Until 1944 Salonika was also known as the Jerusalem of the Balkans for its predominantly Jewish population. In August 1917 however, late Ottoman Salonika was ravaged by a great fire which destroyed most of its oldest synagogues. This article is an attempt to survey the “state of the art” on the sources available concerning the architecture and urban role of Salonika’s lost synagogues. The authors’ thesis, requiring further research, is that these synagogues played a poleogenetic role, in fostering both a settlement structure and cohesion of the social edifice.

issue 07 / July 2014 by Cristina Pallini and Annalisa Riccarda Scaccabarozzi

In late August 1861 Giuseppe Nacamulli published the first issue of his bi-lingual (Greek-Italian) newspaper Ισραηλιτικά Χρονικά/Cronaca Israelitica thereby inaugurating the first Jewish newspaper in the Greek speaking world. The appearance of a newspaper that advocated for full civil and political rights for Ionian Jews did not go unnoticed and provoked numerous responses of varying degrees of hostility and indeed praise. This article examines these responses within two broader contexts, namely the political and social ferment of the final years of British rule and the long-term, and often tense, co-existence of Jews and Christians on the islands.

issue 07 / July 2014 by Dimitrios Varvaritis

This article examines the antisemitic attitudes among the Lutheran clergy in Finland during the latter part of the 19th century. The Jewish question was discussed at the Finnish Diet by the estate of the clergy in order to determine if Jews could become Finnish citizens. By the majority vote this was considered undesirable. Adolf Stoecker’s antisemitic ideology, his the ideas of a Jewish conspiracy for world dominance, found Finnish support.

issue 07 / July 2014 by Tarja-Liisa Luukkanen

This article examines the life and works of Hajim S. Davičo in the context of the history of Serbian Jews, of the “Court Jew” Davičo family and of the Serbian and Triestine context of the late 19th and early 20th century. Hajim Davičo was an active proponent of linguistic acculturation, and in his career as a diplomat he proved total devotion to Serbian national cause, to the brink of complete assimilation. Indeed, his national allegiance put Davičo in the position to interfere even in the matters of the Serbian-Orthodox Church. The provisions of the Berlin congress, the Davičo family background and the need of Serbian bureaucracy for capable and educated men, have all contributed to the rise of this Serbian Jewish diplomat in less than two decades after the emancipation of Jews in Serbia.

issue 07 / July 2014 by Bojan Mitrovic

Today, the terms “identity-politics” or “recognition-politics” enjoy an important presence in public debate, and it is widely accepted that these terms started to be important especially the 1960’s. Yet, as this article wishes to prove, identity-politics form part and parcel of modern politics from its’ beginning some 200 years ago. In a nutshell, the essence of modern politics involves the constant process of power distribution, based on mass participation. Modern politics reveals a dichotomy between idealism propelled by concepts of ‘enlightenment,’ on the one hand, and the power and control of the various resources which in themselves constitute the essence of politics, on the other. Hence, various devices and mechanisms were created and used in order to close, or, at least, veil the gap. This historical process was accelerating in the 18th century, which gave birth among many others concepts to “ideology,” “enlightment,” “emancipation,” which in turn stood behind the emergence of mass-media. From this perspective, it becomes abundantly clear why “identity politics” must have been part of modern politics from the very beginning, and why the mass media became the de facto arena for political activity. All of these were present also in the modern-Jewish-history case: from early 19th century on, new Jewish leaderships were forging new Jewish ideologies, while trying to push them ahead through political groups whom expressed themselves through particular mass-media. Such was the case of the Jewish Daily Forward [JDF], an Yiddish daily newspaper, that was born in New York in 1897. The JDF was based on a specific sort of ‘identity-politics’ that in fact widen the gap between words and deeds. Hence, on the one hand it is a particular story of a particular Jewish case in a particular time and place. On the other, the JDF’s history provides an example of an early “identity politics” two generations before “identity” became a token and a reference-point.

issue 07 / July 2014 by Ehud Manor

“He’ll become an antisemite here anyway.”

Israel as Seen by Karl Hartl, the First Austrian Diplomat in Tel Aviv (1950–55)

The Austrian government recognized the state of Israel de facto on March 15, 1949. A year later Austria’s first diplomatic representative arrives in Tel Aviv: Consul First Class Karl Hartl, born in 1909 in Vienna and married to Franziska Grünhut, a Jewish physician. He was a socialist and during the war had been active in the French resistance. In his reports he describes and analyzes nearly all aspects of the political, social, and economic life in Israel and the relations with Austria. The longer he is in Israel the sharper is his criticism of the young state, in his opinion an “artificial state,” which has a border “that sweats blood.” He is convinced that Israel has to be content with “what it really is – a small, very poor country. And only peace with the Arabs will lead to this meager halfway-secure existence.” With respect to the Arabs, Israel has reformulated the old law of the desert: “No longer a tooth for a tooth, but a whole set of teeth for a tooth.” By the time Hartl left Israel in 1955 he called himself an antisemite.

issue 07 / July 2014 by Rolf Steininger

This essay examines how the main historical writings in languages other than Italian (mostly English) published in the first forty years after the end of the war addressed the role played in the arrests and the deportations of the Jews in Italy by Mussolini’s Italian Social Republic (Repubblica Sociale Italiana) between the autumn of 1943 and the spring of 1945. It discusses what reconstruction of this single, salient aspect in the Italian chapter of the Shoah has been advanced or accepted by foreign historians.
To this end, I have selected the (few) existing texts on Italy and the works offering a reconstruction of the Shoah in its entirety, adding the most significant essays published in periodicals or collective volumes and a few of the many books devoted to specific aspects of that event.
As I see it, a complex contagion has taken place between the historical reconstruction of the “final solution,” the ethical judgement on it, the containment policies towards post-war Germany, the quest by the successor states of the non-German collaborationist countries to pursue their own “moral absolution.”

issue 07 / July 2014 by Michele Sarfatti