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Semion Petlura, Leader of Ukrainian Pogrom Bands, Killed in Paris

May 27, 1926
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Samuel Schwartzbard, who shot Petlura as an act of revenge for the pogroms perpetrated against the Jews in the Ukraine in 1919 under Petlura’s regime, during which tens of thousands of Jews were killed, declared today in prison that he does not repent his act.

Henri Torres has assumed the defense of Schwartzbard.

Petlura was born in 1879 in the Ukraine and played an important role in the Russian revolution. He was the head of the Cossack bands in the Ukraine, which attempted to drive out first the Germans and then the Bolsheviks. Following the fighting in 1918, he occupied Kiev, establishing for a brief period a provisional government, which, with the support of the Allies, waged a war for the independence of the country, Eventually, Petlura was driven out by the Bolsheviks and fled to Galicia and then to Poland When he was expelled from Poland he took refuge in Western Europe. Before he was expelled the Polish government maintained a great number of Petlura’s officers and soldiers, with the hope that they might be used in an offensive against the Bolsheviks in the Polish march on Kiev.

Petlura came of peasant stock. He strove to attain higher education and entered the Academy of Theology, became an opponent of the Czarist regime, and, together with other students, organized a group to propagate Ukrainian literature, In time he developed radical leanings and became a socialist.

It was estimated that at least 30,000 Jewish men, women and children were massacred in Ukrainian towns by Petlura’s forces.

“Eight hundred and nineteen pogroms took place in the Ukraine between October 1917 and the end of 1919, during which time 156,000 Jews were killed and wounded.” S. Y. Jacobi, organizer and commander of the Jewish Self Defense Corps. Evreiskaya Boevaya Drujiui, of the region of Odessa during 1917-1919, who is now in New York, declared in an interview with the representative of the “Jewish Daily Bulletin.”

“Nearly three quarters of those pogroms were perpetrated by Petlura’s bands, during the period between November 1918 and May 1919, when the government of the Hetman Skoropadsky, established by the German in the Ukraine, was changed to the government of Petlura, otherwise the government of the Directoria at the head of which he stood, and also when in the middle of 1919 the Petlura forces were defeated by the Bolsheviks.” Mr. Jacobi declared. “During the fighting between the two forces the majority of pogroms were organized mostly in the districts of Volin. Podol. Kiev and Poltava.

“When Petlura first entered Kiev in December 14. 1918, he behaved quite tolerantly toward the Jewish population, at least his laws and edicts were not directed against Jews. Later, however, he completely lost control over his bands and they were at liberty to do whatever they pleased. Petlura was directly responsible for at least one large pogrom, the pogrom at Proskurov, his headquarters being a few miles from the city when it took place. One thousand two hundred and sixty were killed in Proskurov: 700 widows and 3,600 orphans resulted from the massacre.

“Just as the majority of his officers were merely band leaders with no right to any special military rank, so Petlura himself was never a general. During the war he worked in the Ziemski Soyus, doing relief work, but he managed to organize around him the Ukrainian soldiers who left the front with riftes and ammunition, disorganized and demoralized. They joined him with the sole purpose of robbing and violating the peaceful population,” Mr. Jacobi stated.

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