Dramatic news of the murder of Dr. Chaim Arlosoroff, far-reaching in its political and emotional significance to Jews of all national, first reached the world through the channels of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency on June 17, 1933.
The thirty-five-year-old labor leader, head of the political department and member of the Palestine Executive of the Jewish Agency for Palestine, had been shot and fatally wounded by two unknown assailants shortly before midnight on the preceding night, as he was walking with his twenty-eight-year-old wife, Sima, near the Moslem cemetery in Tel Aviv.
The Arlosoroffs had just returned from Europe and were staying at the Kaetedan, a Tel-Aviv pension, employes of which later figured in testimony at the trial.
BORN IN UKRAINE
Victim Chaim Arlosoroff (he subsequently dropped his first name) was born in Romny, in the Ukraine, in 1899. He lived in Germany from 1905 until 1924. He was educated in German schools, received the degree of doctor of philosophy from the University of Berlin and served in the German army during the World War.
He first attained world prominence in 1923, when he took the floor in the thirteenth Zionist Congress to criticize the Zionist financial and economic policies and to propose a comprehensive plan for financing the reconstruction of Palestine by means of an international loan.
Suddenly he became an intimate friend and trusted adviser of Dr. Chaim Weizmann and was generally considered heir-apparent to the beloved leader as head of the World Zionist Organization.
In 1918 he became active in the German Poale Hazair and led the German delegation to the world conference of that organization in Prague the following year. In 1920 he was a member of the world executive of the Poale Hazair and was placed in charge of its Berlin bureau. That same year he was elected to membership on the actions committee of the World Zionist Organization and six years later he visited the United States with the Weizamann delegation.
MOVES TO PALESTINE
A new epoch in Dr. Arlosoroff’s life began in 1924, when he took up permanent residence in Palestine. By this time the twenty-five-year-old doctor of philosophy had attained eminence in the world of Zionism and was making strong bids for recognition as an international leader of Zionist Jewry.
A member of the national council of the Vaad Leumi (Jewish National Council) at the time of his death, he had been one of the three representatives of that organization to the mandates commission of the League of Nations in 1928, when he had presented the views of the Palestine Yishub.
Shortly befor Murder brought an untimely end to his career he had been in Berlin, studying the Jewish question in Germany. Almost simultaneous with the news of his assassination came the announcement of a plan he had formulated in which he had suggested a “bargain” between Jews and the Reich, under which migration of German Jews to Palestine and the influx of German-Jewish capital into the Holy Land might be made easier.
He had just returned to Palestine, where he was awaiting reaction to this proposed program, when his mysterious slaying occurred, on June 16.
APPROACHED BY STRANGERS
Police found little to work with in their first reconstruction of the crime. While they were walking near the Moslem cemetery in Tel Aviv, Mrs. Arlosoroff explained, they were approached by two strangers, who addressed Dr. Arlosoroff in Hebrew, asking him the time. He replied that it was about eleven o’clock, whereupon two shots were fired from a revolver and the young Zionist fell, ,mortally wounded. Taken to the Hadassah Hospital, he died while surgeons were preparing to operate.
Then began a long and harrowing series of investigations, preliminary hearings and trials, which brought to the surface an amazing undercurrent of political intrigue, inter-factional strife and personal ill feeling.
A chronological digest of the history of the main points of the case, as they have been detailed from time to time during the past year in the Jewish Daily Bulletin, follows:
1933-June 16: Dr. Chaim Arlosoroff is murdered by two unknown assailants while walking with his wife late at night near the Moslem cemetery in Tel Aviv.
June 17: Police show Mrs. Sima Arlosoroff, the widow, ten photographs. She points to the picture of Abraham Stavsky, Polish Revisionist, a resembling the taller of the men who she says took part in her husband’s assassination.
July 23: Palestine police, in a series of extensive raids, arrest fourteen members of the Revisionist Party (extreme right-wing Zionists), charging them with seditious offenses against the Palestine government.
July 25: Twelve of the prisoners are remanded for examination, two of them charged with illegal possession of firearms.
July 29: Mrs. Arlosoroff, viewing a police line-up of the Revisionist prisoners, tells police she recognizes Zvi Rosenblatt as the second accomplice in her husband’s killing.
August 3: Public Prosecutor Shirted of Jaffa causes a sensation when he announces he is charging Stavsky, Rosenblatt, Yehuda Minz and other as yet unnamed with the slaying of Dr. Arlosoroff.
August 8: Aba Achimeier, extremist Revisionist, is questioned at length by Tel Aviv police.
August 9: Mrs. Arlosoroff, testifying at a magistrate’s hearing reaffirms her identification of Stavsky and Rosenblatt as the two men who accosted her husband on the night of his murder. She says she believes she saw Minz, nineteen-year-old B’rith Trumpeldorite (Revisionist youth group member), running from town when she was hurrying to her pension after the shooting to summon assistance.
August 22: Fourteen Revisionists accused of sedition are examined in Jaffa British magistrate’s court. Thirteen are freed on bail. The fourteenth, Aba Achimeir, is held without bail, charged with complicity in the Arlosoroff murder.
August 24: Prosecutor Shirted decides to withdraw charges against young Minz.
October 10: A Caucasian hotel keeper swears in court that he saw Stavsky and Achimeier talking together in a Tel Aviv hotel room on the night of the murder. This contradicts Stavsky’s alibi that he was in Jerusalem at the time.
November 8: Magistrate’s investigation clears Achimeier of murder conspiracy charges.
STAVSKY ALIBI SUPPORTED
November 22: Two children support Stavsky’s Jerusalem alibi, stating they saw him in a Jerusalem restaurant on the night of June 16.
November 23: Horace Samuel, noted London barrister, takes up the defense cudgels in the case.
1934-January 8: Shirted accuses the defense of attempting to make out a case that Mrs. Sima Arlosoroff shot her husband. Samuel denies the charge.
January 9: Defense tries to show Mrs. Arlosoroff told police, immediately after the murder, that one of her husband’s slayers was an Arab.
January 26: Samuel causes uproar in court by declaring the Jerusalem public prosecutor told him that two Arabs had been arrested in connection with the murder, and that one of the two-Abdul Majid Alhendi-had twice confessed in writing that he was one of the killers.
January 28: Abdul Majid will be called as a witness for the prosecution. Inspector Harry P. Rice asserts he is convinced the Arab’s “confession” was trumped up since in his opinion it was full of contradictions and the youth has since recanted.
February 2: Abdul Mejid appears on the stand and Samuel is unable to snake him in his recantation.
ARAB BRIBED, HE SAYS
February 7: Abdul Mejid testifies Stavsky offered him a bribe to confess to Arlosoroff’s murder. Rosenblatt joined in the offer, he says promising him 1,000 pounds if he would admit the slaying.
February 19: A fellow convict of Abdul Mejid testified that while he was occupying a cell in company with the “confessor,” Stavsky on nine occasions spoke through a cell window to Abdul to offer him a bribe to confess.
March 5: Stavsky denies bribe attempt charges.
March 7: The long drawn-out magistrate’s court hearing ends. Magistrate Ralph B. Bodilly commits Stavsky, Rosenblatt and Achimeier for trial in the criminal assizes court on charges of premeditated murder.
TRIAL IS TRANSFERRED
April 19: High court decides to transfer the trial from Jaffa to Jerusalem.
April 23: The trial opens in Jerusalem. Public interest at a high pitch.
April 24: Samuel loses court battle to bar from the record the testimony given to Shitreet by two of the three defendants immediately after their arrests.
April 25: Mrs. Arlosoroff takes the stand against the three Revisionists. She repeats her charges that Rosenblatt shot her husband while Stavsky flashed a light into his face.
April 26: Mrs. Arolosoff concludes her testimony by denying she shouted “Arabs shot him!” immediately after her husband was assassinated. She insists she screamed, “Jews shot him!” Crowd of Revisionist sympathizers, standing outside, boo her as she leaves the court room.
SAMUEL LOSES PLAN
May 2: Defense disputes police evidence, attempting to show that plaster casts of tracks of the alleged murderers did not fit the footprints of the accused trio. Policemen testify Stavsky engraved two stones with death threats against Arlosoroff.
May 3: Samuel loses plea to bar testimony of all witnesses who identified the defendants.
May 4: Police Inspector Jehudah Tenenbau tells the court Mrs. Arlosoroff, the first time she was confronted with Rosenblatt, shouted, “This man killed my husband!” and urged the Revisionist to confess.
May 8: Police stool pigeon claims Rosenblatt admitted to him that he held the revolver which killed Arlosoroff.
CHARGES ARAB WAS KILLER
May 9: After Abdul Mejid repeats bribery charges on the stand against Stavsky and Rosenblatt, Samuel declares he is prepared to prove the Arab ex-convict and a companion, Issa Darwish, Killed Arlosoroff.
May 14: Inspector Rice bolsters the prosecution’s case by explaining the circumstances under which Dr. Arlosoroff’s widow identified the three suspects.
May 15: Rice declares all evidence controverts defense charges that Abdul Mejid and Issa Darwish were in any way implicated in the murder.
May 17: Aba Achimeier is freed on motion of Samuel, but a similar motion as to Stavsky and Rosenblatt is denied.
May 18: Achimeier is rearrested as a leader of Brith Habiryonim, alleged terrorist organization.
May 19: Achimeier goes on a hunger strike.
May 20: Police say Achimeier is taking food, despite reports to the contrary.
May 22: Samuel, in a long speech, repeats his charges that Arabs killed Arlosoroff and says he will prove Stavsky and Rosenblatt innocent.
May 23: Defense places seven witnesses on the stand, all of whom verify Stavsky’s alibi that he was in Jerusalem on the night of the murder.
May 24: Achimeier, summoned as a witness, refers to Mrs. Arlosoroff as “the greatest woman liar.”
May 25: Numerous witnesses testify Rosenblatt spoke at a Kfar Saba meeting on the night Arlosoroff was slain.
May 29: Engineer Andrel Gut testifies he spoke to Mrs. Arlosoroff immediately after the murder and she told him she was certain one of the two men who shot her husband was an Arab while the other was a Jew.
June 1: Presiding Judge Corris rebukes Samuel, taxing him with hinting that the Histadruth, Palestine Labor Federation, has been trying to make political capital of the murder.
June 5: The final defense witness is called.
June 6: Samuel makes stirring summing-up speech, insisting the murder was non-political and demanding exoneration for Stavsky and Rosenblatt.
June 8: The verdict of four judges: Abraham Stavsky is guilty of Dr. Arolosoroff’s murder. Zvi Rosenblatt is freed of murder charges.
The Archive of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency includes articles published from 1923 to 2008. Archive stories reflect the journalistic standards and practices of the time they were published.