Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Of Zalkind, Ogus and Wulfin

From the May. 11 JTA report out of Paris:

The Council for Jewish Minority Rights has published the following statement:

On April 15th. the trial took place at Vilna of three young Jews, Zalkind, Ogus and Wulfin. The first two were accused of having taken part during the anti-Jewish disturbances of 1931 in a clash between Jewish and Polish students in the course of which the student Stanislaw Waclawski was mortally wounded, and the third, Wulfin, was accused of having been one of a band of Jews who had attacked non-Jews in the street and thrown stones at the carriage in which the wounded Waclawski was being taken to hospital. It was said that Wulfin had struck Waclawski on the head with a stone and this had caused his death. Wulfin and Zalkind were arrested immediately after the disturbances on the charge of having killed Waclawski, and they were to have appeared before a court martial. The National Democratic press, which had incited the Polish students to these excesses, called for vengeance upon these two Jews for the murder of Waclawski, but owing to lack of evidence the case did not come before a court martial and the accused appeared before an ordinary court of law.

The case against Zalkind and Ogus was based mainly on the evidence of a certain Mdlle. Lepowska, who claimed to be a student at Vilna University, and gave a very circumstantial account of how she had seen Zalkind and Ogus throw stones at Waclawski. In cross-examination, however, she repeatedly contradicted herself, and it came out that she had never been a student at the University, so that the case collapsed and the prosecutor withdrew the charge.

The case against Wulfin was proceeded with. The evidence against him was no more definite than that against the other two. In this case, too, a woman, Mdlle. Oponowitch, claimed to have seen Wulfin throw the stone. She even claimed to have seen him fire a revolver, and together with other Jews strike passing Poles, and attack the carriage with other Jews strike passing Poles, and attack the carriage containing Waclawski. On this evidence Wulfin was sentenced to two years' imprisonment, even though there were extenuating circumstances taken into account, such as his being only 19 years of age and the fact that there was nothing against his character.

This sentence roused the Jewish population of Poland to indignation, particularly since Wulfin was sentenced to two years' imprisonment, while, of the non-Jewish prisoners, only one had been sentenced to as much as one year's imprisonment, although he had been arrested in the very act of beating Jews and had confessed that he had smashed windows in Jewish shops and attacked Jews.

It is clear, the memorandum says, that the intention of the court at Vilna was to show by its verdict that the Jews had been found the instigators of the disturbances and that but for the Jews the trouble would not have spread outside the University. The Court also appears to have been intent to utter a warning by its sentence to the Jewish youth that they must not, under penalty of heavy punishment, defend themselves against any aggression in the future. The evidence in favour of this view is strengthened by a reading of the statement of the grounds on which the court based its sentence.

Wulfin was not found guilty and sentenced for participation in the murder of Waclawski, as the National Democrats allege. He was sentenced for participating in attacks against Poles, attacks which it is alleged were started because Jews are filled with hatred of Poles and Poland. The Jews, driven by their hostility to the Polish people, who had always been very good to them, had attacked innocent Polish people in the streets, and thus besmirched the name of Vilna, the city in which the great friend of the Jews, Mickiewicz, had written his poems, and where no pogroms against Jews had ever occurred. The court seems to have forgotten the anti-Jewish pogroms that took place in Vilna on the day when the Polish troops entered the City in 1919, in which the Jewish writer, Weiter, was killed.

This is the first time that a Polish court of law has stated its grounds in such a fashion for a judgment against all Jews. The tribunal actually went back as far as the persecutions of the Middle Ages, the Inquisition, and the burning of Jews at the stake, to establish its case that Jews hate Christians.

It is easy to understand with what joy this statement handed down by the court, accusing Jews of enmity to all Christians, and particularly Poles, has been received in the National Democratic Press, and what wonderful material it provides for anti-Jewish propaganda in the future. The Jews feel outraged by the statement. The court at Vilna seems to have been guided by the desire to put the blame for what happened in Vilna on the Jews. Non-Jews arrested for participating in the excesses were ordered to pay small fines, or sent to prison for a few days, but where the Jews were concerned, the desire seems to have been to make it appear that they were in the wrong, that they were the aggressors, and thus to pacify the National Democrats who were calling for vengeance for Waclawski.

At Cracow there was another victim of the disturbances, who died of his wounds, a Jewish student in this case. But here no attempt was made to discover the guilty and the Polish students in Cracow who were arrested in the very act of beating Jews, were let off with small fines. Although it came out at the trial in Vilna, even in the evidence of the police, that special emissaries had come down from Warsaw who had organised the disturbances, the whole inquiry was directed towards the sole aim of fixing the blame on the Jews and making them appear the aggressors. Nothing was done, the memorandum concludes, to establish where the real responsibility for starting the excesses lay, which resulted in the death of Waclawski.

And two days earlier:

The Appeal Court in Vilna has upheld the sentence of one month's imprisonment passed by the lower court on the brothers Netesz, the brothers Belevitch, the brothers Kastorowitch, and Madame Tichon, all non-Jews, who were arrested for smashing windows in Jewish shops during the November disturbances in Vilna. The Public Prosecutor had appealed against the sen9 sentences on the ground that they were inadequate.

Semashko, a non-Jewish shoemaker who was sentenced by the lower court to one year's imprisonment (the case referred to in the memorandum of the Council for Jewish Minority Rights) for smashing windows in Jewish shops, also appeared before the appeal court, which decided to reduce his sentence to three months, and to defer its execution for three years.


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