Researcher Matteo Perissinotto participated at “Images of Remembrance and the Construction of Memories. The Legacy of the First World War in Central Europe (1918-1939)” conference. The conference was be held at Free University of Bozen-Bolzano, in South Tyrol-Italy from 7th November to 8th November.
His presentation was part of a panel War Memory and Fascism, titled ” Celebrations of the “Great War” in the “Redente” Jewish Communities (1918–1938)”.
Numerous publications, written from different perspectives and different academic disciplines, appeared during the centenary years of 2014 to 2018,
consolidating the image of the First World War as one of the most significant turning points of the twentieth century. European societies were unsettled by the war events, the hitherto unprecedented escalation of violence, deprivation and hardship as well as by political and revolutionary repercussions in the aftermath of the collapsing multi-ethnic empires and the subsequent rise of the concept of the nation state. These developments needed to be processed and given meaning at both the collective and individual levels that were expressed by several commemorative narratives or cultures in the interwar period. The latter will be the focus of the Conference “Images of Remembrance and the Construction of Memories. The Legacy of the First World War in Central Europe (1918–1939)”
The conference is a collaborative event of the Competence Centre for Regional History of the Free University of Bozen-Bolzano, the Centre for Jewish Studies of the University of Graz, and the Department of History of the University of Vienna.
Organization by: Christa Hämmerle (Wien), Gerald Lamprecht (Graz), Oswald Überegger (Bozen).
This paper aims to reconstruct the methods of celebration and the forms of monumentalisation of the so-called “Great War” in the Italian Jewish communities between 1918 and 1938, with particular reference to the former Habsburg Land. The decision to reach 1938, the promulgation of the fascist racist laws, is motivated by the profound patriotic significance given by the Jews to their active participation in the conflict. The aim is to highlight the convergences and divergences at the national level, paying attention to two communities that were annexed to the Kingdom at the end of the war: Merano and Trieste.
In these communities, the solutions adopted in the manner of celebration were different: while in Merano the monument commemorates the people dead for Austria-Hungary, in Trieste these are removed from the collective memory, to be relegated to the private sphere of remembrance. Publicly, in fact, it was decided to celebrate only the volunteers and the “irredentisti” fallen.
Sources of study for this research were monuments, tombstones, Jewish periodicals, commemorative publications and rabbinical sermons: these will be investigated languages, images and content, as they marked the commemorations and the monumentalisation of the conflict. Through these tools Italian Judaism claimed a Jewish identity complementary to the Italian one. The Jewish communities firmly adhered to national rhetoric, making it coexist, not without effort, with the demands of the Zionist movement. The aim was to sanction the conclusion of the emancipation process that began in 1848, at the same time demonstrating the inconsistency of anti-Semitic attacks aimed at delegitimising the full adherence of the Jewish minority to the national cause.