Defence and Prosecution Clash As Pogrom Evidence is Given
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Defence and Prosecution Clash As Pogrom Evidence is Given

Petlura Party Endeavors to Brand Schwartzbard as Communist Agent; Moscow Agent Provocateur Aids Ukrainians; Witnesses Compelled to Admit Perpetrators Were Not Punished; Jewish Colonization Work in Ukraine Brought Up in Court (Jewish Telegraphic Agency)

Not Sholom Schwartzbard, slayer of Semion Petlura, but Petlura and his government and some of the leading circles of the Ukrainian separatist movement, sat on the bench of the accused before the Court of Assizes on the third day of the trial which has attracted international attention. As the defense and prosecution entered the thick of the battle, as arguments were marshalled and evidence massed aiming either to whitewash the name of Petlura or to brand the horrible massacres of the defenceless Jewish population of the Ukraine, ghosts of the pogrom victims filled the court chamber, giving the proceedings a deeply tragic note. This invisible evidence recalled from history and preserved in the records of the hundreds of women, children and innocent men, constituted the iron bar against which the Petlura party attempted to storm by calling witnesses who had nothing to produce but a reiteration of the antiquated anti-Jewish insinuations.

The general impression, however, was that the court was not so much interested to know how Schwartzbard killed Petlura as whether or not Petlura was responsible for the anti-Jewish pogroms and whether or not those guilty of perpetrating these acts were punished by the Petlura government. The drama which occurred on May 25, 1925 in the Rue Racine, gave way before the drama of the Ukrainian Jewish relations between 1918 and 1920. The Ukrainian witnesses, instead of keeping to the point, indulged in long recitals of the history of the Ukrainian separatist movement, making it necessary for the presiding judge to interrupt their testimony and to remind them that they were called to testify in the trial of Sholom Schwartzbard.

Shapoval, former general in Petlura’s army, and Prokopovitch, premier of the Ukrainian government in 1920, though with reserve, demonstrated an anti-Jewish hostility. The French state attorney took a passive attitude, leaving to the Petlura civil party the initiative in developing the case. Generally a favorable attitude toward Schwartzbard was to be observed in the court room.

In the chamber where the witnesses were gathered before being called to the stand, heated discussions between Ukrainians and Jews continued during the day.

Schwartzbard, the central figure of the trial, appeared paler than on the previous day and maintained a calmness which enhanced his dignity. He made a particularly strong impression when, replying to the statement of the Petlura attorney, Caesar Campinchi, that he had shot Petlura seven years after the events, Schwartzbard declared: “France avenged Alsace Lorraine 44 years later.”

It is predicted here that the trial will last at least another two weeks as the list of witnesses is extremely long. M. Torres, in a conversation with press representatives, expressed his satisfaction with the course of the proceedings.


The trump card of the Petlura party was played when Campinchi presented a deposition by M. Dubkowski, a former Jewish Communist who is now on bad terms with the Moscow government. He was assistant commissar for Jewish affairs in Moscow under Diamantstein. In the Petlura party’s attempt to fasten on Schwartzbard the accusation that he was a Communist and acted on behalf of the Soviet Government in order to remove the possibility of Petlura’s return to the Ukraine, Dubkowski’s deposition was the opening gun.

In his testimony Dubkowski alleged that Schwartzbard was an anarchist and Communist and that he was a member of a secret committee formed by the Soviet government in Paris to kill Petlura. Dubkowski, who did not have the courage to appear in court but submitted his testimony in the form of a deposition, terms himself a Left S. R.

When this testimony was presented Schwartzbard was aroused, declaring, “This is the man Dubkowski whom I fed and clothed. He is a Judas. We Jews have Jesus and Judas!”

Torres declared that Dubkowski was proven by Burtzeff an agent provocateur who served in the secret police of the Czarist government.

The excitement in the courtroom reached its peak when the Petlura party introduced another deposition by the Ukrainian, Col. Bunakoff. In his statement he defended Petlura declaring that the Ukrainian soldiers fought against the Bolsheviks with “a divine fervor” and that it was impossible to keep them in check.

Torres declared that Bunakoff was one of those who were responsible for the anti-Jewish massacre in Proskurov. “Here are the names of the women and children who were massacred by Bunakoff’s ‘divine inspiration,’ which has prevented him from appearing in court. I leave it to the jury and to the judge to determine the value of this witness,” he exclaimed.

Campinchi attempted to defend the character of Bunakoff. He was joined by the prosecutor who asserted that during the Proskurov pogrom, Petlura was a member of the government without full power. Besides, there was a Minister of Jewish Affairs, a member of the government.

In a powerful address, Torres then declared that the pogroms in Proscurov and Felstein occurred in February when Petlura was already the chief of the army and a member of the directorate. “The Jewish communities appealed to the all-powerful Petlura to stop the massacres but no reply was given by him. As the chief of the army Petlura was responsible for his troops exactly as Hindenburg and Joffre were responsible for their armies. A. Revutzki, Minister of Jewish Affairs, had resigned from his post in February,” Torres stated.


The counsel for Schwartzbard then read the order of Semosenko dated February 17, in which the Jews were spoken of as “a despised nation, sowing unrest among the nations, which will be punished.”

To counteract the impression of this order, Campinchi read the text of orders alleged to have been issued by Petlura against the pogroms. Campinchi read an appeal issued by Pinchas Krasny, at that time Minister of Jewish Affairs in the Ukraine, urging the Jewish population to cooperate with the Ukrainian government. M. Torres retorted that Krasny was merely a tool in Petlura’s hands, while the other Jewish Ministers resigned because of the pogroms. (In a letter which Krasny, now living in Poland, addressed to the French state attorney, he declares that Petlura was responsible for the pogroms and demands of the French court justice against “the bloodiest criminal of suffering humanity.”)

M. Torres then presented the testimony of M. Przanowski, a Pole, who was the representative of the Danish Red Cross in the Ukraine at that time. Przanowski testified that he heard Semosenko report to Petlura that “his orders were fulfilled.

Tragic laughter resounded through the courtroom when Campinchi, interpreting the evidence of Shapoval, exclaimed that Petlura was a philo-Semite. Campinchi furiously shouted, “There is nothing to laugh about!” Shapoval, continuing his testimony asserted that Jewish leaders and especially Vladimir Tiomkin never accused Petlura for the pogroms. “Petlura’s regular army never massacred the Jews. The head of the Ukrainian army used to stop at the houses of rabbis, where Jewish delegations used to thank him.” The prosecution then interrupted the witness, asking him not to talk Ukrainian history but of Petlura’s responsibility. Shapoval then declared that Petlura was a soft-hearted person, a socialist, a friend of the Jews whom he appointed as officers, officials and ministers. He guaranteed equal rights to all nationalities. Schwartzbard, he asserted, was a typical Russianized Jew who does not understand a word of Ukrainian and is an enemy of the Ukraine.

Schwartzbard protested against this assertion, adding that the witness knew little of Silberfarb or Krasny, but knew only Dr. Arnold Margolin, who was Petlura’s ambassador in London.

The question of whether or not Schwartzbard had accomplices in the assassination occupied the attention of the court during the testimony of Shapoval. Shapoval alleged that a certain Volodin, an agent of the Moscow government, was a bosom friend of Schwartzbard and that he stood guard when Schwartzbard killed Petlura. Volodin, he stated, had come to him (Shapoval) glorifying Petlura as a socialist and trying to learn Petlura’s address. He surely knew of the planned assassination. In fact, on the morning of May 25, he came to Shapoval and told him that Petlura would be assassinated that day, Shapoval testified.


The court was thrown into an uproar when Torres produced a photograph certified to have been taken after Petlura’s assassination, showing Shapoval and Volodin in friendly embrace. The photograph had been taken after Shapoval had denounced Volodin to the French authorities as a Bolshevik and as a possible accomplice of Schwartzbard. M. Torres stated that Shapoval’s brother, who is the editor of the Ukrainian magazine, often published articles by Volodin. “It is a very moving picture,” Torres exclaimed. “You first accuse and denounce Volodin as a Moscow agent and then you are his closest friend.”

Campinchi and Shapoval endeavored to weaken the impression produced by Torres’ disclosure, offering the excuse that Shapoval was friendly with Volodin in order to watch him.

A very favorable impression was made by the testimony of Professor Langevein, French scientist, who declared that Schwartzbard belongs to an oppressed nation. Having been an eye witness of the pogroms, it is easily understood that Schwartzbard could kill Petlura, being possessed with the idea of enforcing justice. Campinchi asked the witness where he got his information, to which he replied: From the League of Human Rights.

“Are you aware that Petlura instructed Semosenko,” Campinchi asked. Torres ironically interjected. “You express Langevein to know Petlura’s verbal orders.” Campinchi then asked how a physicist could judge a psychological case and another question: Is it just to kill Petlura seven years after the pogroms?

Schwartzbard exclaimed in great excitedacted: “France waited 44 years to average Alsace and Lorraine. I waited eight years.” The audience was thrilled and apparently the jury was moved. Everybody repeated Schwartzbard’s words.

Pofessor Langevein, continuing his testimony, declared that when justice is organized violence is unpardonable, but where no justice exists, individual violence takes its place. “This is the case of Schwartzbard who waited rarely for eight years for justice.”

The question of Jewish colonization in the Ukraine sponsored by the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, came up at the trial during the testimony of Prokopovitch, prime minister of the Ukrainian government in ## and at present editor of the Ukrainian paper, “Trident.”

He started with a recited of the history of the Ukrainian movement and stated that Attaman ##, the leader put in power by the Germans arrested Petlura because he considered him undesirable from a German point of view. Petlura, he asserted, fought the pogroms.

When Torres insisted that Prokopovitch product facts proving his contention, or that be quote the measures taken by the Ukrainian government against the pogroms, Prokopovitch referred to the existing published material. Laughter broke out in the ##, when Torres declared: “When a prime minister cannot quote the actual measures their value is clear.”

Prokopovitch then stated that his paper, “##,” never published anti-Semitic articles whereupon M. Torres produced copies of the paper and read from ## violent anti-Jewish passages which were published shortly #### assassination. Campinchi ## that the passages are of its importance.

Mr. Torres then replied that the ## are ## tolerant ## people who entered ## with the Germans and are now in Paris ## themselves with anti-Semitic propagandia.

Campinchi than stared that the articles of the “Trident” were directed against the Jewish colonization work because it is provoking anti-Semitism among the peasants. Prokopovitch launched upon an attack upon the Jewish colonization, declaring that he will ever fight the colonization work in the Ukraine.

“The real purpose of the Jewish colonization is to establish a Jewish Republic in the Ukraine,” he declared. “The Jews represent only ten per cent of the population and they obtained the best soil at the time when the Ukrainians must emigrate to Siberia. The Jews in the Ukraine are doing what their ancestors did in Biotical times. They occupy the gardens which they have not planed and the houses which they have not built. We warn the Jews to abandon the idea of colonization if they want to remain in the Ukraine. Besides, ## and Margolin are also against the colonization. Are they therefore anti-Semites?”

Torres then asked the witness whether ## and Margolin are opponents of the colonization for the same reasons that he is. The witness ## cross-examination by Torres was compelled to admit that his government had not punished those guilty of the pogroms in Zionist and other Ukrainian cities.