Kovno (May. 26)
The anti-Jewish excesses in Slobodka caused an uproar not only in Lithuania but throughout the entire Jewish world, the “Yiddished Stimme” here writes in an editorial on the trial of the Slobodka pogromists. Lithuania has not the reputation of a pogrom country, it proceeds. The Jews in Lithuania live in good relations with the Lithuanian population. Over a period of centuries, Lithuanians and Jews together bore the heavy yoke of a common fate, suffered persecution under absolutist regimes, fought shoulder to shoulder for liberty, for equal rights, for human conditions. In joy and suffering, during the elections to the Old Russian Duma, in the fighting for Lithuanian independence, at the tables of diplomats and in political salons, on the battlefield, and in the economic up building work of the country, everywhere and always, we Jews have worked, fought and built together with our Lithuanian fellow citizens.
The existence of good relations between Lithuanians and Jews has become sanctified by the tradition of centuries, the “Stimme” goes on. It is not only we Jews who have been proud of this inrooted mutual good relationship, but our fellow citizens, too, have been justly proud of this mutual, tolerant and trustful attitude between the two people. At every opportunity they have emphasised this fine and beneficial tradition.
It was for this reason that the sudden attack on Jews in Slobodka so overwhelmed the Jews both of Lithuania and of other countries. The enemies of Lithuania tried to make capital out of the events, endeavouring to exploit them in order to damage the prestige of our country. The phrase “Lithuanian pogromists” began to be used, and there was talk of pogroms becoming one of the methods of our Lithuanian system of Government. Fortunately, these charges proved to be unjustified. It is true that it has taken a long time to bring the guilty to trial, nearly three years, but Nemesis has at last overtaken the authors of those terrible nights of bloodshed. The hooligans who sought to besmirch the name of Lithuania with blood have been put into the dock and they will have to answer for their misdeeds.
They are not ordinary hooligans. They are not people of the underworld. Many of them held State positions. Several of them are former police officers. But that has not saved them from their punishment. The authorities are not shielding them.
They have long since been dismissed from their posts. In the administrative sense they have had their punishment long ago. People of their type could not continue to be entrusted with the maintenance of public security, of law and order, after they had carried out a murderous attack on citizens of Jewish nationality.
The sentencing of Petrulis proved the sceptics who thought Petrulis would be acquitted to be wrong. And the Slobodka trial, too, has proved them wrong.
But now, the Stimme” says, there is something still more important. It is not only those who actually attacked Jews who must be punished, not only the hooligans, but also those who stood behind them, who initiated the pogrom. The attack on the Jews of Slobodka was a punitive expedition to “teach a lesson to the Jewish Communists”. August 1st. was Communist Day, and “every Jew is a Communist”. The attack was carefully organised, systematically carried out, and what we want to know is who organised it. The hands have been got hold of, and have been punished. The next thing is to get hold of the head, of the brains. How could it possibly happen that Voldemaras, the Dictator, in whose hands lay the whole Government of Lithuania, and without whose consent not a finger could be lifted, should be unaware of what was going on, that even the day after the Slobodka bloodshed he should have been in a position to declare that he did not know anything of what had happened. This is something that must still be cleared up.