General Jewish Labour Bund in Latvia
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The beginnings of the Latvian Bund
The first post-independence Latvian Bundist activities began with a congress of members of Unzer Tsayt in Riga in December 1918. In the fall of 1920, a Central Bureau of the Latvian Bund was constituted. The Latvian Bund became an autonomous organization affiliated with the Latvian Socialist Democratic Workers Party. The Bund had one seat in the Central Committee of the Latvian Social Democratic Workers Party.
The Bund, as well as other leftwing groups in Latvia at the time, was repeatedly targeted by far right elements. On June 20, 1921 the president of the party Avrom Braun was sentenced to death by an extraordinary tribunal and executed.
The party published the biweekly Di naye tsayt during seven years.
The relations among Jewish socialists and with the rest of the socialist movement were far better than in Poland; at the first parliamentary elections in 1918 two Bundists were elected, then four at the Riga municipal council election in 1919, on a common list of the Social Democratic bloc, which gained 36 of the 96 seats. According to Daniel Blatman, there were 500 active members of the Latvian Bund in 1934.
The Bundist members of the Latvian Parliament
As pointed out by Frank Gordon, "Between the two world wars Latvia was the only country where the Bund had a parliamentary representative of its own.".
I.(Itzhak?) Bärs represented the interests of the Bund in the Latvian Constituent Assembly elected in March–April 1920. He was later the director of a gymnasium where Yiddish was the language of education, and was removed from office after the coup d'état in 1934 on the grounds of "political unreliability". Dr. Noah Meisel, also a Daugavpils city council member, was subsequently elected for the Bund in the three first Latvian Parliaments in 1922, 1925 and 1928, but was not reelected in 1931. He was arrested and deported by the Soviet authorities after the Soviet invasion and annexation of Latvia in 1940 and died in exile in far Northern Russia in 1956.
According to Valdis Lumans, "the leftist Bund more often than not sided with Latvian Social Democrats more than with the Jewish bloc" (comprising Agudath Israel, the Zionists and the Jewish National Democratic Party).
After World War I, the Latvian Bund sent a representative, Raphael Abramovitch, to the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party (Menshevik) delegation at the founding Vienna conference of the International Working Union of Socialist Parties in 1921, where he was particularly active in association with the Menshevik leader Julius Martov. He "emerged as one of the recognized leaders of the Vienna Union".
Communist splinter group
In 1920 Jewish communists also formed the illegal organisation Kamp Bund (The Bund of Struggle), which functioned as the Jewish section of the Communist Party of Latvia. Its leading members included Mark Donskoy, Iosif Lensky and Abraham Gurevich.
- Daniel Blatman, Bund, The YIVO Encyclopedia of Jews in Eastern Europe
- Minczeles, Henri. Histoire générale du Bund: un mouvement révolutionnaire juif. Paris: Editions Austral, 1995. p. 390
- Gordon, Frank (Efrayim) (1990). Latvians and Jews Between Germany and Russia. Stockholm: Memento. ISBN 91-87114-08-9.
- Press, Bernhard (2000). The murder of the Jews in Latvia: 1941-1945. Northwestern University Press. ISBN 978-0-8101-1729-7.
- Latvia, Encyclopaedia Judaica
- Lumans, Valdis (2006). Latvia in World War II. Fordham University Press. p. 547. ISBN 978-0-8232-2627-6. Retrieved 2009-10-31.
- Liebich, André (1997). From the other shore: Russian social democracy after 1921. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. ISBN 978-0-674-32517-3. Retrieved 2009-10-31.
- Dribins, Leo. "The history of the Jewish Community in Latvia". Riga: Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Latvia. Retrieved 2009-10-31.