Vienna and Thessaloniki are cities heavily laden with profound, diverse and heterogeneous Jewish pasts and histories. Their Jewish communities played crucial roles in the cultural, commercial and urban life of these cities as well as in the wider imperial states to which they belonged. They have not however been studied in a comparative way. The international workshop “Vienna and Thessaloniki. Two cities and their Jewish histories” thus seeks to capture the multiple ways in which the Jewish histories of these two multi-ethnic and multi-confessional cities are interconnected and entangled.
The organisers call for contributions by scholars working in Jewish history, and related fields, that focus on one, or both of these cities and that explore aspects of their entangled history. Guiding questions we pose are:
- Jews in Thessaloniki and Vienna shaped the social, commercial and cultural character of their cities over many centuries. How did the Jews position themselves within the larger urban space and within smaller space of the Jewish communities? How were they shaping spaces of “Jewishness” and/or Jewish differences?
- At the beginning of the 20th century and at the end of the Ottoman and Habsburg Empires the multi-ethnic populations increasingly saw themselves segregated along racial, religious, nationalist, and economic lines. How did these changes affect the ethnic identity of the Jews?
- The Shoah was a turning point in the history of Vienna and Thessaloniki. How did the cities, the communities and individuals deal with their history and memory after 1945? How did the Shoah affect (formerly) Jewish spaces?
- Photographers depicted central events in both cities (e. g. “Reibpartien” and the “Black Sabbath”). How do their different gazes shape the post-war memory? What use can historians make of these photographs?