Treatment of Bund Members in the Russian Empire #russia


Gail H. Marcus
 

In researching my family history, I discovered that one relative died in a mental institution in 1914.  Someone raised the question of whether she might have been incarcerated for political beliefs, in particular, for being involved in the Bund.  

I've been able to find reports that the Soviets incarcerated people for political reasons.  The question is whether this practice had existed in the Tsarist regime as well.  I haven't been able to get as clear a picture of practices during that period. 

Does anyone know more about this?  Is there any literature documenting such practices?

Gail Marcus
Bethesda, MD


Bernard Flam
 

Hi from Paris,
Dear Gail,
I am historian and archivist of French Arbeter Ring / Workers Circle, our parents or grand-parents had been Bundists and migrants to France.
We have a lot of documents, direct testimonies and even pictures of what had been life and struggles of early Bundists under Tsarist regime.
Bund had been founded in 1897 in Vilno and most of its surviving archives are preserved at Yivo in NYC :
https://yivoencyclopedia.org/search.aspx?query=bund
Concerning your question, almost all bundists, Doyres Bundistn as we call these founding fathers of 1st generation, have known tsarists jails at a time or another from 1897 to 1914 or 1915 (after, Poland is occupied by German armies and Soviet revolution occurred in 1917).
In their books or memories, they always speak of jails, or deportation to Siberia (which will be called Goulag during SSSR), for a specified or an unknown duration.
I never read about mental institutions.
Bundists fought in their jails to be recognized as political prisoners and they succeeded often, with a more favorable treatment as common prisoners.
H. Leivick wrote about his own experience :
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/H._Leivick
In Yiddish and French translation, we can read his book "In Czar's prisons" which you can read (You must find an English translation if your Yididish or French is too ...) as a roman (comparable to Dr. Zhivago of B. Pasternak), it's fabulous.
Khavershaft (the old bundists salute)
Bernard Flam
Medem Center - Paris


Gail H. Marcus
 

Thanks for the response above, as well as another I received privately.

I do want to clarify one sentence in my original message--I am specifically wondering if there is evidence that Bundists or other anti-Tsarists were ever incarcerated in mental institutions.  My apologies for not being explicit in the final question in my original message.

Gail Marcus
Bethesda, MD