In this thorough work, historian Roseman details the wartime history of the Bund, a German socialist group whose aim was to model the perfect society. Bund members met in the forests for meditation and communion with nature, lived in a communal lodge, discussed self-improvement, and worked to create a better world through choirs and dance. Labeled an illegal group in 1933 by Hitler’s regime, the Bund sought to retain its ideals and integrity, but survival often meant making unpalatable choices: responding to military call-ups and watching members’ children participate in Hitler Youth organizations. But Roseman argues the group should be acknowledged as rescuers; members of the Bund actively sheltered two of its Jewish members and six other Jewish people, and mailed hundreds of packages to Jewish families deported to the Theresienstadt ghetto. Closely analyzing diaries, coded correspondence, postwar speeches made by Bund leaders, and interviews, Roseman paints a picture of a group trapped by circumstances who were unable to do much but watch as their Jewish neighbors boarded transports to Auschwitz. As such, he may not convince readers that the Bund were great rescuers, rather than typical German citizens who had to look away to save themselves. The analytical bent of the text may make it too slow for some readers, but those seeking illumination of a little-discussed facet of Nazi-era German life will find it worthy. (Aug.)
This review has been updated to clarify the number of people sheltered by the Bund from the Nazis.