Oskilko, Petlura’s Aid and Pogrom Leader, is Assassinated in Poland

(Jewish Telegraphic Agency)

Vladimir Oskilko, Ukrainian Attaman, at one time Petlura’s aid and later his foe, was found murdered in his room in the town Grodek, District of Rovno.

The assassination occurred on Saturday evening when Oskilko was asleep in his room on the first floor. The unknown assassin entered the room through the window and shot Oskilko through the heart.

When neighbors assembled after the firing of the shot, the assassin had escaped, leaving no tracks on the ground outside the house because of the rain which was falling.

The Polish authorities are of the opinion that the murder was of a political character. There is, however, no evidence to support this opinion.

Many arrests among the Jewish population of Rovno were made, despatches received here state. However, no trace of the assassin was found. The police believe that the assassination was accomplished by a Communist. Anti-Semitic groups among the Ukrainians, hawever, are spreading rumors that Oskilko fell by the hand of the Jews in revenge for his pogroms in 1919 in the District of Rovno, for which they held Oskilko personally responsible.

Vladimir Oskilko, who was fifty years old, was the chief commander of the southwestern front in the Petlura army. Later he was named Governor of Rovno District under the Petlura government. During that time it was established that not only did he not do anything to prevent his soldiers from participating in the anti-Jewish pogroms, but he encouraged them in their acts of terror.

The Ukrainian newspaper “Vilna Ukraina” (Free Ukrainia), which was issued by Oskilko’s military staff at that time, conducted dangerous pogrom agitation daily. Wholesale massacres of the Jewish population in the towns of Berditchev, Zhitomir, Rovno and Zvihil were carried out by the military detachments which were under the leadership of Oskilko. When a delegation of the Jewish population of Rovno appeared before him, begging him to take measures toward stopping the pogroms, he received the delegation with open contempt.

By training a teacher, Oskilko was a leader of the Ukrainian Chauvinistic party, Samostniki. Originally a follower of Petlura, he later betrayed Petlura and in April 1920 attempted to arrest him, claiming that Petlura was too radical in his views.

When the Bolshevik army was victorious in the Ukraine, Oskilko rejoined Petlura and they both transferred their activities to Poland. During the last elections to the Polish Sejm, when a bloc of national minorities was formed, including Jews, Ukrainians, White Russians and others, Oskilko opposed this bloc and urged Ukrainian voters to support his list. He was unsuccessful in this, however. He then attempted to establish his own Ukrainian party, which proved to be without influence.

Following the assassination of Petlura by Sholom Schwartzbard, Oskilko, in his paper, “Volynskaya Zhizn” conducted anti-Semitic propaganda and threatened revenge on the Jewish population in the Ukraine. Representatives of the Jewish population in Rovno intervened with the Polish authorities to stop this agitation by Oskilko’s paper.

Oskilko was very unpopular in many circles of the Ukrainians. He was a bitter enemy of the policy of the Club of Ukrainian Deputies in the Polish Sejm and because of his extreme views had many personal enemies among the Ukrainians. The population of Grodek consists mainly of workers who were known to be Oskilko’s opponents.

Ninety-two of the ninety-five Jewish students, members of the graduating class at the University of Chicago, who received their degrees, won scholastic honors.

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