The work of Rudolf Korsch published in 1925 “Jewish subversive groups in Poland” and resumed years ago in the Third Polish Republic introduces readers to the issue of the extremism of the Jewish left in interwar Poland, including the issue of Jewish communists.
As Rudolf Korsch reminds, the Bund was founded in Vilnius in 1897 and was active in Russia, in the territories of the Russian partition, Lesser Poland, the USA and all other diaspora countries. It was popular with workers, party authorities consisted of Jewish intelligentsia.
The party’s goal was a proletarian revolution by means of a bloody revolution and to establish a dictatorship of the proletariat and the rule of the soviets. This led the Bund to fight against tsarism, support the Bolshevik revolution, and in 1920, during the Party’s congress, to show solidarity with the USSR and Polish-speaking communists.
The Bund was not a socialist party like the PPS, but a communist and nationalist party faithful to Jewish nationalism, and its purpose was the social and national liberation of Jews on the road to the communist revolution. The Bund collaborated with the left and communists.
As a purely Jewish party, it aimed to improve the Jewish existence through the revolution. In 1901 it wanted Russia to be a federation of nations, and in 1904 it postulated the autonomy of Jews in Russia. The Bund demanded total autonomy for Jews, equality of Yiddish with Polish, introduction of Yiddish in offices, judiciary and education, social autonomy of Jews, secularization of Jewish communities, and introduction of secular state education.
The Bund also manifested its hostile attitude towards Polish statehood, supporting Soviet aggression towardsPoland in 1920. It considered Jews to be Polish co-hosts. The Bund controlled trade unions as well.
At the same time, The Bund rejected belonging to London’s Second International, not left wing enough, and the Third International, i.e. the Moscow Comintern, whose mistake, according to the Bund, was to support the dictatorship of the communist party instead of supporting the dictatorship of the proletariat, and excessive centralism.
The Bund promoted the unification of the entire left not belonging to both internationals. It did not want to be identified with the USSR, because the Bolsheviks undermined the faith of the workers in communism, and communism was necessary to achieve Jewish goals. According to the Bund, communism was correct; however, the USSR distorted it in its application. Nevertheless, the Bund did not rule out cooperation with the USSR. The party was divided inregards to the attitude towards the USSR – some were anti-Soviet and some pro-Soviet.
Bund ideas were close to those of revolutionary socialists and the teachings of the socialist theorist Jew, Karol Kautsky. The revolutionary socialists propagated the dictatorship of the proletariat as an expression of the will of the working class, and they considered communism as the dictatorship of the communist party authorities. There were no differences as to the form of the system and the scope of enslavement between communists and revolutionary socialists. Karol Kautsky recognized that the fall of Bolshevism was inevitable, which was supposed to force Jewish socialists to enter the anti-Soviet bloc. Kautsky also opposed the identification of communism with Jews because it led to an increase in anti-Semitism.
The Bund as a nationalist and communist party was in solidarity with other Jewish groups in their hatred of Poland and in the ethnic solidarity of Jews At that time it even cooperated with Jewish financiers and Orthodox Jews; because the Bunt supported the revolution, it did not support some Jewish groups in Poland, such as Kombund, Poale Syjon, Farajnigte, Cejre Syjon despite having joint social programs.
The Bund fought Zionism and the Jewish bourgeoisie, Poale Zion and Cejre Zion, because it considered the return to Palestine as a utopia. With time the disdain of Palestine began to evolve into sympathy, and the Zionists themselves were against bloody revolution. In addition, the Zionists supported the introduction of the Hebrew language as official, which weakened the Bund’s postulates aimed at making Yiddish the state language of the Second Polish Republic.
The Bund also fought Kombund because Kombund was completely subordinated to the Soviets, and the Soviets weakened the revolutionary mood of the inhabitants of the Second Polish Republic. Farajnigte was fought by the Bund as competition. The Bund had a joint program with Folkists. Jointly, Jews were supposed to be Polish co-hosts and enjoy autonomy, and Yiddish was to be an official language. Both parties aimed at secularization. Jewish intelligentsia as part of the Folkistparty organized a Jewish proletariat in the Bund.
The Bund fought Jewish Orthodox Jews because of their religiosity. The party accused the orthodox Jews of being encapsulated in the Jewish community and inability to use the Jewish proletariat for Jewish purposes. The Bund disregarded Jewish supporters of assimilation with Poles because assimilationists were few.
The Bund supported the leftist gentile parties in Poland,from the PPS to the KPRP, as far as they were compatible with the implementation of Jewish interests. It hid its support for the KPRP because it did not want to be seen as an openly communist party. In the PPS, the Bund supported all anarchic and destructive actions (strikes, street fighting) and fought all positive PPS actions as reactionary. Together with the PPS and independent socialists, the Bund fought fascism, nationalism and anti-Semitism.
The Bund failed to introduce numerous MPs but had many representatives in the local government in Poland. Bund councilors in the local government forum promoted communism. Bund cultural and educational activities aimed at proletarian revolution and the domination of proletarian culture. Bund Cukunft Jugenbund youth and trade unions, being the Bund’s branch, were very active. Bund social organizations attempted to create schools with a communist and socialist profile, whichresulted in the authorities of the Second Polish Republic refusing to register such schools. In retaliation, the Bund organized worldwide vilification of Poland as a country allegedly supressing Jewish education.
Bund activists infiltrated non-Bund Jewish school organizations. The latter had two weekly magazines, three monthly magazines and one daily newspaper in Poland. Itwas the most popular Jewish party in the Second Polish Republic During the first three years of the Second Polish Republic it organized 1170 rallies (not counting Warsaw), which had 117 local organizations. In 1922, it published half a million election leaflets, obtaining 80,735 votes (Poale Syjon Lewica 15,242 votes).
Jewish Communist Labor Bund in Poland
The Jewish Communist Workers’ Union Kombund was formed from numerous splitters from the Bund in 1922. Itunited workers and was active around the world as one of numerous communist parties. Kombund subordinated to the third communist international, which was an instrument of the USSR. The Kombund proclaimed that the communist revolution would provide Jews with autonomy and prosperity and would lead to the social and national liberation of Jews through the communist revolution.
In the plans of the Kombund, Jewish workers were to be the avant-garde of the communist revolution in Poland;therefore, in order to effectively direct Polish workers and use them as cannon fodder in the coming revolution, the Jews, according to Kombund, could not propagate ethnic slogans.
Kombund denied the legitimacy of Poland and other nation-states, except for a Jewish state in Palestine. The goal of Kombund was the dictatorship of the proletariat according to the Soviet model.
The Kombund social program was largely in line with the Bund program – both parties supported the communist revolution that was to ensure the well-being of the Jews. The Bund, however, did not submit to the USSR, while Kombund accepted Soviet leadership. For the good of the Jewish community, the Bund cooperated with Kombund. Bund and Kombund members often changed party affiliation depending on which party was agitating at that time. The Kombund did not fight other Jewish organizations and at most argued with them. Itcollaborated with the brotherly party of the KPRP, also belonging to the Comintern.
Management and membership in Kombund were often secret. Comrades used pseudonyms.
Despite the fact that Kombund did not run in parliamentary elections, in 1922 it supported the KPRP list “Association of Urban and Country Proletariat”. The communist fraction in the parliament of the Second Polish Republic represented the KPRP and Kombund. KPRP and Kombund jointly spread communist propaganda among workers. Kombund was part of the KPRP and the Comintern. It also used to take over other people’s organizations, such as trade unions or youth organizations, including those related to Judaism. Kombund did not have a permanent press. Itpromoted Yiddish, fought Judaism and the Jewish bourgeoisie.
Ferajnigte was founded in 1917 in Russia, but as the Polish branch of the Jewish Socialist Workers’ Party in Poland. In 1922 Ferajnigte united with Independent Socialists. After the unification, activists of both parties operated under the name Independent Socialists (the change of name was to serve Ferajnigte to more effectively lead to a communist revolution).
Independent Socialists did not verbalize loudly the will to carry out a communist revolution in order not to discourage Poles who were too weak to carry it out– the Polish proletariat was to be the tool of Jewish revolutionaries.
Workers were members of the party. The authorities consisted of intelligentsia. Ferajnigte was skeptical of Zionist ideas. It sought to create Jewish statehood where the Jews lived, by gaining autonomy for Jews. The autonomy of Jews was, among others, to consist of professional, cultural, educational, social protection, freedom of emigration and colonization, and recognition of Yiddish as an official language. It was to concern primarily Jews, but also to some extent other ethnic communities.
Ferajnigte described itself as a national-socialist party that saw the national liberation of Jews in the collapse of the capitalist system, so it was ideologically compatible with the Bund, Poale Zion, and the Comintern. It supported socialist revolution, workers’ councils and the dictatorship of the proletariat. Ferajnigte had no illusions about democracy and it considered the dictatorship a better way of exercising power.
The party fought against capitalism and called for all leftist internationals (including the Comintern) to unite. Itdemanded the unification of the world proletariat in the fight against capitalism. Ferajnigte did not join the Comintern, considering the Comintern too weak to carry out a global revolution (which was the goal of both Ferajnigte and Bund. In 1920 the Bund and Ferajnigte in Russia formed one party, the Universal Jewish Workers’ Union.
Ferajnigte was not interested in Poland’s independence and sought to liquidate the independent Polish state. In 1920, Ferajnigte wanted Poland to succumb to the USSR and make peace on the terms of the USSR. Poland was considered by this grouping to be a bastion of counterrevolution. Ferajnigte recognized that only the USSR would lead to the coveted socialist revolution and only communism would grant national rights to Jews. With time the USSR was criticized for not agreeing to the national autonomy of Jews.
According to the party, due to the fact that the Second Polish Republic was the largest concentration of Jews, according to Ferajnigte there should be a Bolshevik revolution, the appointment of workers delegate councils, nationalization, and the creation of a workers’ militia instead of the army.
Ferajnigte called for the preservation of national identity by Jews and internationalization, as well as the renunciation of their own national identities by non-Jewish workers. Ferajnigte supported emigration to Palestine and opposed assimilation, to which the Jewish bourgeoisie succumbed. It recognized that Jews were strong in alliance with the non-Jewish proletariat It wanted to unite the left after creating a strong left in Poland and excluding the existing Polish left.
Independent Socialist Party in Poland
The Independent Socialist Party in Poland was popularly called Independent Socialists. It was a section of the socialist international network. It was in Poland but wasnot the Polish party. Independent Socialists hid their Jewishness to lead the Polish proletariat.
Independent Socialists recognized that the Polish proletariat failed in 1920. The PPS was too Polish and not internationalist enough; hence, they inspired the splits in the PPS. The Polish proletariat, according to Independent Socialists, should be led by Jews but was to support the aspirations of the Jewish proletariat. Independent Socialists did not cooperate with the KPRP because it was too discredited and opposed to national laws for Jews, but they recognized that the communist revolution would provide Jews with national and economic liberation. The specificity of the party was recognizing that democracy was a path to communism.
Workers were members of the Independent Socialists, while party power belonged to the intelligentsia. Independent socialists were against democracy but in the name of political realism they were inclined to use democracy for their own purposes. They supported class struggle, communist proletarian revolution and dictatorship of the proletariat, unification of the international proletariat, liquidation of independent Poland for the purpose of global communist revolution. In their view, only communism was to guarantee the rights forJews.
Independent socialists supported the provision of privileges to national minorities, considered Jews co-hosts of Poland, demanded that Yiddish be granted the status of an official language, criticized the Jewish bourgeoisie and were not interested in Zionism.
Independent Socialists opposed assimilation and collaborated with Germany on the idea of establishing a Jewish state in Central Europe, Judeopolonia. Independent Socialists distributed their propaganda among young people in Polish and German. They wanted to mobilize the Germans to fight the Second Polish Republic. Independent Socialistsspecialized in agitating for their party at the events of other parties and social organizations. Numerous leaflets, the Częstochowa diary published in Yiddish “Naje Wort” (“New Word”) and the Krakow “Journal of Independent Socialists” served as propaganda. Independent Socialists were members of London’s international group.
Communist Workers’ Party of Poland
The KPRP (predecessor of the CPP, heir to the SDKPiLand PPS of the Left) was a party consisting of Jews, an instrument of Jewish policy, and an organization in which Jews consciously and deliberately were taking over powerin Poland. According to the KPRP, the Second Polish Republic was discriminating against the Jews and the Polish proletariat should support the realization of Jewish goals. In 1921, the KPRP ticket won 121,000 votes. The party’s goal was communist revolution and secularization.
The KPRP was a member of the third international Moscow Comintern, founded in 1917. The goal of the third international was a global revolution, the fight against social-chauvinism, (the patriotic left), and social-pacifism, the subordination of communist press to Moscow, the promotion of communism among soldiers, anti-colonialism, the infiltration of workers organizations, and the subordination of national communist parties to Moscow directives.
The First International group operating in London in the years 1864-1876 was the work of Marx (of Jewish origin). The Second, founded by Marxists in Paris,operated from 1889 to 1914. It established May 1 as workers’ holiday.The Fourth International operated in Vienna from 1920 to 1923 and did not want to subordinate to Moscow. The Fifth was re-established in London in 1923 and aimed to eliminate capitalism through class struggle, a global workers’ alliance, and the fusion of a Second and Fourth International groups. The fifth International group was composed of Jewish left-wing parties, PPS and Independent Socialists.
The original article, in Polish, can be found here: