Polin: Studies in Polish Jewry, Volume 9

Poles, Jews, Socialists: The Failure of an Ideal

Edited by: Israel Bartal, Gershon David Hundert, Jerzy Tomaszewski, Magdalena Opalski, Antony Polonsky

The socialist ideals of brotherhood, equality, and justice have exercised a strong attraction for many Jews. On the Polish lands, Jews were drawn to socialism when the liberal promise of integration into the emergent national entities of east~and central Europe as Poles or Lithuanians or Russians of the Hebrew faith seemed to be failing. For those Jews seeking emancipation from discrimination and the constraints of a religious community, socialism offered a tantalizing new route to integration in the wider society. Some Jews saw in socialism a secularized version of the age-old Jewish messianic longing, while others were driven to the socialist movement by poverty and the hope that it would supply their material needs. But in Poland as elsewhere in Europe, socialism failed to transcend national divisions. The articles in this volume of Polin investigate the failure of this ideal and its consequences for Jews on the Polish lands, examining socialist attitudes to the 'Jewish question', the issue of antisemitism, how the growth of socialism affected relationships between Poles and Jews, and the character of Jewish socialist groups in Poland. The result is a significant contribution to the history of Jews in Poland. It also sheds light on the history of socialism in east-central Europe and the complexity of national problems there.

368 pages

Publication Date: 3/1/2008
Format: Paper
ISBN: 9781904113812