# 117 / Editorial

On February 10, 2022, the Saeima (Latvia’s parliament) passed the Law on Goodwill Reimbursement for Latvia’s Jewish community. The purpose of this law is to compensate for the spoliations carried out before the Nazi occupation by the Soviets. For in Latvia, spoliations were not the work of the Nazis. However, the fate of the Jews remains singular, as they are the only people who have not yet received compensation. The adoption of this law puts an end to a very long struggle – which Elie Petit tells us about this week, while looking back at the history of Latvia’s Jews.

Born 120 years ago in 1903, Vladimir Jankélévitch was the son of parents from Odessa and Rostov-on-Don who had fled anti-Semitism. This anniversary year provides an opportunity to discover or rediscover the work of the author of L’Imprescriptible – a book that attempts to maintain, “until the end of the world” according to its author, the mourning of all the victims of Nazism. Jankélévitch occupies a marginal and solitary position in the history of twentieth-century French philosophy. This is underlined by the first biography devoted to him — Françoise Schwab, Vladimir Jankélévitch. Le charme irrésistible du je-ne-sais-quoi (Albin Michel, 2023) – which takes a closer look at one dimension of Jankélévitch’s Jewishness, based on considerations of Jewish time. To what extent, asks Avishag Zafrani, does a driving force of time enable the philosopher to attach himself to Judaism, while distinguishing himself not only from tragic time, but also from the time of dereliction and anguish?

Europe is teeming with cumbersome monuments it doesn’t know what to do with. It has to negotiate the place of the problematic part of its pre-genocide heritage with the image it wants to forge for itself since then. The Lueger monument, one of Vienna’s tallest, atop which stands a four-meter statue of the Austrian capital’s anti-Semitic mayor between 1897 and 1910 – whom Hitler considered one of the greatest “German mayors of all time” – is a case in point. On the monument’s pedestal, the word “Shame” [Schande] was spray-painted for months, while a collective of Viennese artists and activists organized “shame vigils” [“Schandwache“]. The case seems to have found a solution: last week we learned that the City of Vienna will tilt Lueger’s statue 3.5 degrees to the right to change the viewer’s “perspective”. “I’d like to provoke an irritation or, even more, a moment of insecurity that will only be perceptible after a second look,” said artist Klemens Wihlidal. On the occasion of the announcement of this reinstallation project (scheduled for 2024), we are republishing “Disgraced: Whither Vienna’s Monument to Karl Lueger?“, Liam Hoare’s highly detailed investigation of the debate that has animated the Austrian capital for several years.

In Latvia, unlike in other parts of Europe, the spoliation of Jewish property did not occur during the Nazi era, but during the Soviet occupation that preceded it. The same process of property nationalisation also took place in Lithuania and Estonia. In order to finally recover their property and possessions, Latvia’s Jews had to lobby for a dedicated law. Elie Petit recounts for K. the stakes and results of this struggle by interviewing, before and after the law was passed, some of its promoters.

Vladimir Jankélévitch was born 120 years ago, in 1903. The first biography of the French philosopher, and Resistance fighter who went underground in 1941, was published this year. Avishag Zafrani examines a number of aspects of his relationship with Jewish consciousness after the Shoah, based on an interpretation of Jewish time as distinct from tragic time.

Last year, a collective of Viennese artists and activists rekindled the debate over the statue of Karl Lueger, the anti-Semitic mayor of the Christian Social Party in the Austrian capital between 1897 and 1910, whom Hitler considered to be one of the greatest “German mayors of all time”. Liam Hoare revisits for K. this memorial dispute, which still agitates Vienna’s political life to this very day.

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