Vladeck, B. (Baruch), 1886-1938

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Vladeck, a socialist and Jewish leader, was born near Minsk, Russia in 1886. He was involved in radical activities in Russia until in 1908, fearful of arrest and exile, he fled to the United States. He was a leader in the American Socialist Party and editor of the Jewish Daily Forward and served on the New York City Board of Aldermen (1916), City Housing Authority (1934) and City Council (1937). He was one of the founders of the American Labor Party. He headed a number of organizations, including the Jewish Labor Committee, which organized rescue work in Europe, and the Joint Distribution Committee, the coordinating agency of Jewish philanthropic disbursements abroad. He was active in his efforts to aid the daring underground operations of a group of dissident socialists known as the "New Beginning" in Germany during the early days of Hitler's rule.

From the description of Papers, 1907-1983. (New York University). WorldCat record id: 17269257

Although his career was shortened by his untimely death at age 52, Baruch Charney Vladeck (1886-1938) emerged as one of the leading figures of the Jewish socialist movement of the twentieth century. He was born Baruch Charney in Dukora, a small village near Minsk, Russia in 1886. His mother, left a widow with six children at age thirty-five, hoped that Baruch and his brother Samuel would become rabbis. But they soon rebelled against the traditional yeshiva education and were caught up in the ferment of radical, secularizing ideas in Jewish cultural circles in Minsk. Young Charney was soon conducting classes for workers in a labor Zionist school. The Czarist police found some of his recommended reading too liberal and early in 1904 he was arrested and sentenced to six months in the Minsk jail.

On his release he joined the "Bund," a Jewish labor and socialist party affiliated with the Russian Social Democratic party. He spent the next four years in fugitive life as an organizer (under the pen name "Vladeck") until, fearful of arrest, he fled to the United States in 1908. For three years Vladeck toured the country, lecturing to Jewish and socialist groups and obtaining a wide first-hand acquaintance with America. In 1911 he married Clara Richman, and they eventually had three children, May, Stephen and William.

Settling in Philadelphia, Vladeck became, in 1912, manager of the Philadelphia edition of the New York Jewish Daily Forward, the largest and most influential Yiddish daily in the United States. While in Philadelphia he studied economics and English at the University of Pennsylvania, and became an American citizen in 1915.

During World War I Vladeck emerged as a leaders in the Socialist Party of America. Moving in 1916 to New York City, he became city editor of the Forward, and only one year later he was one of a group of Socialists elected to the NYC Board of Aldermen. He was reelected in 1919 but lost his seat two years later when his district was gerrymandered. In the Socialist Party split of 1919 Vladeck energetically fought the Communist wing. In 1930 he ran unsuccessfully for Congress (8th District) on the Socialist ticket. Later in the 1930s, when the newly revitalized Socialist Party was again divided between Norman Thomas's left wing and a right wing led, after the death of Morris Hillquit, by Louis Waldman, Vladeck sought to play a mediating role. When the breach became final, he allied himself with the right wing and, together with David Dubinsky, became one of the founders of the American Labor Party.

Vladeck's early service on the NYC Board of Aldermen had quickened his interest in municipal housing, and in 1934 he was named by Mayor Fiorello La Guardia as a member of the New York City Housing Authority. This experience stood him in good stead when, in 1937, he was elected to the New York City Council on the ALP ticket. As majority leader of a labor anti-Tammany coalition in the Council, he initiated one of the first municipal slum-clearance projects in the country. In later tribute, New York named one of its great municipal projects the Vladeck Houses.

Meanwhile, as general manager of the Jewish Daily Forward, a post he held from 1918 until his death, and because of his own large gifts of oratory and persuasion, Vladeck had assumed a leading role in American Jewish life. He served as head of a number of organizations. In 1934 he founded and became first president of the Jewish Labor Committee, an umbrella group of Jewish labor and fraternal organizations which organized anti-Nazi activity in the U.S. and rescue and relief work for victims of fascism in Europe. Through his close ties with its president, William Green, he was able to induce the American Federation of Labor to endorse the anti-Nazi boycott and to set up a Labor Chest for the Relief and Liberation of the Workers of Europe. He also chaired the American ORT foundation.

A streak of revolutionary romanticism, a residue of his youth, always remained in Vladeck's character and showed itself most directly in his efforts to aid the daring underground operations in Germany, during the early days of Hitler's regime, of a group of dissident left-wing socialists known as the New Beginning. He called himself an "evolutionist rather than a revolutionist," and, although a lifelong Socialist, supported Franklin D. Roosevelt for president in 1936 and Fiorello La Guardia for mayor of New York in 1937.

Vladeck died of a coronary thrombosis on October 31, 1938. The affection in which he was held by the people of New York was demonstrated at his funeral, when over 50,000 persons massed in Rutgers Square, facing the Forward building, to hear funeral orations by Gov. Herbert Lehman, Senator Robert F. Wagner and other notables. Countless others lined the streets to view the cortege that bore his remains to Mt. Carmel Cemetery. The evolution of Vladeck's thought mirrors a similar adaptation by thousands of other socialists and radicals including the leaders of the large and powerful needle-trades unions. His career symbolizes the transformations wrought by American institutions on a European-shaped radicalism.

Sources:

Herling, John. "Baruch Charney Vladeck," American Jewish Yearbook41 (1939-1940): 78-93. Jonas, Franklin L. The Early Life and Career of B. Charney Vladeck. (Ph.D. dissertation, New York University, 1972). Vladeck, Baruch Charney. B. Vladeck in Leben un Shafen. New York: Forverts, 1936.

From the guide to the Baruch Charney Vladeck Papers, Bulk, 1920-1938, 1906-1958, (Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archive)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
referencedIn Jewish Labor Committee (U.S.) Records, Part I: Holocaust Era Files, 1934-1947 Tamiment Library / Wagner Archives
referencedIn Socialist Aldermen, Papers, 1917-1920. Elmer Holmes Bobst Library
creatorOf Cahan, Abraham, 1860-1951. Correspondence with Theodore Dreiser, 1918-1931. University of Pennsylvania Libraries, Van Pelt Library
referencedIn Charles Solomon Photographs, 1935-1960 Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archive
creatorOf Baruch Charney Vladeck Papers, Bulk, 1920-1938, 1906-1958 Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archive
creatorOf Baruch Charney Vladeck Papers, Bulk, 1920-1938, 1906-1958 Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archive
referencedIn Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives Labor and Radicalism Photograph Collection, Bulk, 1940-1965, 1860-1985 Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archive
referencedIn Oswald Garrison Villard papers, 1872-1949. Houghton Library.
referencedIn Jewish Labor Committee, Chicago Records and Photographs, 1952-1994 Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archive
referencedIn Tamiment Library/Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives,. Tamiment Library general photograph collection [graphic]. Churchill County Museum
referencedIn Socialist Aldermen Papers, 1917-1920 Tamiment Library / Wagner Archives
referencedIn Solomon, Charles, 1889-1963. Charles Solomon photographs [graphic]. Churchill County Museum
referencedIn Abraham I. Shiplacoff Papers and Photographs, Bulk, 1915-1934, 1895-1962 Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archive
referencedIn New York Times Company records. Arthur Hays Sulzberger papers, 1823-1999 New York Public Library. Manuscripts and Archives Division
referencedIn Jewish Labor Committee Photographs, Bulk, 1940-1959, 1930s-1980s, (Bulk 1940s-1950s) Tamiment Library / Wagner Archives
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith Adler, Friedrich, 1879-1960. person
associatedWith Asch, Sholem, 1880-1957 person
associatedWith Asch, Sholom. person
associatedWith Berger, Meta. person
associatedWith Berger, Meta Schlichting, 1873-1944 person
associatedWith Berger, Victor. person
associatedWith Berger, Victor L., 1860-1929 person
associatedWith Charney, Baruch Nachman, 1886-1938. person
associatedWith Forṿerṭs (New York, N.Y.). corporateBody
associatedWith Hoan, Daniel W. (Daniel Webster), 1881-1961. person
associatedWith Jewish Labor Committee (U.S.) corporateBody
associatedWith Kautsky, Louise. person
associatedWith Kautsky, Louise. person
associatedWith Laidler, Harry W. (Harry Wellington), 1884-1970. person
associatedWith Lee, Algernon. person
associatedWith McDonald, Ramsey. person
associatedWith McDonald, Ramsey. person
associatedWith New York Times Company corporateBody
associatedWith Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives. corporateBody
associatedWith Shiplacoff, A. I. (Abraham Isaac), 1877-1936 person
associatedWith Socialist Party (U.S.). corporateBody
associatedWith Solomon, Charles, 1889-1963. person
associatedWith Tamiment Library. corporateBody
associatedWith Tamiment Library/Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives, corporateBody
correspondedWith Villard, Oswald Garrison, 1872-1949 person
associatedWith Wald, Lillian, 1867-1940. person
associatedWith World ORT Union. corporateBody
Place Name Admin Code Country
United States
New York (State)--New York
Subject
Labor--Religious aspects--Judaism
Public housing
Public housing--New York (State)--New York
Jews--Charities
Judaism and labor
Jewish labor unions--United States
Socialism
Jewish socialists--United States
Socialism--United States
Occupation
Function

Person

Birth 1886-01-13

Death 1938-10-31

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