Anniversary of the formation of „Bund”

118 year ago, between 7th–9th October, founding congress of „Bund” was held in Vilnius. 13 delegates participated, including 8 workers.

Wide wide zrzut ekranu 2013 08 27 o 3.46.04 pm
„For Our Freedom and Yours” Bund’s bulletin

The history of the Bund comprises two main periods: from its establishment in Vilnius (1897) to 1918, when the activity pursued by it included the entire Russian Empire, followed by the work performed in independent Poland and the first post-war years (1918–1948). The Bund was one of the initiators and organizers of the Founding Convention of the Russian Social Democracy (1898) and, with intervals, remained its member until 1918. It also played an essential role in the Polish workers’ movement by creating a network of Jewish trade unions which up to the end of the 1930s had almost 100,000 members. The national distinctness of those unions, contrary to Bund’s ideology, was the outcome of non recognition by the PPS (Polish Socialist Party) of the right of Jewish workers to use their language in national unions. The Bund struggled for the establishment of correct relations between the Polish and the Jewish communities as citizens of the state and one homeland; it opposed Zionism, believing that even the creation of Jewish state in Palestine would not solve the problem of the 11–12 million Jews scattered in various lands. This was the reason why the Bund proclaimed the necessity to struggle for a cultural-national autonomy of the Jewish communities in each country. It played an important role in the birth of modern Jewish culture, free from the bonds of religion, and established a network of Jewish lay schools.

In various periods the Bund was the scene of serious ideological controversies. During the Unification Convention with the so-called Galician Bund (Cracow 1920) the majority voted for a resolution concerning access to the Comintern, which remained unrealised; at the following convention (Gdańsk 1921) the adherents of the Comintern already constituted a small minority. In 1930 the Bund returned to the Socialist International. The ideology cultivated by the Bund was Marxism, but its leaders opposed the Bolshevik revolution and combatted the views of Lenin as well as his organisational methods. 

During World War II Bund activists participated prominently in the armed struggle conducted in the ghettoes and by the guerrilla movement. [One of the key Bund representatives in the Jewish Fighting Organization and one of the commanders of Warsaw Ghetto Uprising in 1943 was Marek Edelman.] After the war, a convention held in Brussels (1947) founded a Coordination Committee for Bund groups of different countries, with a seat in New York where it published the monthly „Unzer Tsayt".

Source: Stefan Bergman, „A Contribution to the History of the Bund”, Jewish History Quarterly, no. 2 (62) IV–IX 1992, p. 107–131; Polski Słownik Judaistyczny.

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