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Diamand, Herman

(1860–1930), socialist, editor, publisher, and parliamentarian. Born in Lwów to a middle-class Jewish family, Herman Diamand attended a modern Jewish primary school. After completing Realschule (a modern German secondary school system adopted in several countries) in Lwów, he studied law and political science at the university there and in Vienna, earning a doctorate in 1894.

Initially drawn to Zionism, Diamand gradually fell under the influence of radical politics. By the late 1880s, he had become a convinced socialist, rejected Zionism, and advocated the Polish nationalist cause. He was a delegate at the founding convention of the Polish Social Democratic Party of Galicia (PPSD) in 1892. In 1897, he was elected onto its executive committee and, from 1904 to 1909, represented the party at the International Bureau of the Second International.

During World War I, Diamand supported Józef Piłsudski and his Polish Legions, writing Yiddish appeals to Jews of the region to support the struggle for Polish independence. In 1917–1918, he was a Galician representative in the Austrian parliament. In independent Poland, Diamand served on the executive committee of the Polish Socialist Party and was a member of the Polish parliament from 1919 until his death.

In the period before World War I, Diamand had devoted enormous organizational and intellectual energy to Jewish matters. Although an assimilationist, he acknowledged the need to address issues that were particularly relevant to Jewish workers. He published and edited several Yiddish newspapers with the PPSD imprint, including the biweekly Di yidishe folksblat (Lwów, 1896–1897), the weekly Di yidishe folkstsaytung (Lwów, 1903–1904), and the short-lived Di yidishe folksshtime (Lwów, 1907).

Diamand opposed the idea of a separate Jewish workers’ organization in Galicia. Such a party, he argued, would only prolong Jewish separateness and impede Jewish social integration into Polish society. Accordingly, he sharply condemned the establishment of the independent Jewish Social Democratic Party (Żydowska Partia Socjalno-Demokratyczna) of Galicia in 1905. Diamand viewed Yiddish as a temporary tool to raise the cultural level of the Jewish masses. He believed that the eventual disappearance of Yiddish was not only inevitable from a Marxist point of view, but desirable as well.

As a member of the Polish Sejm after World War I, Diamand was an articulate and energetic voice in defense of the civil rights of Jews as individuals. He remained committed to assimilationism and spoke out against the demands of Jewish national parties. His memoir, Pamiętnik Hermana Diamanda (Memoirs of Herman Diamand; 1932), appeared shortly after his death, as did a collection of his speeches in the Sejm (Przemówienia w Sejmie Rzeczypospolitej [Speeches in the Republican Sejm]; 1933).

Suggested Reading

Maurycy Karniol, “Herman Diamand,” in Żydzi bojownicy o niepodległość Polski, ed. Norbert Getter, Jakub Schall, and Zigmunt Schipper, pp. 152–155 (Lwów, 1939); Henryk Piasecki, “Herman Diamand w latach 1890–1918,” Biuletyn Żydowskiego Instytutu Historycznego 106.2 (1978): 33–49; Henryk Piasecki, “Herman Diamand w okresie II Rzeczypospolitej, listopad 1918–maj 1926,” Biuletyn Żydowskiego Instytutu Historycznego 111.3 (1979): 63–76.