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Liebmann Hersch

Title: Liebmann Hersch
Inclusive Dates: 1904-1986
ID: RG 1461
expand icon Administrative/Biographical History

Pesach Liebmann Hersch (1882-1955) was born in a small town near Šiauliai, Lithuania (then part of the Russian Empire) on May 25, 1882. He showed remarkable abiities early in life. He received a traditional Jewish education, then entered the secondary school (gymnasium) in Kalisz, from which he graduated with a gold medal. He studied mathematics in the Science Department of University of Warsaw, but left for Switzerland in 1904. There, he was enrolled for one semester at the University at Vienna, but moved on to the University of Geneva, where he remained for the rest of his life.

Hersch received his Bachelor's Degree in 1908 and a PhD in Sociology in 1913. He received the university's Prize for Human Geography for his dissertation, "Today's Wandering Jew" (1913). He was appointed full Professor in 1921.

Hersch was a world-renowned scientist, and his seminal writings in demography and sociology laid the groundwork for modern studies in these fields. In 1949, he was elected President of the International Union for Population Studies, and in 1954, he chaired the World Population Conference held under the auspices of the United Nations in Rome. A prolific writer and gifted public lecturer and speaker, he pulbished hundreds of scientific papers, pamphlets, books, and articles in French, Yiddish, German, Russian, and Hebrew.

Hersch joined the Bund while still in high school, and was politically active while a student at the University of Warsaw. In 1912, he wrote the Bund-sponsored proclamation calling for a Jewish general strike (the first in Jewish history) in protest against the Beilis trial. He remained a Bundist all his life, and he defended the ideas of the Bund in the scholarly arena. He was particularly active in the Bund during the tsarist regime and after World War II.

Just prior to World War II, in a series of lectures, Hersch explored his Jewish credo, and these papers were subsequently published in book form as Mon Judaisme.  During World War I, he founded and co-edited a Bundist journal, Di Freie Shtime, and during the German occupation of France in World War II, he organized and led a relief organization for Bundists and their families who had escaped from France and were detained in Swiss refugee camps. He also became a relay point for information about conditions and activities within the ghettos in Poland, and published a newsletter about the anti-Nazi resistance called Letters to Friends.

expand icon Finding Aid Information
Inventory, English, 17 pp., typed; Supplement, 2pp., typed
expand icon Administrative Information
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Acquisition Note: Transferred from the Bund Archives of the Jewish Labor Movement to YIVO, 1992
Collection Material Type: Personal Papers
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