Petliura a great
man in life
and a tragically distorted figure
On a spring day in Paris, eighty years ago May 25, three shots rang out
to end Symon Petlyura's illustruous life. The assasin, Shlomo
Schwartzbart -- purportedly a young Jew originally from Ukraine --
surrendered immediately to the French Police, and thus began a saga of
besmirching Petlyura's name, leaving a mark of infamy on him to this
day. The resource-limited defense of Petlyura's reputation, mounted by
Ukrainian emigre community, was impotent in overcoming the myth
nanufactured and fanned by Moscow of Petlyura as a promoter of pogroms.
The Moscow line was that this behavior took place during Petlyura's
service in the fledgling Ukraine Government -- born in the wake of
Imperial Russia becoming inflamed by the October 1917 Revolution -- as
its General Ataman. The widely reported trial of Petlyura's assasin
ended with the Paris jury finding him innocent. The verdict was
anxiously picked up by the world press spreading the news of Petlyura's
alleged complicity in the pogroms.
The uphill battle to vindicate
Petlyura's reputation remans a to do matter. Now that Ukraine is truly
free -- no effort should be spared in rectifying the injustice.
Historical archives are sparse on the pertinent material -- those
documents that survived the stormy 1917 - 1921 years of strife for the
independence were either wantonly destroyed by the obliging Radyanska
Ukrayina authorities to please Moscow Poltburo, or remain under the
lock and key in some yet to be uncovered archives. Partial progress in
this area has beem achieved by locating a document conveying an appeal
by General Ataman Petlyurato the military, as well as to the civilian
populace, to quell all signs of intolerance toward the Jewish
population. Apart from that, testimonials by noted Jewish personages
are on hand -- proclaiming Petlyura's philosophical-political makeup to
have been predisposed to collaboration rather than confrontation in
dealing with other nationalities or religious adherents, like Jews.