A new history of the Bund, an “idealistic group of Germans who, in a small way, did something remarkable.”
After the fall of the Third Reich, many Germans zealously asserted that they had never sympathized with the fascist regime; indeed, there were those few who truly resisted the scourge and even tried to rescue its victims. This history chronicles the significant contributions of one group, the Bund. Roseman (Director, Jewish Studies/Indiana Univ., The Wannsee Conference and the Final Solution, 2002, etc.), an award-winning historian of Nazi Germany, tells of a small group of leftist idealists that was established in the days of the Weimar Republic to improve humanity with lectures, exercise, pamphlets, and dance performances. Called simply the Bund, its “inspirational leader” was Artur Jacobs, who possessed “boundless optimism and self-confidence.” He was not Jewish, but his wife was. After the mob outrages against German Jews on Kristallnacht, members of the Bund, even under the watchful eyes of the brown-shirted offenders, offered succor and sympathy, fruit and flowers to those eventually headed to the concentration camps. They also supplied lifesaving Bund houses for some Jews. Providing help was exceedingly difficult. Relatives of some of the group’s adherents were in the Wehrmacht, there were constant and devastating air raids in the Ruhr homeland of the Bund, and rations were scarce. Not surprisingly, after the Allied victory in Europe, when reparations became available to proven victims of the Third Reich, Bundists, including Jacobs, lined up. Recounting their considerable trials, many, including Jacobs, exaggerated their wartime exploits and their suffering. With meticulous research into personal papers and other primary material, Roseman provides a singular footnote to the story of life in Hitler’s Germany. Reflecting on the story of the Bund, readers may ask again: “What would I have done?”
A welcome addition to the literature of the Holocaust and Nazi Germany.