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The International Jewish Labor Bund after 1945: Toward a Global History

Copyright Date: 2012
Published by: Rutgers University Press
Pages: 284
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  • Book Info
    The International Jewish Labor Bund after 1945
    Book Description:

    The Jewish Labor Bund was one of the major political forces in early twentieth-century Eastern Europe. But the decades after the Second World War were years of enormous difficulty for Bundists. Like millions of other European Jews, they faced the challenge of resurrecting their lives, so gravely disrupted by the Holocaust. Not only had the organization lost many members, but its adherents were also scattered across many continents. In this book, David Slucki charts the efforts of the surviving remnants of the movement to salvage something from the wreckage.Covering both the Bundists who remained in communist Eastern Europe and those who emigrated to the United States, France, Australia, and Israel, the book explores the common challenges they faced-building transnational networks of friends, family, and fellow Holocaust survivors, while rebuilding a once-local movement under a global umbrella. This is a story of resilience and passion-passion for an idea that only barely survived Auschwitz.

    eISBN: 978-0-8135-5225-5
    Subjects: History, Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-xii)
    (pp. xiii-xvi)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 1-12)

    In 1966, Noyekh Cukerman, Bund leader in Montevideo, penned a letter to his counterparts in Melbourne. Expressing his regard for his comrades across the Pacific, Cukerman noted he was impressed with reports of the Melbourne Bund’s youth movements. “It goes without saying,” he wrote, “that we are very jealous of our dear comrades in Melbourne. It is also not superfluous to say that we have a lot to learn from you.” The Melbourne Bund, he wrote, was “the only one that [was] reminiscent of the pre-war Polish Bund.”¹ This correspondence raises some interesting issues surrounding the development of the Bund...

  6. 1 A New World Order: The Bundʹs Postwar Transformation
    (pp. 13-45)

    The first world conference of the International Jewish Labor Bund in Brussels in May 1947 and the subsequent establishment of the World Coordinating Committee of Bund Organizations marked the beginning of a new chapter in the history of the Bund. The conference—the first of eight over the ensuing forty-five years—oversaw the formal establishment of Bund organizations in more than a dozen countries around the world, including the United States, Australia, Israel, France, Belgium, Argentina, Mexico, Uruguay, and South Africa. By this stage, Bundists had become all too aware that not only had their prewar Jewish society been devastated,...

  7. 2 On the Ruins of the Old World: The Bund in Central and Eastern Europe
    (pp. 46-74)

    In 1945, the Jewish community in Poland was tiny, with Bundists only a tiny minority of those who remained or returned from the east. Many Jews who found themselves liberated from Nazi concentration camps sought permanent relocation far from the site of their devastation, and many of those returning from the Soviet Union used Poland only as a transit point en route to North and South America, Palestine, or Australia. That is not to say that Bundist survivors did not try to revitalize their party in postwar Poland. Many did attempt this, and for around three years after the war,...

  8. 3 Between the Old World and the New: The Bund in France
    (pp. 75-104)

    Western Europe was much better placed than Eastern Europe for a Bundist revival, for a number of reasons. First, the fate of Western European Jewry was vastly different from that of their kin in the East, since they did not suffer the same proportion of casualties as in the East. The overwhelming majority of Poland’s Jewish population was exterminated, and, although more Jews returned to Poland initially, most did not stay long before heading west. In contrast, the Jewish populations of France, Belgium, Sweden, and Great Britain grew in the decades following the war, mainly due to the mass migration...

  9. 4 The Goldene Medineh? The Bund in the United States
    (pp. 105-138)

    The Bund in the United States was in a unique and paradoxical situation compared to its sibling organizations in other countries. On the one hand, the Bund’s natural center, New York, was the world’s most vibrant location in the production of postwar Yiddish culture and, alongside Israel, the world’s major Jewish political locus. It also had a proud tradition of Yiddish socialism from the late nineteenth century onward. On the other hand, by the time the Bund sought formally to reestablish itself in the New World, the Socialist Party had run its course and was in retreat. The postwar history...

  10. 5 New Frontiers: The Bund in Melbourne
    (pp. 139-172)

    The Melbourne Bund was perhaps the most successful of all Bund organizations in terms of impact and longevity. It ran a busy calendar of political and cultural events, and operated a children’s movement well into the twenty-first century. As late as the 1990s, it sponsored an annual Jewish cultural festival that attracted, at its peak, up to 15,000 attendees. It was represented on the local Jewish community’s governing body from the 1960s onward. Its members were community leaders from the outset, actively involved in the cultural and social institutions that formed the bedrock of the Jewish community. The Bund in...

  11. 6 Here-ness, There-ness, and Everywhere-ness: The Bund and Israel
    (pp. 173-210)

    The establishment of the State of Israel in 1948 presented a huge challenge to the Bund, which had, for the first fifty years of its existence, been vehemently anti-Zionist. Its hostility to Zionism can be traced back to the very early years of both movements, which were established in 1897, and their struggle continued right through World War II, for their conceptions of how to secure the future for world—or, more specifically, European—Jewry differed radically. Rather than bring together Bundists and Zionists, the situation in Europe in the 1930s and even through the very first years of the...

  12. Conclusion
    (pp. 211-220)

    Like many Holocaust survivors, Bundists tried to pick up the pieces of their shattered lives and rebuild new ones wherever they could in the decades following the war, a task that they undertook with gusto. Like other Jews who faced the arduous challenge of moving past their trauma to deal with the day-to-day concerns of reestablishing normality in their lives, Bundists did their best to come to terms with their loss and refocus their energies on ensuring Jewish continuity. In the new Jewish world order, however, the Bund could no longer be as it had once been, and Bundists set...

  13. NOTES
    (pp. 221-260)
  14. INDEX
    (pp. 261-266)
  15. Back Matter
    (pp. 267-268)