Stiftelsen för forskning inom områden med anknytning till Östersjöregionen och Östeuropa

The Bund in Sweden 1946-1954 : a Jewish workers’ movement at the crossroads

Ämne: Samtidshistoria
Projektledare: Håkan Blomqvist
Startår: 2013
Projekttyp: Projekt

The purpose of this project, The Bund in Sweden 1946-1954 : a Jewish workers’ movement at the crossroads, is to illuminate how the once strong Jewish workers’ movement in Eastern and Central Europe with its concentration to Poland, tried to answer the new challenges after World War II and the Holocaust. The movement’s social base within the Jewish proletariat had been annihilated, mass migration to the Zionist state project in Palestine accelerated and the state of Israel was declared. During the same period peace turned in to cold war and political movements took sides. Which socialism – and where? These questions confronted the remnants of the Bund scattered in camps and migration during the first post war years. Their radical democratic socialist perspectives were torned between soviet communism and western capitalism. Their non-Zionist jiddischkeit and principle of doikait, the struggle
for Jewish rights and cultural autonomy wherever Jews were living, had to handle the realization of a Zionist national state with socialist ambitions.

Newly found archives show that some sections of the Bund were also established in Sweden, among refugees and transmigrants, during these first post war years. Here, they met with a social democratic labor movement in power, engaged in building its national “people’s home” in a society undamaged by the war. How did the bundists in Sweden – organized in jiddisch sections (Arbeter-Ring) affiliated to the Swedish social democratic party – handle the political and ideological challenges of socialism and nationalism during their hardships as refugees after the Holocaust? Did they take side as the international Bund split between the developing Eastern and Western block? How did they rethink Zionism and the project of Israel? Would the experience of the Swedish social democratic project influence their further

The study connects to current theories of nationalism and ethnicity as applied to the field of labor movement research in political and ideological respects. It will bring new knowledge into a hitherto not researched aspect of the labor movement in the Baltic area – and also to the conditions of cosmopolitism (exemplified by the Bund) not only in the mid war period of radicalized nationalism but in the post war development of national welfare states.
The project is well rooted in the environment of labor movement research at the Södertörn university and will contribute to education on all levels.