FRANCE: Petlura Trial

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"Prove it! Prove it, then!" flung back the defiant Schwartzbard, dropping limp, into his seat.

A squat Slav, called by the prosecution, who described himself as an "historian, a man of letters and at present an assistant to a stone- mason," gave evidence in Petlura's philo-Semiticism, denying with a grief-contorted face that the "General" had ever killed Jews or caused them to be massacred.

"Yes! Yes! He massacred them!" shouted Schwartzbard, unnerved.

The most notable witness called, however, was Mile. Haia Greenberg, 29, a curly bobbed-haired nurse. In a soft, low voice, she told of the carnage and rapine ordered by Simon Petlura and of the blood-bathed home of her grandparents. Murmured she:

"I shall never forget the reddened snowsleds, filled with the hacked bodies, going to the cemetery to desposit their sad burden, in a common pit. They brought the wounded to the hospital— armless and legless men, mutilated babies and young women whose screams became faint as their wounds overcame them."

Then breaking down and sobbing convulsively she screamed: "Oh, no, no! I cannot go on! They are before my eyes!"

"Petlura was responsible. Even Ukrainian officers said so. His soldiers killed our people, shouting his name. One regiment had a band and it played while knives fell on the heads of innocent babies. Petlura could have stopped it, but he wouldn't listen to our pleas."

Verdict. Amid tense excitement, after an absence of 35 minutes, the jury returned a verdict for the young, pale faced Jew's acquittal. Frenzied cheering greeted the decision. M. Schwartzbard, calm, kissed his lawyer, Maitre Henri Torres. "Vive la France!" shouted somebody. "Vive la France!" echoed some 500 voices.

In addition to setting M. Schwartzbard free, the verdict ordered the Petlura family, represented by Maitre Caesare Campinchi, to pay the costs of the trial, but awarded damages of one franc each to Mme. Petlura, widow of the slain "General," and to M. Petlura, his brother.

The outcome of the trial, which gripped all Europe, was regarded by the Jews as establishing proof of the horrors perpetrated against their co-religionists in the Ukraine under the dictatorship of Simon Petlura; radical opinion rejoiced, but the conservatives saw justice flouted and the decorum of the French courts immeasurably impaired.

Schwartzbard, free, went into hiding, fearing assassination at the hands of anti-Semites.

*It is customary in French courts to employ the title "maitre," a term of respect.

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