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Acquittal of Sholom Schwartzbard is Condemnation of Pogroms

October 28, 1927
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Torres, in Powerful Plea, Appealed to Ideals of French Revolution; European Liberal Press Praises Verdict (Jewish Telegraphic Agency)

The voice of Western Europe, through the mouth of French justice, condemned the horrible anti-Jewish massacres in Eastern Europe and particularly in the Ukraine, when the twelve Frenchmen composing the jury in the Court of Assizes returned a verdict of not guilty for Sholom Schwartzbard, Russian Jewish watchmaker and citizen of France, who confessed before the world that he had slain Semion Petlura to avenge the victims of the massacres.

It took the twelve Frenchmen 32 minutes to decide from the mass of evidence on the most bloody period of Jewish history in modern times, concerning which volumes have been written, in the dispute as to whether or not the head of the Ukrainian separatist movement, Petlura was responsible for the massacres which were perpetrated by his lieutenants and which he could have prevented but did not.

The verdict of the French jury which declared solemnly that “before God and their conscience” they considered Schwartzbard not guilty, rested on their conviction with regard to Petlura’s guilt and was a thorough condemnation of the pogroms which had been ignored by the powers that were in the regions where they occurred and by world public opinion at the time of their occurrence. The jury ordered that Schwartzbard, in accordance with French custom, pay one franc damages to Madame Petlura.

The jury totally ignored the insinuations of the Petlura civil party lawyers that Schwartzbard acted not as an avenger of the pogrom victims but as an agent of the Communists. It also ignored the anti-Semitic innuendos drawn from the anti-Jewish libel literature by Attorney Wilm. An indication of the sympathetic attitude of the French authorities toward Schwartzbard was seen in the address of the prosecuting attorney. The prosecutor, though he at first demanded capital punishment for Petlura’s slayer, indicated at the conclusion of his address that if the jury finds extenuating circumstances, a certain term at hard labor or seclusion would be satisfactory to him.

The exclamations of “Vive la France,” “Vive la Republic” with which the crowds in and outside of the courtroom and on the streets of Paris greeted the verdict, resounded throughout Europe, finding an echo in the press of the various countries. Special editions were issued by the French newspapers announcing the result of the internationally famous trial. In the Jewish quarters of Paris rejoicing was manifest.

An attempt by some of the Ukrainians who were present in the courtroom to start riots was suppressed immediately by the police after a few fist-fights broke out among the spectators. Some of the Ukrainian and Jewish partisans were ejected from the courthouse by the gendarmes.

Henri Torres and Sholom Schwartzbard fell into an embrace when the ## was brought in. Many of the women in the audience cried with ## surrounding the weeping Mrs. Schwartzbard.

An indication of the probable outcome of the trial was seen when ## Raymond did not in his address ## himself with the views expressed by the Petlura party lawyers. In charging the jury, the prosecutor stated that both Petlura and Schwartzbard had led modest Pres. Schwartzbard who served in the French army and who distinction there should not have killed Petlura. The contention that be killed Petlura to avenge the pogroms is not trustworthy, besides no ## could prove Petlura’s guilt.

“You ## the wrong means to serve your brethren,” the prosecutor said, turning to Schwartzbard. “The man Schwartzbard does not deserve a monument but a crown of thorns in order to expiate his guilt. Schwartzbard, with his criminal past, cannot pose as the avenger of his nation.” The prosecutor reminded the jury that Schwartzbard was a naturalized forgiven and declared that “France has though foreign political murderers.”

Of the four and a half hours consumed by the attorneys in summing up the case. Henri Torres took less than one third. In an impassioned address which lasted ninety ## Torres impressed upon the jury that it was not Schwartzbard whose fate will be decided ## the anti-Jewish pogroms which are being judged before the court of French justice. He began his address at 4:00 P. M. with the judges and the juniors concentrating their attention on him. He declared that he assumed full responsibility for his decision not to call the remaining eighty-five witnesses including those eye witnesses of the Ukrainian pogroms who had come from the United States to ##. He took this decision because of his trust in the fair sense of justice of the French jury. He knew that French public ## always fought the anti-Jewish pogroms and he is certain that France cannot remain indifferent now.

“I am confident that the jury has but one question to decide: whether or not Schwartzbard is guilty. I am sure it will reply that he was not guilty. This does not mean the glorification of Sholom Schwartzbard. Schwartzbard’s fatherland is France, he shed his blood for her, but he did not forget the persecuted brethren of his race. Born in Baha, Schwartzbard remembers the persecutions.”

The counsel for the defense then drew a vivid picture of the anti-Jewish pogroms which impressed itself indelibly on the court, jury and audience. Even Cesare Campinchi, head of the Petlura party counsel, appeared paler.

“Schwartzbard was calmer in Paris where he tried to forget the pogroms, until he learned that Petlura had arrived here. His desire for revenge was reawakened. Witnesses have testified that the pogrom orphans who now live in Palestine tremble even today when Petlura’s name is mentioned Campinchi, who was born in Corsica, must know what revenge is. Schwartzbard acted independently. He had to accomplices.

“Twelve of Schwartzbard’s relative were killed in the pogroms. Petlura wanted to govern through the pogroms. The entire Ukrainian government was based on German aid. The pogroms were usually accompanied by cries of “Long Eire Petlura.”

“The public prosecutor demands severe punishment for Schwartzbard,” Torres exclaimed. “But Schwartzbard was punished enough. He was imprisoned for eighteen months and a doubt never entered his mind of the justice of the French people.

“The French Revelation first gave communication to the Jewish people. The Jews have always been grateful to France. Don’t darken that feeling. Not only the fate of Schwartzbard but the ## of France rests with you, gentlemen of the jury,” he declared.

Schwartzbard declared that privilege of addressing any last words to the jury, declaring that he has nothing more to say.

It was stated that the ## was reached by a note of mine to three.

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