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The International Jewish Labor Bund after 1945

Toward a Global History

David Slucki

Publication Year: 2012

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.

Published by: Rutgers University Press

Cover

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p. c-c

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. i-vi

CONTENTS

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pp. vii-viii

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ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

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pp. ix-xii

I am often asked about the isolation that accompanies academic life. In fact, my experience has been quite the opposite. This book would not have come to fruition without extensive collaboration with friends and colleagues, and I am delighted to have the opportunity to acknowledge all those who contributed to this work....

A NOTE ON TRANSLITERATIONAND TRANSLATION

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pp. xiii-xvi

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Introduction

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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...

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Chapter 1

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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...

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Chapter 2

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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...

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Chapter 3

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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...

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Chapter 4

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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

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Chapter 5

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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...

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Chapter 6

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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...

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Conclusion

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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...

NOTES

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pp. 221-260

INDEX

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pp. 261-268


E-ISBN-13: 9780813552255
E-ISBN-10: 0813552257
Print-ISBN-13: 9780813551685

Page Count: 284
Illustrations: 10 photographs
Publication Year: 2012

Research Areas

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Subject Headings

  • Allgemeyner Idisher arbayṭerbund in Liṭa, Poylen un Rusland -- Influence.
  • Working class Jews -- History -- 21st century.
  • Jews -- Politics and government -- 20th century.
  • Jewish socialists -- History -- 20th century.
  • Working class Jews -- History -- 20th century.
  • Labor movement -- History -- 20th century.
  • Jews -- Politics and government -- 21st century.
  • Jewish socialists -- History -- 21st century.
  • Labor movement -- History -- 21st century.
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