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Social and Intellectual Origins of the Hashomer Hatzair Youth Movement, 1913-20

Author(s): Elkana Margalit
Source: Journal of Contemporary History, Vol. 4, No. 2 (Apr., 1969), pp. 25-46
Published by: Sage Publications, Ltd.
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Social and intellectual origins
of the Hashomer Hatzair
youth movement, 1913-20

Elkana Margalit

There are in Israel today 75 kibbutzim grouped in a special
association known as Hakibbutz Haartzi shel Hashomer Hatzair.
They are all handsomely landscaped, combine agriculture and
industrial enterprises, have a high level of production, and enjoy
a standard of living which by local levels can be regarded as
The collective name means The Territorial Kibbutz of the
Young Watchman, the words Young Watchman being the transla
tion of the Hebrew Hashomer Hatzair, a name which is still re-
tained although the leaders and a large proportion of the origina
members are now between 55 and 70 years of age. The movement
has a group of educational and cultural institutions, and the
members continue to be characterized by a specific cultural
identity and by political and ideological zeal in spite of the
considerable and often extreme ideological transformations the
movement has undergone.
At the same time these kibbutzim serve as the backbone of a
political party, the only Zionist-Marxist party still functioning
in Israel, known as Mifleget Hapoalim Hameuhedet - Mapam for
short; or, in English, The United Workers Party. They derive from
a non-political Jewish youth movement which came into being in
eastern Europe on the eve of the first world war. It is unique both
politically and socially in the multiple and protean character of the
social structure it has shaped for itself during the fifty-odd years
of its existence, namely, youth movement, kibbutz grouping, and
leftist political party. This essay covers its initial stages in eastern
Europe between I913 and I920, when members of Hashomer
Hatzair first went to Palestine.


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while a handful children of highly skilled and well-to-do craftsmen.31. However. their fathers were merchants. Th majority of those who founded the first Hashomer Hatzair kib and shaped their group objectives came from this part of the During the war the movement spread into Congress (under Russian rule).shop assistants. members of the liberal professions. A few had grown farms owned and administered by Jews. The vernacular used in branches of the movement was Polish. CONTEMPORARY HISTORY Hashomer Hatzair was born in the Polish province of G then part of the Habsburg Empire. on the eve of the first war.64. Most of them had studied at secondary schools whe language of instruction was Polish. The majority came from reason well-to-do Jewish . The litera- ture of the movement as late as I920 was very largely Polish. and where Hebrew was the language of cultural intercourse and 26 This content downloaded from 132.253 on Thu. 15 Dec 2016 16:32:46 UTC All use subject to http://about. an influential part of the movement originated in homes that were imbued with Jewish learning and the Jewish national tradition. and at a later stage those members wh from there played an equally important part in it.were a minority. Many of them belonged to circles that were assimilationist in language and culture. b agents. manual workers. particularly in the larger towns. At the time Galicia was still agrarian and rather bac inhabited chiefly by Polish and Ukrainian speaking peasant large Jewish urban minority. while a minority had at German-speaking institutions. they shared in the general impoverishme they still belonged to the upper middle classes in local Je society. and youth from r circles . and even today statements by those who were then its members display the influence of Polish literature and Polish cultural nationalism. particularly of the literary circle known as Young Poland. Most of the Hashomer Hatzair youngsters (known as Sho who arrived in Palestine in or immediately after 1920 were be I8 and 20 years old. no doubt. Dur war. A few were in their early twenties.jstor. Those who had not attende school . a diff which in youth movements is usually of considerable impo What matters is that the group had matured during the w while independent Poland after the war was struggling to boundaries. and it already enjoyed a ce measure of cultural and administrative autonomy. This experience was decisive in shaping their tude.

enthusiast. and that there could be no genuine sym- biosis with the majority surrounding them. But there were some who came from homes where the parents regarded themselves as Poles of the Mosaic persuasion. persons falling between various cultures. uprooted. that is. who were the first to try to leave the Jewish quarters both physically and spiritually and expected to acquire status and role in non-Jewish society. righteous man) or Rebbe (teacher). containing mystical. the spiritual and real leader of the Hassidic community. Yet it was not only the rejection by Polish society which affected them. even though the children could and did speak Polish and attended Polish schools. Others came from homes where Yiddish was the vernacular and where the full range of traditional Jewish orthodoxy was practised. 15 Dec 2016 16:32:46 UTC All use subject to http://about. Life was still effectively influenced by the late eighteenth century Hassidic (quasi-revivalist)1 and Haskala (enlightenment) movements. They found themselves rejected. the rich Yiddish vernacular. which began to spread in the second half of the eighteenth century. who delivers and is concerned for his followers and is a 27 This content downloaded from 132. filled with a sense of frustration and social and national deprivation.64. and in a somewhat different form still is. torn between their desire for the society to which they aspire and the society to which they have been restored. and emotional assimilation. In this movement a central part was played by the charismatic figure of the Tsadik (Saint. Galician Jewry as a whole had realized that there were no pros- pects for assimilation. and cul- turally. faith.253 on Thu. the small towns in which they lived still preserved their traditional way of life. were also the first to find themselves facing a barrier that set a term to their expectations. Yet by the eighties and nineties of the nineteenth century. the Jews of Galicia were still subject to unifying national urges. the traditional costume. while 1 Hassidism was. a mass religious Jewish movement. 1913-20 literary expression. It was only natural that Jewish intellectuals and students. socially. professionally. People in this situation have been classified by social psychologists as marginal men. economically. Polish society simply rejected them. and educational system.jstor. cultural. It regarded them as a foreign body even (and possibly all the more) when they spoke and thought in Polish and identified themselves emotionally with Polish national aspirations. ORIGINS OF HASHOMER HATZAIR. and revivalist messianic elements. They found themselves being returned to Jewish society in spite of their attempts at linguistic. they were young intellectuals on the verge of .31.

The inevitable reaction took shape in the emergence of a cultural nationalism. were still very uncertain in those years befor during the war.64. and religious values among the younger generatio gradually being eroded following the economic impoveris which accompanied their economic and social extrusion fr rejection by Polish society. CONTEMPORARY HISTORY Zionism and its predecessors were making considerable he But the power of tradition. 28 This content downloaded from 132. 2 Hashomer was an organization of Jewish watchmen or guards. It was from this cultural and social milieu that the two main organizations of what was later to be known as Hashomer Hatzair came into being. in eastern Europe and elsewhere.253 on Thu.31. to refrain from assuming responsibility towards society at large. founded in Palestine in I909. a social and sp fellowship that would dispel the sense of uprootednes immediate answer to their own problems.2 First there were the scouting and athletic Man of God graced with special powers enabling him to influence God's will and dispensation. It also had certain political aspirations and in general symbolized the pioneering spirit for the younger generation of Jewish nationalists. Zionism was n a practical choice. There were few political ments. Indeed there was a detachment from political activ general. which might have serv cohesive factor. The chief signs of this erosion wer movement from small country towns to larger urban ce overseas emigration. that is. and the inroads of secularization. 15 Dec 2016 16:32:46 UTC All use subject to http://about. Therefore the student and secondary s societies of a Zionist character before the war stressed the str against assimilation and for the most part engaged in hiking. and scouting activities. to inculcate its spir cultural. It aimed to defend the lives and property of the young Jewish settlements.jstor. the capacity of orga Jewish society to ensure continuity. Poss of going to the Land of Israel. Karl Mannheim de the German romantic intellectuals as 'alien to the world. Traditional Jewish society was simply un accommodate these young men and women who wer returned to the Jewish fold. These potential assimilants were mo the desire to find an alternative .. Its first members belonged largely to the Poale Zion Socialist Party. intellectuals who are alienated from the surro society tend in certain conditions to be apolitical.. to conc on individual inner experiences. socially unattached'. and to establish guard villages which would combine agriculture with regional watch and ward activities.

finally withdrawing from the entire territory in July I917.jstor. At the same time the Scout groups implanted a certain measure of national consciousness. some 400. and large numbers were expelled. fled in fear of the Russian invader. Those who remained behind under the Russian occupation suffered from want and pogroms. Scouting hardened the physique and will of the young Jew. but more to Vienna. more 'elemental'. Fathers and older brothers were conscripted. These qualities also became part of the heritage of the Shomer Hatzair type. the younger children found such work as they could. 29 This content downloaded from 132. The second component of Hashomer Hatzair consisted of student and secondary school societies which called themselves Tseirei Zion (Youth of Zion). where about 175. their devotion to learning combined variegated elements. and Bohemia. Scout- ing and communion with nature instilled habits of order and cleanliness. The two organizations united in 1913 under the name Hashomer. aimed to improve their knowledge of Jewish matters and were characterized by a Jewish national spirit.64. Moravia.253 on Thu. Almost half of the Jews of Galicia. followed the pattern of the Polish Scout organization with its disciplinary and even para-military character.000 Galician Jewish refugees were concentrated in conditions of great want and suffering. first established in I903. ORIGINS OF HASHOMER HATZAIR. But scouting played an important part in the spiritual balance and physical education of young Jews at that time. In the first world war the whole of Galicia became a war front. and fortified him against the difficulties of his life.31. a sense of duty and discipline. At the opening of hostilities the Russians invaded eastern Galicia and penetrated as far as Cracow. 1913-20 societies which in 1913 adopted the name Hashomer organization. 15 Dec 2016 16:32:46 UTC All use subject to http://about. and compensated for the intellectual and emo- tional hypertrophy from which he suffered. These societies. while reducing the tensions and anxieties which beset marginal men. These study groups. It made him more 'natural'. the name Hashomer Hatzair seems to have been adopted only in I919. Families were broken up and were left without means of support. some went to .000. to be sure. counterbalancing the 'pagan' or non- Jewish elements that might be held to derive from the Scout movement. carrying on the traditions both of the Haskala and of the casuistic system of reasoning in the Talmudic tradition.

and their exclusion from Polish society. Even when trians returned to these areas the possibilities of recon were restricted because of the shortage of food supplies materials. and introspective group. The Poles also consistently opposed the Jewish demand for national autonomy within the sovereign Polish state. in Lwow. The Judophobia of liberated and independent Poland was also felt in the schools. T serious pogrom. coincided with the Arm November I9I8. The establishment of an independent Poland at the en war also proved to be a bitter disappointment to the J politically and . the generation of the founders of Hashomer Hatzair. As inner compen- sation they developed a sense of purpose. thoughtful. and involved physical and ruination. A wave of anti-Jewish excesses spread over G the whole of Poland during the wars between Poles and U in Galicia in I918 and 1919. radical.253 on Thu. isolated. and there were anti-Semitic out- breaks on such charges as Jewish assistance to the Bolsheviks or evasion of military service. fulfilment of their 30 This content downloaded from 132.jstor. and in the ab- sence of any assured future that marked the years 19I4-20. thirsting for life. and for safeguarding of the status of minorities. During this general collapse of Jewish society. Polish pupils maltreated them. Jewish pupils and students were expelled. rootless. perplexed. and the war between the Pol Bolsheviks which ended only at the close of 1920. gay. Jewish social and political life was virtually p The press was strictly censored.31. 15 Dec 2016 16:32:46 UTC All use subject to http://about. mostly born round 900o. and anti-Jewish excesses in Galicia and Congress Poland during and after the war. They longed for roots and community identification because they were tense.64. grew to maturity. All their written and verbal state- ments show that the dominant experiences of their adolescence were refugee life in Vienna. and poetic. lacking security and without the least confi- dence in the maintenance of the contemporary social patterns and their own future social and professional status. Hence it is not surprising that they were a grave. a belief in a communal mission requiring their personal dedication. yet equally enthusiastic and full of faith. CONTEMPORARY HISTORY particularly in the districts near the front. while political leaders w in the army or in Vienna. the tragedy of Polish and Galician Jewry during that period. In brief.

253 on Thu. In Vienna they met Z. lasted roughly from 1915 to 1918 and had an important effect on their organization. it had about Iooo members when the refugee influx was at its height. and in the emergence of a leadership. and equally swiftly rejected them. and conducted their group activities in that language. whom they admired for their freedom. 15 Dec 2016 16:32:46 UTC All use subject to http://about. Even during the war Galicia continued to be the spiritual homeland of the movement. Young Austrian Jews did not as a rule meet the refugees. including members of the Jewish youth movement from Germany. journals. Nevertheless. one of the main figures of the German Free youth movement. Considerable influence was likewise exerted by the circle of refugee Jewish 3I This content downloaded from 132. they were also anxious. for instance). nor was there much contact between the latter and non-Jewish youth movements. funds. both Jewish and non-Jewish. tense. There they met other young people belonging to the western Jewish 'Blau- Weiss' movement.64. no matter how superficial. ORIGINS OF HASHOMER HATZAIR. to a degree that was almost neurotic. and organizations. The Vienna period during which the Hashomer Hatzair youth were refugees. spoke Polish. Vienna had exerted on them a western influence. They also met Martin Buber. They thirstily accepted all kinds of influences and contradictory ideas. This was achieved with their own meagre resources.jstor. calm- . Most of them continued to attend Polish high schools. They displayed considerable initiative and vitality. and when the war came to an end Galicia regained its prominence. I913-20 ideals in their own lives. with the partial with- drawal of the Russian occupying forces. with virtually no assistance from adult society.) The Vienna branch dominated the movement.31. Jewish refugees began to return as early as 1915. Indeed. (It might be more correct to describe this as the Vienna-Galicia period. since contact with Galicia did not cease even during those years. They attended the Jewish youth rallies held in 1917 and I918 on the initiative and under the in- spiration of Bernfeld. fervent in their zeal and their desire to reassess all values. particularly the Lwow branch. although they had reservations about their Jewish and Zionist inadequacies. Bernfeld and the group connected with the journal Jerubaal. and naturalness (in their relations with the other sex. which found expression in the establishment of institutions. who also helped to introduce the ideas of Gustav Wyneken. and restless.

jstor. and full of faith. the psycho-social conflicts and difficulties of the others. even after the experiences of war and revolution. The des- truction of Jewish society as it had existed before the war turned them into leaders of.31. whose distress often bordered on neurosis. preaching. singing.253 on Thu. to which Hashomer members gave their So it is not surprising that in I9I7 the first general H Hatzair publication appeared in Vienna and served to de essential identity. preachers to. educating. They had a thorough knowledge of Judaism and were equally familiar with Haskala. Without material resources and with rare self-dedica- tion. They came from well-to-do homes (study at the Seminary required an appreciable outlay and secured exemption from the army) and families which claimed descent from outstanding Jewish scholars and learned rabbis. Polish. Vienna also saw the beginn press that spoke for the united movement (the Scouts Tseirei Zion as mentioned) in a journal called Hashomer. CONTEMPORARY HISTORY intellectuals from their own country who had rallied journal Moriah. Hassidic. their concern and activity lay almost en- tirely within the educational and moral spheres. However. They were a group of intellectuals. were alien to . what was most important in this period was the emer- gence of leaders who gave expression to the longings of their generation and helped to educate them. and Jewish national literature. and speak to them in the 32 This content downloaded from 132. Some of them studied at the Vienna Rabbinical Seminary. formulating what they described as a 'world outlook' for youth. some of them slightly older than most of those who in due course would set up Hashomer Hatzair in Palestine. They were serious. 15 Dec 2016 16:32:46 UTC All use subject to http://about. The arts of mass manipulation and control. By origins and education. More experienced and more resolute than their younger companions. This was The Guide to Hashomer Leaders to hereafter as The Guide).64. with a marked talent for analysis and exposition. made little appeal to them. tools of the pro- fessional revolutionary. Class and political movements. and shaping a group identity for the younger generation. the view of society as a 'mass'. they could both express in pictures and symbols (ad- mittedly macabre and morbid on occasion). and walking with their younger members. and spokesmen for the younger generation. They remained introvert intellectuals. enthusiastic. they journeyed from town to town and village to village.

that is. By I919 Vienna was the centre through which persons expelled from Palestine by the Turks in the early part of the war were already returning home.jstor. the spiritual problem of being a Jew among the Gentiles. Hashomer Hatzair as a phenomenon was characteristic of east European Jewry in general. It is hard to estimate their numbers. reached them as well. and had imbibed the fervour and devotion that mark the Hassidic spirit. Despite cen- sorship. so the youth movement as a whole grew rather than organized itself. A primary leitmotif during the Galicia-Vienna period as expressed in The Guide was the Hebraic-Judaic one. not the theme of Jewish economic and physical distress. also known as the Jewish Legion. 15 Dec 2016 16:32:46 UTC All use subject to http://about. In April I919 the total number for the whole of Poland was given as 7736 members in IIo branches. and news of the establish- ment of the Jewish Battalions. Many of them had been at the 'courts' of Hassidic rabbis. the friendly wit and shrewdness of the small Jewish town. and more particularly of Galician Jewry. with its own special brand of humour. During the war Vienna served as a centre of communication and information about developments in the Jewish world. and song. or of the Hassidic . Although its cultural sources were many and varied. In May I918 one of the leaders in Galicia estimated the membership of the movement. the Labour Party which had originated in the Land of Israel itself. and it was there that the Hashomer Hatzair met the elderly labour ideologist Aaron David Gordon and other leaders of Hapoel Hatzair. and the sense of frustration of the intellectual 33 3 This content downloaded from 132. at about 3000 in roughly 40 centres. At the same time they set out guiding lines and demanded action and responsibility.64. this was by no means negligible. Compared with the the total number of Jewish high school pupils. and were familiar with the Hassidic modes of expression. but it was only a small proportion of Jewish youth as a whole. and it was the first and only 'free' youth movement within that com- munity. Just as the leadership emerged spontaneously.253 on Thu. No doubt some among them were aware of political opportunities. I913-20 lively and comforting idiom of east European Jewry. ORIGINS OF HASHOMER HATZAIR. including the Vienna branch. the Viennese press reported the issue of the Balfour Declaration early in November 1917. This meeting was to have a very considerable influence. but the theme of 'Jewishness' itself. dance. but their main influence was felt during the period described imaginatively as that of the father at home.31.

young Jews were incapable of identification and emotional unity. in the spirit of the pr Bible was a source of inspiration to all who seek the di beautiful.64. this uprooted youth sought salvation and r from within. and dis- cussed the teachings of Schopenhauer as an example of the heroic approach to life. Th harmony in these elements within our character'...31. an almost pathological sense of deficiency. they were to be im religious spirit. Without being religious. suffered fro spirituality. 'We full and healthy men nor full and healthy Jews. They studied Nietzsche and Weininger. and the improvement of character and mores community of youth which should create its own in values. and whole and healthy Jews' This meant a return to the life not of the diaspora Jew historical 'Hebrew'. insisted as it listed the defects and shortcomings o Young Jews lacked resolution. the New Testament. in the sense of a moral revivalism and In the camps held in I918 the Shomer leaders praised revivalist movement which had revolted against religious and external ceremonials such as those of the Essenes and Has- sidism.jstor. They studied the Prophets. possibly involved a considerable withdrawal 34 This content downloaded from 132. energy. and the writings of Buber. CONTEMPORARY HISTORY young marginal Jew who continued to view himself society with Gentile eyes. 15 Dec 2016 16:32:46 UTC All use subject to http://about. that is. What was required was personal improvem within.253 on Thu. The reason for their character was the failure of the attempt to assimila contradiction between the norms and standards inculcated homes and the realities of Polish schools and streets. in almost eschatological terms and o despair. in terms of the rejec dominant group whose language and norms he had ad some the consciousness of their position reached the po hatred. They could no themselves to or love anything with all their might. and joie de vivre consumed with despair and Weltschmerz. immersed themselves in the study of faded w an out-of-date and irrelevant culture. The Guide demanded that they should on 'whole and healthy men. They were to be 'young Hebrews' i ness of the 'ancient Hebrews'.org/terms . This emphasis on the prophetic religious ideal. A these youngsters said. neither the Jewish nor the surrounding society coul solutions. on moral perfection.

not as it was then but as it could become in 35 This content downloaded from 132. Hence also their eager desire for an all-embracing and redeeming outlook on the world. Buber. and praised the 'incom- parable Russian youth who go to the people'. the watchmen. In his Drei Reden iiber dasJudentum. and made a distinc- tion between the ancient Jews and diaspora Jews. ORIGINS OF HASHOMER HATZAIR. and to education in Judaism. (This was written before the 1917 Revolution and refers to the populists. and what was described in I919 as 'heroic and zealous Zionism'.jstor. but in a Jewish fashion. and to the Hebrew language (not Yiddish).253 on Thu. Hence their devotion to the Jewish past. He called on Jewish youth to become men. to use Norman Cohn's term. In the early years of the war this was almost the sole link between them and the labour movement in Palestine. they kept in view from the start the image of the pre-war Hashomer. 15 Dec 2016 16:32:46 UTC All use subject to http://about. The Guide also stressed the community of fate of the youth and the Jewish masses. but was necessary as an inner compensation and balance for marginal man . The Guide in 1917 al- ready spoke of the objective of Aliya (immigration) and produc- tive labour on the soil of Israel. Yet it is impossible to conceive of any Jewish group of intellec- tuals in the struggling mass of east European Jewry that could remain absolutely alienated and separate. too. although not as something obliga- tory. for although the 'ancient Hebrews' and the morals of the Prophets were foci of self-identification for the youth of Hashomer Hatzair.) It called on the Shomrim to bring the message of national revival to the masses.31. he too looked back to the Jews of the patriarchal age. It rebuked Jewish intellectuals for the Chinese wall they had erected between themselves and the masses. and in the same year a group of Halutz (pioneer) Shomrim had been formed in Vienna with the aim of going to Palestine as ordinary workers and settling on the land. 1913-20 from reality. The goal must be to create a world under Divine rule.64.the 'compensatory phantasy' of eschatological movements. His ideals were 'all-embracing justice and all-embracing love'. During the Galicia-Vienna period they found in Martin Buber the principal spokesman of their ideas on the return to Judaism and of their psycho-social situation in general. and this phrase became a password and slogan for Hashomer Hatzair. referred to the 'deep cleft in our being' for which his proposed remedy was the self-affirmation of Jews as Jews and the passionate effort to achieve wholeness. He called for a return to the Jewish .

particularly existentialism. towards an ethical absolute.253 on Thu.jstor. state. represented by Freud and Adler. the religious-philosophic approach.64.3 Today these statements no doubt appear confused and misty. had this feeling even before the war. Arthur Schnitzler. Jerubaal. and of the undermining of all intellectual certainties. Le langage et la socidtd (Paris. The Viennese intellectuals in general. widespread fear and a feeling that things were coming to an end. among whose founders he includes Buber. rejecting the philistine. Land im Strom der Zeit. 'Judish leben'. Osterreich gestern. Der Jude 1918-19. The Hashomer Hatzair followers of Wyneken formulated his ideas as follows: Youth is an uncompromising aspiration toward ideals.5 The leading represent- atives of these movements served Hashomer Hatzair as the ex- ponents of their own psycho-social situation. I9I8-19. Drei Reden iiber das Judentum. Kohn. but for the young of those days they corresponded to a deep spiritual need. Otto Weininger (aus dem Jiidischen Wien der Jahrhundertwende) (Tubingen. Buber. 'Zion und die Jugend'.31. and pacifist aims. 25-6. 4 F. Conscious identification with the Volkstum and the community would over- come the division in the consciousness of the young. I962).org/terms . Karl Kraus. heute. which included Schnitzler and Karl Kraus. and family. humanist. and being eternal must not b 3 M. and it found expression in the Young Vienna Circle. Hashomer Hatzair found itself closest to that of Wyneken. Friedrich Heer4 wrote that the three major in- tellectual currents in Vienna before I9I4 were depth psychology. 15 Dec 2016 16:32:46 UTC All use subject to http://about. with its demand for uncompromising morality as a basis for a specific youth culture with ethical socialist. 5 H. materialist culture of the bourgeoisie and the anti- semitism which was already permeating German youth move- ments. Throughout Europe there was a sense of decline and collapse. Heer looked on all three as a search for certainty and faith in the face of the impending collapse of the Habsburg Empire. More recently Lefebvre des- cribed the intellectual currents in Vienna round about I9IO as a reflection of the collapse of society. of whom many were Jewish. I966). morgen (Vienn I959). Heer. H. 36 This content downloaded from 132. It was characteristic of this situation that of all the various ten- dencies then operating in the German youth movement. CONTEMPORARY HISTORY accordance with its moral and messianic mission. It is an eternal cultural valu bearing its own moral ideals. Lefebvre. and the literary efflorescence.

Youth is therefore called upon to establish its own culture within its own free community and without any compulsion or imposition of opinions on the part of adults. to exert themselves at school.L. G. in connection with pioneer training away from home and emigration to Palestine. they were as far from them as from Wilhelmine society. It called on young Jews to honour family practices. 1964): W. On the contrary.jstor. Young Germany (London. and it did bear a certain resemblance to the Wander- vogel. Die NeueJugend (Munich. Schule und Jugendkultur (Jena. This was their protest against and rejection of the family with its authoritarian structure. and marked by the flight from reality of many of the young into the bosom of nature and the historical past. a stage when the in- dividual was an incomplete and immature human being. Even the belief in God and adherence to the Jewish faith are referred to in the early Hashomer Hatzair documents. Prophets of Yesterday (London. Bliher. including the religious mores. came later. and in general the conventions of a society which they regarded as false. Its members did use similar ex- pressions. 37 This content downloaded from 132. I963). nor from an oppressive and tyrannous Jewish school and family . The young Jewish mother was urged to teach her children the principles of Jewish nationalism and Zionism in order to counteract assimilation. Wyneken.6 Not so Hashomer Hatzair. 1913-20 regarded merely as a stage in development. The Crisis of German Ideology (New York. Mosse. These young Jewish intellectuals from Lwow and Prszemsyl did not belong to the company of Karl Fischer and the Wandervogel. I9I9). given to malaise and cultural despair. H. but they were not in flight from a powerful.31. G. the Church. It was authoritarian. its literature often expressed esteem for the patriarchal-style Jewish family and the fear that it was on the verge of collapse. and philistine. Masur. secure. 6 See G. To this Wyneken's Hashomer Hatzair followers added the ingredient of traditional Jewish culture. hypo- critical. Historians in general are agreed that German Wilhelmine society could not satisfactorily accommodate its youth.64.253 on Thu. I962). I920). Laqueur. ORIGINS OF HASHOMER HATZAIR. 15 Dec 2016 16:32:46 UTC All use subject to http://about. to respect their teachers. Wandervogel: Geschichte einer Jugendbewegung (Berlin. Der Kampffiir die Jugend (Jena. I912). the German school with its oppressive discipline. 19I4). a fear that grew following the out- break of war. The revolt against the parents. and en- trenched Jewish society like the prosperous German middle class of those days.

it was largely because it expressed the ideas of pendence. with its inclination to religious and Hassidic revivalism. 15 Dec 2016 16:32:46 UTC All use subject to http://about. A similarity of language is to be found again in the denuncia of what they termed 'philistinism'. and the style and ideals of German Ro ticism found a possibly unconscious echo within Hash Hatzair. The term was never de but was understood to comprehend the characteristics bourgeois way of life. was even more marked after i clusion. the cultural influences of Vienna. Their frustrations on their return to a collapsing Jewish society need for complete revaluations. Contempt for bourgeois values was widesp European intellectual society. These aims were rep in terms of the 'objective spirit' and 'moral absolute' form by Wyneken. The idea that the young lofty moral and radical cultural mission appealed to their sense of mission. the pursuit of 'concrete' resul mockery of youthful idealism and of its belief in change a provement. with Freud and Bliiher. self-identity. and 'freedom' of youth. and their popularity is easy enough to und if one considers their rejection of the domestic Jewish en ment. namely Romanticism.31. It reached the movement through the German . Hashomer Hatzair was also influenced by another intelle trend in Europe.64. of disappointmen European civilization. made them open to such ide for specifically Jewish reasons.253 on Thu. and was not confined to the The writings of Ibsen and Nietzsche were well known in Ha Hatzair circles. CONTEMPORARY HISTORY If the Wyneken terminology nevertheless found a place in vocabulary. Martin Bube 38 This content downloaded from 132. and the theme of the 'decline of the originating before the war. In a sense the struct Galician society and the position of its intellectuals we entirely dissimilar from the social conditions which favou Romantic movement in late eighteenth and early ninet century Germany. Buber's 'all-embracing love' was equated wit 'Eros' of the German movement. Flight to the culture of the past also parallel tendencies in Hashomer Hatzair. particularly the va that emerged in Germany and Poland. denounced for moral and aesthetic r Hashomer Hatzair members used the term to express disa bation of those elements which they rejected in the adult environment: materialism. The mood of cultural despair.

the force of ethical radicalism and the mood of religiosity. Krasinski.jstor. People and Literature (London. Nationalism. 15 Dec 2016 16:32:46 UTC All use subject to http://about. the enthusiasm. the crucified nation. devotion to the legen- dary past and religious feeling. emotionalism. the martyr people suffering for the whole of humanity. Polish literature. of self-perfectibility and the significance of the individual. spiritual. the heroism. Mickie- wicz. by the tendency to poeticize life. to those generally classified as 'Romantic'. and imagination. All these characteristics were to be found to a greater or lesser degree in the youth movement. The Romantic style and the Romantic individual were marked by lyricism.7 Schultz and Wellek account for German Roman- ticism by the country's backwardness. the Kleinstaaterei resulting from having been a collection of petty dukedoms.A Study of the Land. national suffering. counting on revolutions that had either failed or not yet come about. The Polish homeland did not then exist as such. the romantic ecstasy. however. enthusiasm. in forms of expression. it was something in which the Pole had to believe. ORIGINS OF HASHOMER HATZAIR. Some 7 Cf. the Polish nobility. the absence of any unifying political or social organization.64. the slowness of industrializa- tion and the delayed emergence of the middle . The major Romantic Polish writers were exiles. concentrated on the past because they had nothing except the past and their high hopes. and national history were the central and decisive themes of this literature. concepts and character types. They clearly reveal the resemblance. as can be seen from even a superficial acquaintance with Hashomer Hatzair publications between 1917 and I920 and during the early years in Palestine. 39 This content downloaded from 132. evinced a dualism. Many of them were also to be found in Polish Romanticism: the gravity and pathos. as against the mechanistic and materialistic outlook. mystical. a frustrated. symbolism and allegory. abstraction. They were also inclined towards meditation and self-analysis.253 on Thu. The ideas of organicism and idealism. more particularly those in exile. Poland . a withdrawal from reality which arose from the absence of any practical connection with political and social realities. a helplessness.31. by a delicacy of feeling in particular towards Woman. Theirs was. G. and the soil of Poland was the Holy Land. I913-20 above all. I904). Slowacki. the sense of martyr- dom. and eschatological nationalism. Brandes. The Poles were the holy people.

which is based on pragmatic and rational ties. the adherents of Wynekenism came under fire. based on 'sympathetic sentiments'.jstor. experiential. It was intended to serve as a kind of family.the youth community or educational group representing an intimate emotional association of companions. One of the early members described it in the terminology of the German youth movement as Personen und Ideengemeinschaft .community of individuals and ideas. sports. but a cell to which they were fully committed. CONTEMPORARY HISTORY at least of these characteristics were undoubtedly to be fo Galicia as well. disregarded the life of the mind and 40 This content downloaded from 132. 15 Dec 2016 16:32:46 UTC All use subject to http://about. declamation. and passive aims as being totally unrelated to the problems of society. Hashomer Hatzair members were beginning to ask whether their organization would continue to be restricted to its own community and to passive meditation 'outside the world'. With the approach of peace and the return of the Galician refu- gees to their homes. or whether they ought to join in some public and social activity 'within the world'. Hashomer Hatzair developed a special form of societal relationship .31.253 on Thu. The critics rejected Wyneken's meditative. This was no ordinary study. the sense of identification was established by conversation. the youth movement contained all these . and defined as one that stresses 'emotional decisions and voluntary submission to a principle of salvation that makes men friends and brothers'. Given these psychological and social influences. in contrast to society. This concept of community is stressed in Romantic thought as well as in Buber. Its literature describes the small educational group as a community. held together by ties of love and brotherhood. consisting of eight to ten members with a leader of about their own age. At a large meeting of Shomrim in Galicia. by joint confession. for the affluent German society lacked ideals. unconscious and non- purposeful. from which emerged the style characteristic of the first Hashomer Hatzair members in Palestine: a style made up of des- pair. or rambling group. In its Jewish manifestation. and by shared silence. Within the group. and to enable them to live a full and varied life. It is defined as a category of 'organic' or 'natural' societal relationships. It was not sur- prising that his ideas had attracted German youth. and concerned for the moral improve- ment of the members. The con- cept has also been enlarged and diversified.64. outpourings of the soul and confession.

thought the essence of Hashomer con- sisted in the primacy of spirit over . in 'living life to the full' and in self-expression.253 on Thu. The meeting adopted no resolutions about training for and emigration to Palestine. as happened in other 'free' youth movements. in preparation for emigration to Palestine and a year of service there. discipline. Even before this meeting. some Hashomer Hatzair leaders had been calling for training in physical work within the Pioneer movement which also emerged in eastern Europe during the war years. But the years I918-I9 were years of anti-Jewish excesses. self-declaration. All these features connected it with Prophetic Judaism. the time had come to leave the youth movement and to choose a profession. belief in socialism not in its materialistic aspects. to think about making a living. They required youthful energy. and education in Zionism. This plea was made in particular by Eliezer Rieger. ORIGINS OF HASHOMER HATZAIR. and the goal of Hashomer Hatzair was only to educate a fine and healthy Jewish type. or about adherence to any political party. Impoverishment and pogroms reinforced their Zionist education in the movement. but as a system placing the interests of the whole society before the interests of the individual. I913-20 inner experience.31. an intellectual and idealistic young leader. Shlomo Horowitz. In general political and broad social ques- tions received little attention. when alone in their own youth community. or if non-Jewish society had been prepared to receive them.jstor. and so they had been carried away by Wyneken's exaggerated romanticism and peculiar morality and taken refuge in experiential individualism and fantasy. 15 Dec 2016 16:32:46 UTC All use subject to http://about. Other speakers rejected every political programme and party activity. and now that the war was over. and in activism. Opinions were divided. for them the Jewish question was a subjective one. If Jewish society had been capable of absorbing them.64. The sufferings of Jewish youth had different origins. the chance to train for and emigrate to Palestine seemed far greater than it had been until then. it is possible that the impact of the experiences they had gone through would have faded as they adapted themselves to social realities. They should prepare themselves for a life of labour in the land of their fathers. For many of those attending the meeting. not sentimental self-contemplation. which meant the personal realization and implementation of principles. Towards the end of I918 the Central Committee had called on the Shomrim to join the 4I This content downloaded from 132. born about the turn of the century.

along the lines represented by Ahdut Haavoda Horowitz drew his inspiration from the German party kn 8 David Horowitz was one of the most brilliant ideologists of H Hatzair while still in Galicia. was non and rejected socialism and the class war. For ideal was a moral and educational socialism based on Jew tion and rejecting historical materialism. Poale Zion. suggested that o they reached Palestine should the members decide on t they wished to join.253 on Thu. Some suggested joining the General Zionists was a non-socialist movement. who in due c to become the leader and principal spiritual mentor of t ment (which he remains to this day). In I920 Meir Yaari. Some of the Polish m were on their way to Palestine in November I918. a socialist party embra principle of class war. Hence Yaari rejected official communism enslaved the individual to 'the metaphysical concept of although he did not completely reject the possibility of clas Palestine. he himself felt drawn (albeit with reservations) to Ahdut Haavoda. The suggestion had been made ear they should join Hapoel Hatzair. 15 Dec 2016 16:32:46 UTC All use subject to http://about. From Hashomer Hatzair literature and reports of the it is clear that the members had no common opinion ab affiliation. consisting of t individually-linked groups which had emerged from the mo As against all these. CONTEMPORARY HISTORY Jewish Legion in the British . which had been established in Pal the close of hostilities. provide conditions were met. but em on a large scale developed only in I920. Nor was there any unity among the members bef emigrated regarding socialism as a practical policy. while others proposed joi Zionist left-wing Marxist party. there were those who rejected th idea of a political party. Both Meir David Horowitz8 believed that the aim of socialism sho to create economic conditions which would permit development and liberty of the individual within the co community. A further pro that the proper thing to do was to set up an independent H party in the spirit of the youth movement. and during his early years in Palestine Governor of the Bank of Israel and has written many books on e social problems.64. a labour group in Palesti while emphasizing the value of physical work.jstor. 42 This content downloaded from 132.

demanded a full share in the economy for every person 'through the equal distribution of work and bread'. a special way of experiencing things and the surrounding world. If Hashomer Hatzair members had no common political concepts. 1913-20 Die Geistigen. attracted those who were graduating from the movement and already planning their move to Palestine. Horo- witz.9 The idea of the community as an independent and voluntary association based on partnership. and socially it embodied a special mentality and communion. and was open to the penetration of political and party influences. The idea of collective settlement in Palestine. but he did not elucidate the means by which these objectives were to be achieved. which also served as the locus for the education of the individual and his moral improvement. ORIGINS OF HASHOMER HATZAIR. Lwow. and the school. periodical (Lwow). could be made a reality. Nowa Mlodziez. the Shomer Colony. emotionally. could be carried forward. Horowitz rejected the doctrine of historical materialism. culturally. against urban life and poverty. with common belongings and equality in economic satisfaction. against the street. and the ideals of the Prophets. was what made Hashomer Hatzair hostile to any form of mechanical.31. inspired by Wyneken and Kurt Hiller. 15 Dec 2016 16:32:46 UTC All use subject to . and disciplinary organization. would be based on common property. and the creation of a classless nation. periodical (Vienna.jstor. It was the mainspring behind the approach to the kibbutz. periodical (Warsaw). referred to as the Shomer Colony. I917). Warsaw). while other bodies crumbled away or were absorbed ? The organization went through many crises. what gave them the remarkable cohesive force which held them together in the diaspora and sustained them when they came to Palestine. which they called the 'organic' kibbutz. Hiller belonged to Gustav Landauer's circle and wrote for the journal Aufbruch. the first advocate of this kind of settlement. 9 Of the Hashomer Hatzair literature on which this essay is based. the home. Hazak We'emac. 43 This content downloaded from 132. Spinoza. of Jesus. the follow- ing may be mentioned: Poradknik dla Kierownik6w Szomrowych (Vienna. claimed that there was the place where the revolt of the youth against materialist society. Haszomer. compulsory. and Marx. What sustained it was that it was first and foremost a 'free' educational youth move- ment.253 on Thu. The new society. pacifist and socialist in tendency.64.

The characteristic Hashomer style is exemplified in such phrases as 'human revolu- tion from within'. 'Eros'.D. the search for self-adjustment. and the preference for the spiritual as against the material. enthusiasm and moral radi- calism among the youth. They dis- played many of the characteristics that investigators have observed in religious sects (as against churches). CONTEMPORARY HISTORY Believing in the primacy and liberty of the creative i within the community. the consciousness of exclusivity. 15 Dec 2016 16:32:46 UTC All use subject to http://about. The consciousness of independence and identity. such as how to behave in society.253 on Thu. faith in the inner truth that has been revealed to them. It was highly selective in its choice of members. Man had to make demands on himself. including the state. relations between one man and another. and socialism had to be morally 'aristocratic' and idealist. among whom there developed a strongly marked 'We' consciousness. since each and every person had individual. in the responsibility of the indi his capacity to decide about his own deeds. 'the ideal and great life'. Gor- don and Gustav Landauer. largely derived from the conditions within Jewish society during the war. Hashome warned against the subjugation of the individual to any apparatus. 'weltschmerz'. Life should be noble and beautiful. and 'salvation' recur again and again. generated in Hashomer Hatzair the sense of being an elite. how to sing and dance and when to be quiet. These more solemn preoccupations were supplemented by guidance on personal behaviour.64. So do large general- izations intended to comprehend and solve all the problems of the world. the intro- spective withdrawal into the community. A. Throughout Hashomer literature we re- peatedly find phrases like 'the aspiration to the beautiful life'. the Kingdom of Heaven need not be sought outside the human . Jesus and the Prophets. and above all those between man and woman. In the Shomer colony th indeed be common property and economic equality 'communism of life'. in addition to the attitudes referred to above. 44 This content downloaded from 132.31. a spiritual and moral vanguard. the words 'suffering'. Nationalism and Zionism had to be heroic. 'the revolt of youth'. 'the aspiration towards truth and beauty'. all charged with an enthusiastic emotionalism which has something religious about it and a good deal that is neurotic. The language was in part adopted from Dostoevsky and Nietzsche. Hashomer was presented as an inner truth.jstor. Freud and Bliiher.

Later. the factor of the sacred which appears to ensure the stability and continuity of a sect. social. 15 Dec 2016 16:32:46 UTC All use subject to http://about. differing from other varieties. More- over.31. the two kibbutzim established in Palestine by Hashomer Hatzair members differed from other kibbutzim by stressing their 'organic' character. embracing historical materialism. But in their scheme of redemption and salvation. cultural. Nor did the Hashomer Hatzair youngster ever reach that extreme point of alienation from society which alone makes the emergence of a sect possible. aspiring to the establishment of lofty personal and social moral standards. It was this peculiar character of the movement which largely explains the independent course it has taken until today. it is possible to find eschatological features. In 1926-7. the youth movement lacked the supernatural element. in its voluntarism. But it was still a specific Zionist-Pioneer Marxism. ORIGINS OF HASHOMER HATZAIR. its emphasis on the freedom and education of the individual. they tried to establish ties with like-minded independent socialist groups such as the ILP in Britain. Hasho- mer Hatzair was after all a youth movement which set itself rationalist. and their awareness of being an elect. as falling outside reality. with which they were always willing to . and political goals. 1913-20 Yet there is a difference between a religious sect and a common age-group in respect of the capacity of each for continuity. They rejected both the Socialist and the Communist International. But the parallel should not be pushed too far. and above all in deferring the idea of the social revolution until after Zionist aims had been achieved.jstor. Jewish and non-Jewish alike. class war. Religiosity is not in itself religion.253 on Thu. in the thirties. yet few would argue that the totality of man is exhausted by the utilitarian and the rational. and social revolution. These may be criticized as impractical. During the early twenties. Hashomer Hatzair grafted on to the youth movement and its kibbutzim a revolutionary Marxist ideolo- gy. when a severe economic crisis hit the country and the Zionist movement. the ties holding the members together. its members described themselves as independent Marxist revolutionaries. al- though it was (and remains) salvationist insofar as it was a protest and perfectionist movement. severely criticizing the latter for its opposition to Zionism and also on democratic grounds. At the same time they became an important factor in the Zionist organization. educational. as they were after the State of 45 This content downloaded from 132.64. the 'chiliasm of despair' which marks radical messianic movements.

These three elements do not always dwell at ease If it has overcome contradictions and dangerous deviat still remains the sole Marxist Zionist movement in the this is largely due to its heritage from the youth movem bodied in a consciousness of group identity of a very sp in the pioneering Zionist spirit. disappointment with Arab intransigence and Soviet policies. but the need for community is still great.253 on Thu. Recent developments have. Hashomer Hatzair was and remains a complex structu bining an educational youth movement with the kibbut life and a Zionist-Marxist political party of the 'thi variety.jstor. made deep inroads into the apparently seamless garment of Hashomer Hatzair . The rise of a new generation. CONTEMPORARY HISTORY Israel was established with liberal and non-socialist parti same time they have always sought ways to achieve co-oper tween the Jewish and Arab workers of the . although. however. but something much deeper is involved here. predictions would be foolish.the so-called ideological and political collectivity of the kibbutz. 15 Dec 2016 16:32:46 UTC All use subject to http://about. This may possibly herald the end of its independent existence. have produced a shift of opinion inducing Hashomer Hatzair to seek a block with the non-Marxist Labour Party in Israel. they a a binational constitutional regime as a method of achiev ful relations between the two peoples. and in dedication to th way of life. 46 This content downloaded from 132. Marxism may be losing ground in Israel. Political formations come and go.64.31. and internal developments within the kibbutz. given the present political alignments in Israel. the establishment of the State of Israel with a uninational constitution.