#29 / Editorial

There is something astounding in noting that, eighty years after the Holocaust, the question of the “park” of European monuments dedicated to the extermination of the Continent’s Jews remains open: there are the monuments still in waiting (a phenomenon attested to by Lisa Vapné’s article published last week on the challenges of memorializing Babi Yar and Romano Bolković’s piece, published in K. last May 24, on a Croatia in constant search of its memorial); and then there are the cumbersome monuments that we do not know what to do with, in a Europe that must negotiate the place of the problematic part of its monumental heritage of before the genocide with the image it wants to forge afterward. The Lueger monument, one of the tallest in Vienna, at the top of which stands a four-meter statue to the anti-Semitic mayor of the Austrian capital’s Christian Social Party between 1897 and 1910, is a textbook case. Hitler, who spent part of his youth in Karl Lueger’s city, considered the latter to be one of the greatest “German mayors of all time.” On the pedestal of the monument, the word “Shame” [Schande] has been spray-painted for months and a collective of Viennese artists and activists organizes “shame vigils” [Schandwache]. The controversy, which still roils Vienna’s political life, is told this week in a very detailed investigation by Liam Hoare.

Benny Mer has erected a different kind of monument: a monument of words and stories in memory of Smocza Street, one of the iconic streets of pre-war Jewish and working-class Warsaw – of which nothing but a few traces remain. “Why am I interested in Smotshè?” asks the Israeli writer in Smocza, Biography of a Jewish Street in Warsaw. We are reproducing the book’s first chapter today. Mer never ceases to identify with Smocza Street; he wishes he might restore the vitality of the disappeared world of Yiddishland that no monument can ever adequately honor.

We have already told you about David Miller, a professor at the University of Bristol, who says that “the British public sphere is being taken over by the State of Israel and its defenders.” In a statement issued on October 1, his employer announced that “after a thorough investigation” the decision had been made that “David Miller is no longer a member of staff at the University of Bristol.” Rereading David Hirsh’s piece on the sociologist published in K. last May, one can see why the same press release might argue in effect that “Professor Miller did not meet the standards of behavior we expect of our staff, [leading] the University [committed to fostering a positive working and learning environment] to conclude that Professor Miller’s employment should be terminated effective immediately.” It goes without saying that for David Miller, everything that happens to him is Israel’s fault. His dismissal? The result of a “pressure campaign against me supervised and directed by a hostile foreign government.” And now, according to him – as reported in the Jewish Chronicle – “the University of Bristol is no longer a safe place for Muslim, Arab or Palestinian students”…

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.

‘Smocza: A Biography of a Jewish Street in Warsaw’, by Benny Mer, was published in Hebrew in 2018. Like an archaeologist, the street’s biographer exhumes it by tracking down all the traces he can gather (in the press, in poetry and fiction, in the rare photographs that remain, in the testimonies that the author could collect) to give an idea, an image, a reminiscence of Smocza, which he loves like a ghost that beckons you. K. is happy to publish the first chapter of Benny Mer’s investigation of this vanished world, which he says he feels at home in.

According to Bristol University Professor David Miller, ‘Britain is in the grip of an assault on its public sphere by the state of Israel and its advocates’. His outburst has led to outraged calls for his removal but also fulsome messages of support from the academic left. David Hirsh, author of ‘Contemporary Left Antisemitism’, explores the wider meanings and deeper roots of the controversy.

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Thanks to the Paris office of the Heinrich Böll Foundation for their cooperation in the design of the magazine’s website.