Paris (Oct. 25)
Sliosberg and Tiomkin Concur on Petlura’s Guilt; Jewish Witnesses Confirm Facts of Massacres, Refrain from Accusing Ukrainian People; Sliosberg, Producing Burtzeff Letter, Explodes Charge that Schwartzbard was Moscow Agent. (Jewish Telegraphic Agency)
A marked contrast was evident in the courtroom at the beginning of the second week of the Schwartzbard trial when the defense witnesses were called.
The witnesses for the defense, mainly Ukrainian Jews who were in the country during the period of the pogroms, although expressing the opinion that Petlura was responsible for the anti-Jewish massacres and although unsparing in their description of the cruel atrocities committed against the defenceless Jewish population, carefully refrained from identifying the Ukrainian people with the pogroms. This attitude was the more accentuated in comparison with the testimony of the previous week when the witnesses for the Petlura party were on the stand. During their testimony the Petlura witnesses made many sharp anti-Semitic remarks, accusing the entire Jewish people and creating a dense anti-Semitic atmosphere in the courtroom.
The witnesses for the defense, depicting the tragedy of the helpless massacred Jewish population in the Ukrainian towns under the Petlura regime, reiterated the belief that Petlura was morally responsible for these atrocities.
The testimony of Miss Chayah Grinberg, a nurse in the Ukrainian Red Cross during the Proscurov pogrom, left a deep impression on the court. The listeners, through her convincing story were transported into the environment of a pogrom, town.
A marked impression was also left by the testimony of Heinrich Sliosberg, who declared his favorable attitude toward the Ukrainian people. The accusation that Schwartzbard acted as an agent of the Soviet government was shattered when Sliosberg produced a letter from Burtzeff.
Direct testimony concerning the pogrom period in the Ukraine was also presented by Vladimir Tiomkin, who described to the jury his personal recollection of an audience of Jewish leaders with Petlura. The lawyers in the Petlura civil party under the burden of this evidence assumed a milder attitude.
Heinrich Sliosberg, in his testimony, declared that up to March 1920 he had lived in Petrograd and as chairman of the Petrograd Jewish Kehillah, had occasion to hear much concerning the anti-Jewish pogroms in the Ukraine. When he left Russia he became acquainted with the material concerning the pogroms and heard much about them from eye witnesses. He cannot personally assert that Petlura was responsible for the pogroms, he declared. He knows, however, that Jewish public opinion in the Ukraine was firmly convinced that Petlura, as chairman of the Ukrainian directorate, did not take the necessary steps to protect the Jewish population against the pogroms and to punish the guilty ones.
The anti-Jewish pogroms in Russia during the period 1881 to 1905 were never as horrible as those which occurred under the regime of Petlura, who could have avoided them if he had used his power as chief of the army and the government. It seems, however, that he was unwilling, preferring to supply his army in this manner.
Petlura published orders against the pogroms at a time when it was his duty to act, the witness declared. “He was an energetic man, having risen to the presidency from a clerkship, but during the time of the pogroms he pretended to be weak. I am a friend of the Ukraine, but Jewry cannot forget the massacres,” Mr. Sliosberg declared.
Answering the interrogation of Cesare Campinchi, “What of Petlura’s responsibility?” Sliosberg declared that he considered Petlura morally and politically responsible but not legally. Campinchi agreed with the opinion expressed by the witness.
Henri Torres, Schwartzbard’s counsel, then directed the following question to the witness: “You are a conservative, is Schwartzbard a Bolshevik?”
“Alexander Shulgin swore that Schwartzbard acted for Moscow, I swear that he did not,” Sliosberg exclaimed raising his hand.
This scene made a tremendous impression upon those present in the courtroom.
Mr. Sliosberg then continued, declaring that he met Burtzeff, famous Russian discoverer of provacateur agents this week. “Burtzeff told me that Debkowski, whose deposition was read in court last week to the effect that Schwartzbard acted in behalf of the Soviet government, is an agent provocateur, Burtzeff told me that Schwartzbard had called on him (Burtzeff) when he was travelling in Russia and asked him for advice as to how to fight the disorganization of the Russian army in a desire to help the Allied armies. Burtzeff told me that Schwartzbard was a bitter enemy of the Bolsheviks. Burtzeff has written a letter on this subject.” Sliosberg handed the letter to the prosecuting attorney, thus exploding the contention that Schwartzbard acted in behalf of the Soviets. This testimony created a sensation in the court and called forth excitement among the civil party lawyers.
Wilms shouted; “Burtzeff’s letter is worth nothing, we have more important documents.”
Continuing his testimony, Sliosberg declared that the reason for Schwartzbard’s act was national. “The Ukrainians do not understand our indignation,” he added.
“The whole of Israel is mobilized,” Wilms interjected.
“Yes, it is mobilized in the synagogues to mourn the victims,” the witness replied.
During his testimony Mr. Sliosberg also touched on the opposition of the Ukrainian leaders to the Jewish colonization work in the Ukraine. “Not Ukrainian land, but the land of the former Jewish Baron Ginzburg was given to the settlers. What harm is there if thousands of ruined. Jewish families settled on the land?” he asked.
The next witness for the defense was Vladimir Tiomkin, one of the Ukrainian Jewish leaders. He testified that he had been a member of the All-Ukrainian Constituent Assembly, president of the Jewish National Secretariat in Kiev, city mayor of Yelisovetgrad and chairman of the local Kehillah board. He was born in the Ukraine, speaks Ukrainian and was a partisan of the Ukrainian national movement. He did not witness the slaying of Petlura by Schwartzbard but he was in the Ukraine during the pogrom period and knows of Petlura’s responsibility for them.
“I can state emphatically that the responsibility for the pogroms rests on the man whose name was Petlura. I am too old to have a desire to accuse anybody without reason and would certainly hesitate to throw suspicion without ground. The facts in the situation compel me to declare what I know to be true.
“In December 1918,” the witness related, he had welcomed as representative of the Jewish National Secretariat, the Ukrainian directorate upon its arrival in Kiev. Several days later alarming reports reached the Ukrainian capitol concerning the anti-Jewish pogroms. A delegation of Jewish leaders including the witness appeared before the Chairman of the Ukrainian directorate, Vinitchenko, begging him to take measures against the massacres.
Vinitchenko declared that he had received no information on the subject but that steps will be taken. On the following morning a report arrived concerning a pogrom in Chachmatch, organized by the Ukrainian Attaman Anghel. The witness and Dr. Schwartzman called again on Vinitchenko who told the delegation that he had already received a report and that he had ordered Anghel to be shot. The perpetrator is no doubt dead by now, the chairman told them. Later, the witness declared, they learned that Anghel was not shot, that he was not even arrested.
Several days later the anti-Jewish pogroms in Berditcheff took place, organized by the Attaman Polienko. The witness stated that he had submitted a memorandum to Vinitchenko demanding extraordinary measures to stop the pogrom.
“Vinitchenko replied to this memorandum stating that he cannot do much but he is doing what is possible. He advised us to speak to Konovaletz, commander of the army in the Kiev region. Konovaletz turned down the petition of the Jewish leaders, declaring that he can do nothing. The army is not well supplied and for this reason it has to take all it needs from the population, he said.
“When we pointed out that only the Jewish part of the population is being attacked, killed and robbed, no reply was made. It must be remembered that there were two parties in the Ukraine, the military and the civil. The civil party headed by Vinitchenko strove to combat the pogroms but had ##. The military which could have suppressed the pogrom did nothing. Pethira was at the head of the military.
“The Jewish community in the Ukraine was continued that Pethira here the responsibility. Everybody protested but the military authority paid no attention to our protests. No measures were taken to suppress the pogroms or ## the ##. The military prevented the investigation commission from scatting its works. The military even prohibited anything to be written about the pogroms. Later, when Pethira re## the harm caused to his position by the pogroms he started to take energetic measures against the pogroms, but it was too late. Even the better part of the Ukrainian population was continued that Pethira was responsible for the pogroms. Had he not wanted it there would have been no pogroms against the Jews in the Ukraine,” the witness declared.
The processing attorney interested that at the Zionist Congress in Basle, Mr. ## had said that the Denikin pogroms were more horrible.
Torres sarcastically replied that it seems the pr##ting attorney ## Schwartzbard for not having ## Denikin. “I would have declared him if he would have killed Denikin,” the defense counsel said.
Tiomkin they stated that Denikin was guil## of the pogroms too but Pethira’s responsibility was greater. Denikin was a prisoner of his army, while Pethira was the chief, he declared.