The essay will address the history of West German Jewry using the concept of guilt as its guiding theme. Jews in West Germany had a bad conscience on account of living in the “land of the murderers.” This bad conscience not only distinguished them from other Jewish communities, it also explains much of what characterized West German Jewry from 1945 to 1989: its particular economic structure; its especially close ties to Israel; its preoccupation with democratization; its power arrangements; and its communal life. The essay will address these issues, and trace a development that led from a close-knit, ideologically homogeneous group to one that became ever more pluralistic in the 1970s and 1980s.

issue 01 / April 2010 by Anthony D. Kauders

The emergence of a seemingly harmonic symbiosis between Hungarian majority and Jewish minority in 19th century Hungary was a unique phenomenon in a European country where the proportion of Jews was close to 5 percent of the total population, and about 20 percent of the capital city, Budapest. However, after the shocking experience of the persecution in 1944 it was to expect that the factor –unlimited readiness for assimilation in the belief of the unlimited readiness of the majority for accepting it- that made the uniqueness of the Hungarian Jewry will cease to exist. Since quite a large group of the Hungarian Jews survived the Shoah it was not purely a theoretical question that what sort of identity strategies would emerge among the Jewish population of the country. How did the Jews react to the dramatic political changes that occurred in the decades following the Shoah, what kind of identity strategies they developed in the search for their place in the post-war Hungarian society? After a historical introduction the article discusses the changing socio-demographic and socio-economic characteristics of the post-war Hungarian Jews, Jewish politics in the decades of communist rule and finally the identity problems emerged in the post-war decades.

issue 01 / April 2010 by Andras Kovacs

The Jews in Poland after the Second World War.

Most Recent Contributions of Polish Historiography

In recent years Polish historians have shown a growing interest in the history of the Jews in Poland after 1945. Studies on this topic had started – although in a sporadic way – in the 1960s, intensified in the 1980s and at the turn of the twenty first Century they have focused on three main issues: post-war anti-Semitism; emigration and the creation of the State of Israel, and the restitution of property. The aim of this article is to set these studies in the Polish political and cultural context in which they were written in order to highlight elements of change and continuity within the historical debate.

issue 01 / April 2010 by Carla Tonini

State-Sponsored Anti-Semitism in Postwar USSR.

Studies and Research Perspectives

This essay offers a review of recent international historiography on “State anti-Semitism” in the USSR after WWII. After emphasizing the difficulties of reintegration of the Jewish population in the aftermath of conflict, the essay covers the different stages of anti-Jewish policies and focuses on the transition to a new phase in relations between Soviet Jews and Soviet state, coinciding with the struggle against “cosmopolitism” and the start of a more explicit anti-Semitic hate campaign. The author reconstructs the repression of the Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee and the invention of the “Doctors ‘Plot’, and finally recalls the debate about the alleged preparation of a mass deportation of Soviet Jews. Promising research perspectives for the future are indicated in local case studies that would clarify the validity of “collective psychosis” which affects the Jewish community in the postwar era, as well as offer more information on the existence of a plan to mobilize the population on the basis of Judeophobia.

issue 01 / April 2010 by Antonella Salomoni

“Prisoners of Hope” or “Amnesia”?

The Italian Holocaust Survivors and Their Aliyah to Israel

Out of the 38.000 Italian Jews residents in Italy in 1938, more than 4,148 were deported. Of these, only 312 survivors returned. This paper deals with the Italian Holocaust survivors’ migration to Israel, and investigates the reason why only a very small percentage of those who returned from the Nazi camps migrated to Israel, compared to a much higher percentage of Italian Jews who were not deported and made aliyah. Were they “prisoners of hope”? Did they decide to reintegrate into the Italian political, social, and economic context hoping that their relationship with Italy could be the same as if nothing had happened? Or was it a question of “amnesia”? Was the lack of memory of the Fascist persecution a price they had to pay in order to succeed in their request of a full reintegration or was it due to the attitude of forgetting the past that Jews shared with the entire Italian society?

issue 01 / April 2010 by Arturo Marzano