the Holocaust, brought this project to its end, laying bare the contradiction at its heart. Outsiders could not be assimilated since their loyalty was, by definition, always voluntary and therefore always seen as untrustworthy. As the historical epitome of the European outsider, Jews accordingly remained suspect despite all their ingenious efforts to assimilate. They experienced first-hand the ambivalence of the assimilatory drive, which was, from their point of view, to become like everyone else, and, from their hosts’ point of view, to deepen belonging by emphasizing difference.
Nowhere were the challenges and miseries of this process more pronounced than in the demographically complex nations of East-Central Europ. With the disappearance of Eastern European Jewry, the drama of Jewish assimilation came to an end.
In post-war Europe Jewish assimilation has, with the demise of the crusading spirit of nationalism, dissolved into a mundane and generalized show of conformity that runs alongside postmodernity’s emphasis on a seemingly infinite variety of privatized identities and choices. The sting has been taken out of Jewish assimilation, not because it was achieved, but because the life-and-death pressures to homogenize are no longer there.
Those few generations of European Jews who were forced to wrestle with the contradictions of assimilation were arguably the pioneers of the postmodern condition, making visible the ambiguities that mark contemporary existence for all Europeans. It is this that counts as the Jews’ most profound contribution to contemporary European culture.