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Youth Groups at the time of the Ghetto Testimonies Information Center about the Lodz Ghetto Timeline Youth Groups before the War

At the beginning of the 20th century, the city of Lodz was a vibrant Jewish center. Some 233,000 Jews—one third of all the residents of Lodz—lived in this industrial city, the second largest in Poland, on the eve of the outbreak of WWII. The Jewish community in Lodz established many types of schools, yeshivot, theaters and sports clubs. In the period between the two world wars, no less than six (!) daily Yiddish newspapers were published in Lodz. Almost one half of the Jewish residents worked in industry, which led to the development of a vibrant and self-aware Proletarian Jewish sector in the city, contributing to the unique character of the city’s wider community.In Lodz, religious and non-religious Jews, Zionists and secularists, socialists, revisionist and liberals lived side by side. The wealth and heterogeneity in Jewish culture and in worldviews found expression in the city’s political and public activities, as well as in the wide variety of youth movements. No less than 15 youth movements (it is possible this number was even larger) were operating in Lodz on the eve of WWII. The largest of them were the Zionist youth movements, but even the Zukunft  —the youth movement of the “Bund”—and the “Communists” took a hold in the hearts of many.

 

Members of the “Borochov” training kibbutz in Lodz, 1936 (click to enlarge) Membership card of Bnei Akiva, Lodz, 1935 Membership card of Bnei Akiva, Lodz, 1935

Members of the “Borochov” training kibbutz in Lodz, 1936

 (click to enlarge)

Membership card of Bnei Akiva, Lodz, 1935

 (click to enlarge)

 

The outlook of the various youth movements differed from each other, sometimes even in a polar fashion, but they were all occupied in local cultural and social activities, and were dedicated to developing self-awareness, responsibility and leadership among the youth.

Also operating in Lodz was the “Hechalutz” (Pioneering) center – to which all the pioneering youth movements belonged, and which was not conditional on prior membership in a youth movement. The pinnacle of “Hechalutz” in Lodz was the Borochov training Kibbutz, which was situated in the center of the city’s industrial area. In its eight years of existence (1931-39), hundreds of pioneers emmigrated from the kibbutz to Eretz Yisrael.

Principal Youth Movements Operating in Lodz on the eve of WWII

 

Dror-Freiheit Gordonia Hanoar Hazioni Hashomer Hazair Beitar
Dror-Freiheit Gordonia Hanoar Hazioni Hashomer Hazair Beitar
         
The Communists The Zukunft(Bund) Agudat israel Hashomer Hadati Bnei Akiva
The Communists

The Zukunft(Bund)

Agudat israel Hashomer Hadati Bnei Akiva

Also: Hatchiya, Hechalutz Hamizrachi, the Grossmanists, Young WIZO, Maccabi, etc

Youth Movements at the time of the Ghetto

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