A Pragmatic Alliance

A Pragmatic Alliance: Jewish-Lithuanian political cooperation at the beginning of the 20th century

Vladas Sirutavičius
Darius Staliūnas
Copyright Date: 2011
Edition: NED - New edition, 1
Pages: 281
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.7829/j.ctt1282jz
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  • Book Info
    A Pragmatic Alliance
    Book Description:

    Discusses the political cooperation between Jews and Lithuanians in the Tsarist Empire from the last decades of the 19th century until the early 1920s. These years saw the transformation of both Jewish and Lithuanian political life. Within the Jewish community, the previously dominant integrationists were now challenged both by those who believed that the Jews were not a religious but an ethnic or proto-nationalist group and those who believed that only with the abolition of capitalism and the establishment of a socialist state would Jewish integration be possible. Among the Lithuanians, the emergence of a modern national identity became increasingly prevalent.

    eISBN: 978-615-5053-18-4
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Introduction
    (pp. 1-18)
    V. Sirutavičius and D. Staliūnas

    The issue of political relations of Lithuanians and Jews in modern times has received little attention from researchers.¹ The ethnocentric view that prevailed in Lithuanian historiography for a long time did not leave much space for the history of other national groups, and when the relations of Lithuanians and people of other nationalities were finally addressed, the focus was placed on the Polish-Lithuanian conflict. The Lithuanians did not play a significant role in the context of political history of the Jews of Central and Eastern Europe—particularly before World War I—thus their modest place in historiography. The chapters collected...

  4. ESSAYS
    • LITHUANIAN JEWRY AND THE LITHUANIAN NATIONAL MOVEMENT
      (pp. 21-44)
      Mordechai Zalkin

      It is fascinating to note that there are virtually no references to the Lithuanian national movement or to the idea of the possible establishment of an independent Lithuanian state in the pre–World War I history of Lithuanian Jewry. In the wide range of contemporary Jewish press, literature, autobiographies, personal letters, communal documentation, rabbinical literature,¹ and public sermons, one can find just a handful of references, mostly of an indirect nature, to these two phenomena, which played a central role in the Lithuanian public discourse since the last quarter of the nineteenth century.² Even though it is understandable in the...

    • COLLABORATION OF LITHUANIANS AND JEWS DURING THE ELECTIONS TO THE FIRST AND THE SECOND DUMAS
      (pp. 45-76)
      Darius Staliūnas

      At the end of the nineteenth and beginning of the twentieth century the nature of political activity was undergoing transformations on the western borderlands of the Russian empire. Specifically, elitist methods were replaced by mass politics; in other words, political parties that not only claimed to represent wide layers of the population, but also depended on mass support in the success of their activity entered the political scene. These political organizations were differentiated not only on the ideological, but also on the national basis. The latter principle is predominant in the period under discussion, which can be illustrated by the...

    • LITHUANIANS IN JEWISH POLITICS OF THE LATE IMPERIAL PERIOD
      (pp. 77-118)
      Vladimir Levin

      At the beginning of the twentieth century, one of the most important centers of Jewish politics in the Russian empire was situated in Vilnius, nowadays the capital of the independent Lithuanian state. Surprisingly, the Lithuanians occupied only a marginal place in Jewish political discourse, especially compared to Poles and the Polish question.

      This article analyzes how various Jewish political forces treated the Lithuanian question, Lithuanian national movements, political and national demands, as well as their attitudes toward the Lithuanians. The article concentrates on the late Imperial period, that is the end of the nineteenth and the beginning of the twentieth...

    • LITHUANIA? BUT WHICH? The Changing Political Attitude of the Jewish Political Elite in East Central Europe toward Emerging Lithuania, 1915–1919
      (pp. 119-158)
      Marcos Silber

      A Jewish folktale tells of a meeting between Dr. Shimshon Rosenboim (1859–1934), head of the delegation of the newly born Lithuanian Republic to negotiations with the Soviets, and Adolph Joffe (1883–1927), head of the Soviet delegation:

      As the two delegates took their seats, the two Jews [Rosenboim and Joffe] faced one another. The first point of the agenda was determining the border between the two countries.

      “Dr. Rosenboim,” said Commissar Joffe, “how far do you propose the borders of your great Lithuania should extend?” His voice dripped with sarcasm, for after all, the representative of the great Union...

    • THE ZIONIST PRIORITIES IN THE STRUGGLE FOR LITE, 1916–1918
      (pp. 159-180)
      Eglė Bendikaitė

      The viewpoint that the Lithuanian Jewish community should not be considered an indivisible unit with an unchangeable agenda is slowly taking root in Lithuanian historiography. Lithuanian historians notice often that the changing geopolitical and socio-economic situation corrected the attitudes and actions of various Jewish political movements. On the other hand, according to some opinions, the influence of Zionists is overemphasized, particularly in the period of building the national Lithuanian state after World War I, while the role and influence of other political movements, above all those that did not have any more successors after the Holocaust (the Bund, the Folkists,...

    • LITHUANIAN ADMINISTRATION AND THE PARTICIPATION OF JEWS IN THE ELECTIONS TO THE CONSTITUENT SEIMAS
      (pp. 181-206)
      Vladas Sirutavičius

      The issue of the elections to the Constituent Seimas—one of the most important institutions of the modern, national, and democratic Lithuanian state—has not received enough discussion in Lithuanian historiography. The problem of participation (or, to put it plainly, activity) in the elections has not been addressed completely. Two approaches to this problem prevail in historiography. In the Soviet period, Lithuanian historiographers strongly doubted the officially published statistics claiming that “more than 90 percent of citizens” participated in the elections to the Constituent Seimas.¹ During the first session of the Constituent Seimas, its chairman Aleksandras Stulginskis, announced this figure...

    • BETWEEN POLAND AND LITHUANIA: JEWS AND THE VILNIUS QUESTION, 1918–1925
      (pp. 207-228)
      Theodore R. Weeks

      World War I and the early 1920s were a very turbulent period for East-Central Europe and the city known as Vilna, Wilno, and Vilnius.¹ This chapter focuses on one aspect of the city’s history during these years: the position of Vilnius Jews between the demands of two newly-formed would-be nation-states: Lithuania and Poland. Forced by circumstances to take sides in a national conflict that was not their own, the Jews of Vilnius attempted to navigate a diplomatic course between Lithuanian and Polish demands, trying to avoid offending either side. Unfortunately, but not surprisingly, the Jews attempts to remain “neutral” simply...

  5. DOCUMENTS FROM ARCHIVES
    • THE LITHUANIAN-JEWISH POLITICAL DIALOGUE IN PETROGRAD IN 1917
      (pp. 231-244)
      Darius Staliūnas

      The document published herein is an important source for Lithuanian-Jewish political collaboration during World War I.¹ The earlier historiography, while analyzing the collaboration of various political groups representing these two nationalities in 1914–1918, often focused on the events in Lithuania, particularly in Vilnius. The basic plot in this context was the activity of the Lithuanian Council (Taryba) and the problem of co-opting representatives of other nationalities into the Council.² It is understandable that attention was concentrated on the events in Lithuania, which from 1915 was under German occupation. World War I weakened the great powers and created a geopolitical...

    • DOCUMENTS ON THE LITHUANIAN COUNCIL OF 1918 IN THE CENTRAL ZIONIST ARCHIVE IN JERUSALEM
      (pp. 245-256)
      Šarūnas Liekis

      The formation of the Lithuanian Council has long belonged to the field of the nationalist or class-related narrative. The official historiography of interwar Lithuania gave rise to a pompous narrative that extolled the will of the Lithuanian nation and patriotism, while in the Soviet period the official historiography of the Lithuanian Soviet Socialist Republic treated the Lithuanian Council as exclusively engaged in “bourgeois” activity.¹ In both of these narratives very little attention was dedicated to another council, which included representatives of national minorities, among them Belarusians and Jews. It was not until the first decade of the Third Republic of...

    • THE LITHUANIAN ZIONIST CONFERENCE, VILNIUS, 5–8 DECEMBER 1918
      (pp. 257-270)
      Eglė Bendikaitė

      During its first session on 24 September 1917, the Lithuanian Provisional Council decided to invite representatives of national minorities to its presidium, and a month later, on 17 October it was decided that the minorities themselves should elect these representatives at their conferences.¹ The first Zionist conference held on 5–8 December 1918 in Vilnius crowned the efforts of the Lithuanian Zionist leaders after several unsuccessful attempts to call a general Jewish congress in Lithuania, and the negotiations of Lithuanian and Jewish representatives that lasted more than a year without tangible results.²

      The idea to address the Oberost authorities regarding...

  6. Name Index
    (pp. 271-274)