[Yiddish, Algemeyner Yidisher Arbeter Bund in
Lite, Poyln un Rusland, General Jewish Workers' Union of Lithuania,
Poland, and Russia] - A party founded in 1897 in Wilno (Vilna, Vilnius).
At first, it took part in underground activities in the Russian
partition. In 1906, it became an autonomous section of the Social
Democratic Workers' Party of Russia, from which it split off during the
First World War. In 1919, it was banned in Poland, Lithuania, Latvia and
In 1930, it joined the Socialist Workers' International. The Bund's
program supported a Jewish form of social democracy. The Bund saw the
Jews as a diaspora-deprived of their own territory, but having their own
culture. It opposed the domination of both the Orthodox Jews and the
Zionist program of emigration and the creation of a national homeland
outside of Europe. It proposed the introduction of cultural autonomy in
areas inhabited by Jews, advocated secular schools and saw Yiddish as
the Jews' national language.
In Poland, there was mass support for the Bund,
particularly in the areas of the former Russian partition (during the
1930's, its membership was estimated at 50,000). During the entire
interwar period, the party had strong representation in municipal
governments, and, during the 1930's, in the Jewish religious Communities
as well, although it never sent any representatives to parliament. The
trade unions associated with the Bund belonged to the Class Trade
Unions. The Bund had its own press: Folkstsaytung [Yiddish, People's
Gazette], Yugnt-Veker [Yiddish, Awakener of Youth], Walka [Polish,
Struggle] and Biuletyn Informacyjny [Polish, Information Bulletin].
The Bund devoted a great deal of attention to working with youth,
and sponsored the following organizations: "Tsukunft" (Yiddish,
"Future"), for working-class youth, and "Skif" (Yiddish, Sotsyalistisher
Kinder Farband, Socialist Children's Union, founded in 1926) - for
school-age children. In addition, there was also a Bund woman's
organization, YAF [Yiddish, "Yidishe Arbeter-Froy", "The Jewish Working
Woman"] and the "Morgenshtern" sports club [Yiddish, "Morning Star"].
Leading Bund members included W. Alter, A. Blum, H. Erlich, J.
Leszczynski and S. Zygelbojm.
During the German occupation, the party operated underground,
organizing civil and armed resistance in the ghettos, as well as
self-help and charity programs. It helped establish the Jewish
Coordinating Commission, and participated in the preparations for the
Warsaw ghetto uprising. M. Edelman, who was involved with the Bund,
assumed leadership of the uprising after the death of M. Anielewicz.
Zygelbojm was a member of the National Council with the Polish
government-in-exile in London.
After the war, the party's headquarters moved
to the United States; in Europe, it remained strong in Paris and
Switzerland. In Poland, the Bund backed the policies of the Polish
Committee for National Liberation and the Polish National Council. It
was a member of the Central Committee of Jews in Poland, and cooperated
with the Polish Socialist Party (PPS), from whose list it sent one
representative to the Sejm in 1947; the Bund also had several
representatives in city councils. In 1949, despite the protests of many
of the party's members, the Bund dissolved itself during its congress on
January 16, 1949. Most Bundists emigrated.
Although the party's political activities had come to an end, its
members continued to engage in cultural undertakings in its centers
abroad, creating Yiddish cultural centers, such as the Medem Library in
Paris, still in existence today, and the Bund Archives in New York.