José Moskovits Antisemitism Collection
Scope and Content
The collection includes the letters, drawings, scholarly articles, newspaper clippings, 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 included in various lists of the addressees. 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 the country and profession of the addressees. Moskovits grouped the addressees into six categories based on their profession or occupation: statesmen, diplomats, authors, religious dignitaries, academics, 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, and photocopies were kept in a separate folder.
Patrons in the Price Library will find the documents in the collection rehoused in archival sleeves kept in archival binders and in two 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, lists of addressees, including the above mentioned two-binder index, Moskovits's drafts of introduction, copies of Moskovits's files and several letters, and oversized materials can be found. The photocopies of correspondence are housed in 9 folders, each containing a lists of the names of the addressees. Oversize materials in folder 11 are letters or newspaper clippings that do not fit the sleeves. They were photocopied to appropriate size and the copies are inserted instead of the original document into the binders of the second series, which includes the answers that Moskovits received. The received letters are kept in an order that generally follows Moskovits's design. In addition to make slight alterations in some of the designations, the categories that he established, separate categories of visual artists, performing artists, royalty, diplomats, lawyers and justices, social leaders and organizations, and business leaders were created. The letters in each category are arranged by sender, according the alphabetical order and are numbered. Different letters by the same person are kept together and arranged according to chronological order, together with Moskovits's letter if available. Additional material sent to Moskovits is kept together with the accompanying letters except for oversize materials and newspaper clippings and full issues in folder 10 of box 1. The names of all the corresponding partners are compiled in a separate list housed in a binder. There are correspondences with 923 addressees in total included in the collection.
The answers Moskovits received 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 antisemitism. Additionally, the reaction of Hassan II, King of Morocco, for example, illustrates the impact of the Arab-Israeli conflict on the interpretation of antisemitism 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.
- Majority of material found within 1976-1979
- Moskovits, José, 1926-2014. (Person)
Language of Materials
Includes materials written in English, German, French, Spanish, Hebrew, Italian, Portuguese, and Yiddish.
The collection is open for research.
José Moskovits (1926-2014) was born in Hungary. During the Holocaust he was sent to a labor battalion, 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 along with 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 help Jewish survivors leave for British Mandatory Palestine. In 1947, the British arrested Moskovits, and he was imprisoned in Cyprus until the end of the mandate period. He volunteered in the Golani Brigade during Israel's War of Independence. He was wounded and honorably discharged in 1949.
In 1953, Moskovits and his future wife Halina (Elena) Parys Feldberg 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 motivated the survey. The resolution 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.
9.91 Linear feet (2 Boxes and 45 Binders)
Correspondence collected by Argentinian reparation lawyer and president of the Jewish Association of the Survivors of Nazi Persecution, José Moskovits, as part of a world-wide survey on antisemitism 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. Together with Asher Mibashan (1914-2005), the Buenos Aires bureau chief of JTA (Jewish Telegraphic Agency), Moskovits wished to present the results of the survey in a book on antisemitism, which was never realized. The collection includes a draft of the introduction to this planned book as well as statistics and the filing system Moskovits used to manage the correspondence.
This collection is arranged topically and in alphabetical order in archival binders.
University of Florida Smathers Library Building
This collection was acquired in 2017.
- Moskovits, José, 1926-2014. (Person)
- A Guide to the José Moskovits Antisemitism Collection MSS 0402
- Finding aid created by Katalin Franciska Rac (Updated in January 2018)
- August 2017
- Description rules
- Finding Aid Prepared Using Dacs
- Language of description
- Script of description
- Language of description note
- Description is written in English.
Part of the Special and Area Studies Collections, George A. Smathers Libraries, University of Florida Repository
George A. Smathers Libraries
PO Box 117005
Gainesville Florida 32611-7005 United States of America