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.

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