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Bundist Counterculture in Interwar Poland

Jack Jacobs

Publication Year: 2009

In the years between the two world wars, the Jewish community of Poland—the largest in Europe—was the cultural heart of the Jewish diaspora. The Jewish Workers’ Bund, which had a socialist, secularist, Yiddishist, and anti-Zionist orientation, won a series of important electoral battles in Poland on the eve of the Second World War and became a major political party. While many earlier works on the politics of Polish Jewry have suggested that Bundist victories were not of lasting significance or attributable to outside forces, Jack Jacobs argues convincingly that the electoral success of the Bund was linked to the work of the constellation of cultural and other organizations revolving around the party. The Bund offered its constituents innovative, highly attractive, programs and a more enlightened perspective: from new sexual mores to sporting organizations and educational institutions. Drawing on meticulously researched archival materials, Jacobs shows how the growth of these successful programs translated into a stronger, more robust party. At the same time, he suggests the Bund’s limitations, highlighting its failed women’s movement. Jacobs provides a fascinating account of this countercultural movement and a thoughtful revision to the accepted view.

Published by: Syracuse University Press


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TItle Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. iii-v


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p. vii


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p. ix

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pp. xi-xii

My thanks to Prof. Henry Feingold, whose encouragement greatly facilitated publication of this book. My thanks as well to the late Abraham Brumberg, the late Victor Erlich, Solomon Krystal, Yitskhok Luden, and the late David Rogoff , all of whom lived in interwar Poland and commented on various portions of my work. ...

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pp. 1-7

In the years between the two world wars, the Jewish community of Poland was larger than any other Jewish community in Europe. The General Jewish Workers’ Bund, a political party that had been founded in Czarist Russia in 1897, exerted a growing influence among Polish Jews in the 1930s.1 Indeed, some argue that the Bund was the most powerful political party within Polish Jewry on the eve of the Second World War.2 ...

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1 The Youth Bund Tsukunft

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pp. 8-28

The Yugnt-bund tsukunft (Youth Bund Tsukunft ) occupies pride of place among the constellation of organizations associated with the Bund in interwar Poland.1 By the late 1930s, the Tsukunft , as this movement was widely known, had more than twelve thousand members, and had undergone a growth spurt in the Polish capital and elsewhere. ...

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2 SKIF: The Bundist Children’s Movement

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pp. 29-47

In the first few years of the twentieth century, children living in the Czarist Empire created a new movement, one made up of youngsters attracted to the work and ideals of the General Jewish Workers’ Bund.1 A generation later, similarly, a Bundist-oriented children’s movement was established in interwar Poland. ...

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3 Morgnshtern: A Bundist Movement for Physical Education

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pp. 48-61

The fact that a group of Polish Bundists saw fit to establish the Workers’ Society for Physical Education “Morgnshtern” (Arbeter-gezelshaft far fizishe dertsiung “morgnshtern” in poyln) can be explained, at least in part, by situating the creation of this organization in the context of the history of Jewish movements devoted to sports and physical education in Eastern Europe.1 ...

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4 The Medem Sanatorium

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pp. 62-81

The Medem Sanatorium, an institution for children at risk of contracting tuberculosis, was the crown jewel of the Bundist network in the interwar years.1 The educational principles on which the sanatorium operated were similar to those of the TSYSHO, with which it was affiliated. TSYSHO, however, was not founded as a Bundist entity, and originally included within its leading circles many educators who were adherents of other parties as well as a number of Bund members.2 ...

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5 The Bundist Women’s Organization

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pp. 82-97

Jewish women played leading roles in the Bund’s formative years and participated in that party in relatively large numbers during the years of the Russian Empire. However, the Bund had somewhat less success in mobilizing women in independent Poland between the two world wars than it had had during the czarist era. ...

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pp. 98-101

The Jewish Workers’ Bund, which was supported by only a limited proportion of Polish Jewry at the beginning of the 1920s, grew in power quite markedly over the course of the interwar period. The augmentation in the Bund’s power was both presaged and fostered by an increase in the size of certain of the movements most closely affiliated with the Bund, notably the Tsukunft , SKIF, and Morgnshtern. ...


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pp. 105-152


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p. 153

Selected Bibliography

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pp. 155-170


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pp. 171-185

E-ISBN-13: 9780815651437
E-ISBN-10: 0815651430
Print-ISBN-13: 9780815632269
Print-ISBN-10: 0815632266

Page Count: 280
Illustrations: 9 black and white illustrations
Publication Year: 2009

OCLC Number: 759158749
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Bundist Counterculture in Interwar Poland

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Jewish socialists -- Poland -- History -- 20th century.
  • Jews -- Poland -- Social conditions -- 20th century.
  • Poland -- Ethnic relations.
  • Ogólny Żydowski Związek Robotniczy "Bund" w Polsce -- History.
  • Jewish youth -- Poland -- Societies and clubs -- History -- 20th century.
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