views updated


BLAU-WEISS ("Blue-White"), first and one of the most influential Jewish youth movement in Germany, founded in 1912. It initiated a Zionist program, basing its organizational format on the German nationalist youth movement Wander-vogel (whose increasing antisemitism greatly contributed to the expansion of Blau-Weiss). Before and immediately after World War i Blau-Weiss groups engaged almost exclusively in outings and intimate gatherings, emphasizing nature appreciation and "manliness" in the manner of the German Jugendbewegung (youth movement). Instead of the cult of German peasantry and folk traditions, Blau-Weiss introduced new forms of celebrating Jewish holidays outdoors and an interest in the Hebrew language, Hebrew songs, and Yiddish folklore. The main aim of Blau-Weiss was to combine being a Jew with love of the German fatherland. The movement strove to strengthen the body, mind, and spirit of the young with an introduction to Jewish education. Blau-Weiss reached its peak in the early 1920s, with about 3,000 members. At this time a pioneering, Palestine-oriented tendency developed in its ranks and became, under the leadership of Walter Moses, its official program at the Blau-Weiss conference in Prunn (August 1922). The conference decided upon the establishment of a Blau-Weiss settlement in Palestine based not only on agriculture but also on precision workmanship in such fields as tool mechanics. It also decided to streamline the organizational structure of the movement along "hierarchical" lines, and to participate actively in Zionist politics. Subsequent friction with the German Zionist leadership, as well as the economic crisis in Palestine, thwarted this ambitious program. While many members of Blau-Weiss settled in Palestine, some of them prior to the Prunn conference, no specific Blau-Weiss settlement or enterprise materialized. The movement dissolved in Germany in 1929, retaining only the Praktikantenschaft, i.e., small hakhsharah groups. After the disintegration of the Blau-Weiss most of its remaining members joined the *Kadimah group.

Blau-Weiss also existed in Austria, where it flourished for a time. The Czechoslovak branch of the movement, which from 1919 called itself by the Hebrew equivalent, Tekhelet-Lavan, continued as a pioneering organization into the 1930s. The main impact of "the Blau-Weiss experience" was felt in Germany in the early 1920s among Jewish boys and girls of assimilated and semi-assimilated families. Alienated from their affluent parents and excluded from the "Aryanized" youth movements, these young people found their way back to the Jewish people and to Zionism.


H. Maier-Cronemeyer, in: Germania Judaica (Cologne), 8 (1969), 18–40, 59–64, 67–71; H. Tramer, in: blbi, 5 (1962), 23–43; W. Laqueur, in: ylbi, 6 (1961), 193–205; W. Preuss, Ha-Ma'agal Nisgar (1968); M. Calvary, Das neue Judentum (1936), 75–87; F. Pollack (ed.), 50 Jahre Blau Weiss (1962); Bergmann, in: G. Hanokh (ed.), Darkhei ha-No'ar (1937), 155–62. add. bibliography: J. Hackeschmidt, Von Kurt Blumenfeld zu Norbert Elias (1997), 179–262; G.R. Sharfman, in: Forging Modern Jewish Identities (2003), 198–228.