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A Guide to the José Moskovits Anti-Semitism Collection

Finding aid created by Katalin Franciska Rac

University of Florida Smathers Libraries - Special and Area Studies Collections

August 2017



Descriptive Summary

Creator: Moskovits, José, 1926-2014
Title: José Moskovits Anti-Semitism Collection
Dates: 1976-2017
Bulk dates: 1976-1979
Abstract: Correspondence collected by Argentinian reparation lawyer and president of the Jewish Association of the Survivors of Nazi Persecution, José Moskovits, as part of a survey on world opinion about anti-Semistism and attitudes toward Jews and Israel in the second half of the 1970s. Included are letters from various politicians, artists, scholars, literary authors, religious dignitaries, and others. Moskovits wished to present his findings in a book on anti-Semitism, which was never realized. The collection includes a draft of the introduction to the future book by Moskovits and his collaborator Dr. Asher Mibashan (1914-2005), the Buenos Aires bureau chief of JTA (Jewish Telegraphic Agency) as well as statistics and the filing system Moskovits used to manage the correspondence.
Extent: 9.82 Linear feet. 2 Boxes and 46 Binders.
Identification: MSS 0402
Language(s): Includes materials written in English, German, French, Spanish, Hebrew, Italian, Portuguese, and Yiddish.

Biographical/Historical Note

José Moskovits (1926-2014) was born in Hungary. During the Holocaust he was sent to a forced labor battalion, later escaped deportation, and joined the Zionist resistance in Budapest. He was captured and incarcerated in the notorious prison of the Arrow Cross in Budapest, where the paratrooper Hannah Szenes was also imprisoned. One of the underground Zionist organizations active in Budapest, the Hashomer Hatzair raided the prison and freed him and another twenty-nine prisoners. After the Soviet liberation of Budapest in January 1945, Moskovits became a leader of Dror Habonim (Labor Zionist Youth Movement) and was active in its covert efforts to transport Jewish survivors to British Mandatory Palestine. In 1947, the British arrested Moskovits and imprisoned him in Cyprus until the end of the mandate period and the declaration of the State of Israel. He volunteered in the Golani Brigade during Israel's War of Independence. He was wounded and honorably discharged in 1949.

In 1953, Moskowitz and his future wife Halina emigrated to South America. Before settling in Argentina, they lived for two years in Paraguay. In 1958 Moskovits opened a law office in Buenos Aires to assist Holocaust survivors from all over South America with reparation claims against Germany. In addition, he contributed to international efforts to capture Nazi war criminals: he maintained close contact with Simon Wiesenthal, set up safe houses for Mossad agents involved in the capture of Adolf Eichmann, and offered his law office as a cover for Israeli agents searching for the infamous Josef Mengele.

In 1967 Moskovits was named president of She'erit Hapleta, the Argentine Jewish Association of the Survivors of Nazi Persecution. In this capacity, he worked to raise awareness of the Holocaust in Argentina, organized survivor reunions and commemorations, participated in international Holocaust events and conferences, and helped holding demonstrations in support of the State of Israel. At the height of Argentina's Dirty War (1976-1983), Moskovits was forced to move to Israel from where he continued to represent his survivor clients.

The acceptance of the United Nation's General Assembly Resolution 3379 of November 10, 1975, "Elimination of all forms of racial discrimination," was probably the most immediate event that initiated the survey. It declared Zionism a form of racism, and one of the questions in the survey directly addressed this issue. (The survey sent out to Arabic countries and Israel did not include this question.) Between 1976 and 1978, of the 4850 addressees 741 reacted either by returning the survey with answers that vary in length: from laconic yes or no answers to long elaborations, often with attachments of journal articles, scholarly papers, and even art work; or letters that inquired about the scope of the survey. Others sent short notes excusing themselves from answering. Many refused to answer quoting official policy of the organization they were associated with or the nature of the position they held. Moskovits sent out another round of inquiries, probably in late 1978, this time to about 1000 persons, of which around 250 replies arrived.

It remains unclear why the book, which Moskovits and Mibashan planned to compile based on the results of the survey, was not realized. Drafts of the introduction are included in this collection. After his return to Buenos Aires, Moskovits continued his work to preserve the memory of the Holocaust and helping survivors claim reparations until his office closed in 2011. He gave a testimony to the United States Holocaust Memorial and Museum in 2005. He died in 2014 in Buenos Aires.


Scope and Content

The collection includes the letters, drawings, scholarly articles, and official declarations that Moskovits received in response to his inquiry; copies of his original letter and survey, and additional data regarding the names, titles, and addresses of the recipients of the survey. To each and every addressee, Moskovits sent a form and an accompanying letter explaining that as a Holocaust survivor, he had a very specific approach to anti-Semitism and he was interested in the recipient's opinion on the questions of the survey. Unlike the letter, the survey forms were not uniform: a separate form was designed for Arabic and Muslim countries as well as to Israelis. Both the accompanying letter and the questions were sent out in Spanish, English, German, Portuguese, Italian, and French, depending on the addressee. An Israeli member of the Knesset expressed disapproval that Moskovits did not send the survey to Israelis in either Hebrew or Yiddish. Others, with few exceptions, replied in the language Moskovits had addressed them. Hence, the letters in the collection are in English, German, Spanish, Italian, French, Hebrew, and Yiddish, most of them are typed.

In July 1978, a statistical analysis of the correspondence was created, which showed the ratio of answers received compared to the number of surveys sent out. The data is organized by country and by profession. Moskovits grouped the addressees into six categories based on their profession or occupation: statesmen, diplomats, royalty, authors, religious dignitaries, scholars, journalists, and miscellaneous, the latter of which included artists, business leaders, and representatives of very different organizations. The replies in each of these categories, regardless of country of origin, were collected in separate binders; the answers of German statesmen, however, were housed separately from the rest of the politicians.

Moskovits's statistics suggest that his letters were sent to 150 countries. In contrast, replies arrived from only 87 nations. For example, only two letters arrived from East Germany and none from the other countries in the Soviet Bloc (Cuba included). The USA (592) and Argentina (512) received the highest number of inquiries. To Israel and to Federal Germany almost the same number of surveys, 336 and 338 respectively, were sent. The rate of response, however remained low: until July 1978 around 15 percent. Only in the case of countries where only one or two surveys were sent, such as Belize, Lichtenstein, Tonga, or the Cayman Islands, was the response rate 100 percent. With regard to the professional division, politicians were the largest group (1500) and their response rate is the highest among all the groups: 295 replies, which is close to 20 percent.

After receiving the answers, each letter was filed with an accompanying form that contains the name, address, country included, and the title of the addressee. It also records what type of survey (A to D) was sent out in which language. The received letters were also numbered.

In addition to the invaluable statistical summary, originally housed in two binders, a two-binder long alphabetized index by country lists all the names of the addressees noting if they responded to Moskovits's inquiry. Additional exchanges of letters, the different forms, photocopies, and un-filed original answers were kept in a separate folder.

Patrons in the Price Library will find the documents in the collection rehoused into archival sleeves kept in archival binders and in archival boxes. The collection is divided into two series. In the first series the documentation regarding the creation of the survey, including different versions of the survey, the above mentioned indexes, and Moskovits's draft introduction can be found. The answers that Moskovits received are included in the second series. The received letters are kept in an order that generally follows Moskovits's design. In addition to the categories that he established, separate categories of visual artists, musicians-actors-film makers, diplomats, lawyers and justices, social leaders and organizations, and businessmen were created. The letters in each category are arranged according the alphabetical order of the sender. Different letters by the same person are kept together and arranged according to chronological order, together with Moskovits'ss letter if available. Additional material sent to Moskovits is kept together with the accompanying letters except for oversize materials or newspaper clippings.

The answers not only demonstrate a very broad variety of opinions and views on anti-Semitism, but on related issues as well, such as human rights, freedom of speech, religious freedoms, theological questions, and more. The collection highlights the influence of the Cold War on the discussion of anti-Semitism worldwide and provides diverse views on the role of religious beliefs shaping modern anti-Semitism. Additionally, the reaction of Hassan II, King of Morocco, for example, illustrates the impact of the Arab-Israeli conflict on the interpretation of anti-Semitism in the 1970s and the effect of the UN resolution on the tone of "soft politics" initiated by Moskovits.

The letters sent by leading intellectuals, politicians, artists, journalists, and thinkers, such as Isaiah Berlin, Zbigniew Brzezinski, John Glenn, Elie Wiesel, Otto von Habsburg, Cardinal Ratzinger (Pope Benedict XVI), Herman Hesse, Alan Sillitoe, are fascinating and thought-provoking. As they are placed next to answers from Holocaust survivors, on the one hand, and people who had little direct connection to or first-hand experience of the Holocaust, on the other, they offer an insight of significant breadth and depth into the intellectual and emotional impact of past and current anti-Jewish sentiments and acts globally.


Arrangement

This collection is arranged topically and in alphabetical order in archival binders.


Access or Use Restrictions

Access

The collection is open for research.


Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

[Identification of item], José Moskovits Anti-Semitism Collection, Special and Area Studies Collections, George A. Smathers Libraries, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida.

Acquisition Information

This collection was acquired in 2017.


Contents List

Series I.



Volume
1 Moskovits's letterhead, survey forms, drafts of book introduction, and addresses.
2 List of addresses by profession and by country.
3 Statistics, index: Afghanistan - Argentina.
4 Index: Argentina (cont.) - Colombia.
5 Index: Congo - Finland.
6 Index: France - England.
7 Index: England (cont.) - Lesotho.
8 Index: Lebanon - Portugal.
9 Index: Porto Rico - USA.
10 Index: USA (cont.) - Zambia.


Box
1 Copies of addressee lists and biographical information on Moskovits.


Series II.



Box
2 Oversize letters, photocopies, newspaper clippings.


Volume
11 Visual artists.
12 Visual artists.
13 Visual artists, business leaders.
14 Diplomats.
15 Journalists.
16 Journalists.
17 Journalists.
18 Lawyers and justices.
19 Literary authors.
20 Literary authors.
21 Literary authors.
22 Musicians, film makers, actors.
23 Politicians.
24 Politicians.
25 Politicians.
26 Politicians.
27 Politicians.
28 Politicians.
29 Politicians.
30 Politicians.
31 Politicians.
32 Politicians.
33 Politicians.
34 Politicians.
35 Religious authorities.
36 Religious authorities.
37 Religious authorities.
38 Religious authorities.
39 Religious authorities, royalty.
40 Scholars and scholarly institutions.
41 Scholars and scholarly institutions.
42 Scholars and scholarly institutions.
43 Scholars and scholarly institutions.
44 Scholars and scholarly institutions.
45 Social leaders and organizations.
46 Social leaders and organizations.



Selected Subjects and Access Terms

Antisemitism
Cold War (1945-1989)
Discrimination
Freedom of speech
Holocaust survivors
Holocaust, Jewish (1939-1945)
Human rights
Jews
Judaism
Theology
Zionism




For further information, please contact: Special Collections Access Services.

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