The Ukraine and the Policy of Entente
Russian and Ukrainian pogroms compared
If the beginning of the demoralization of the Ukrainian army was at its tail, by Denikin's army the poison of demoralization came from the head.
from the book by Arnold Margolin
"The Ukraine and the policy of the Entente"
(Memorandum by a Jew and a citizen).
Publisher C. Efron. Berlin, 1921. Chapter XXIV. Pages 310-315.
Pogroms of the period of the Directorate, and of Denikin's Army. — Parallels. — Nations and Governments.
I have before me the report on pogroms, prepared by the Relief Committee for the Victims of Pogroms, at the Russian Red Cross in Kiev. It is stated in the report that there were no pogroms during the rule of the Central Council, or of Skoropadsky, or during the first two months of the Directorate's rule. Pogroms began after defeats that had been inflicted upon the troops of the Directorate by the Bolsheviks. The heavier the defeats and the farther Petlura's army was compelled to retreat, the more cruel was their vengeance upon the innocent Jewish population whom they identified with Communists. The slogan: "down with Jews and Communists," or "all Jews are Communists" were raised throughout the Ukraine and provoked pogroms everywhere.
This explanation of the origin of pogroms is quite identical with the statement made in Temnytsky's and Vasylko's telegram of August 1, 1919. In the course of centuries the entire population of Russia had been listening to accusations by the government of Jews being responsible for all the evils in the world. The ignorant masses believed even the legends about the ritual murder of Christian children by Jews, while even the "specialists" in this subject were declaring that Jews kill only boys. Karab-Tchevsky tells us in the first part of his memoirs ("What My Eyes Saw") that his mother had already in his childhood read to him the New Testament, and when it came to the torturing of Jesus Christ, his nurse or housemaid would exclaim: "the hideous Jews, they surely killed Christ by torture!" (p. 23).
The pogroms of the years 1880 in Kishinev and Homel, came as the result of false rumors and of promises of exemption from punishment for plundering during three days. This time, however, the participation of Jews in the Bolshevist movement was no more a rumor, but a fact which it was very easy to exaggerate. On the other side, the impunity for plundering lasted this time not only three days, but indefinitely on account of the absence of any authority that could stop the plundering. For, what authority could exist during the panic of retreat before Trotsky's army? ... Under such conditions a favorable atmosphere was created for the rapacious instincts of the demoralized segments of the army, as well as for the development of the ideological barbarity of Semesenko and for the provocateurs from the Russian Black-Hundred camp, who were pogrommongers by conviction and wished at the same time to discredit the Ukrainian movement by branding it as being guilty of pogroms.
All this, of course, is not justification, but only one of many explanations of the origin of pogroms during the period of the Directorate.
Quite a different picture is displayed by the comparison of this period of pogroms with the pogroms by Denikin's army. Here is no question of retreat and of chaos that is connected with retreat. On the contrary, the more successful the advance, the more organized and stronger is the propaganda from above and the more according to plan the pogroms are developed. If the beginning of the demoralization of the Ukrainian army was at its tail, by Denikin's army the poison of demoralization came from the head. As we have seen already, the Denikin officers openly declared that they were fighting not against the Bolsheviks, but against the Jews.
To be sure, there were also in Denikin's army many persons of a purely rapacious type. But the most horrible thing was the deeply rooted anti-Semitism of the chiefs that surrounded Denikin, and their sadistic hate of Jews. I, personally, am not inclined to assume that Denikin himself wanted pogroms. Even to Denikin, in spite of his anti-Semitism, it was impossible not to see the fatal results of pogroms for his army. But he, too, was powerless on the question of pogroms, nor had he any inclination to come forward in defense of the Jews.
The second characteristic feature which distinguishes the very course of the pogroms in one area from the other consists in the fact that in Petlura's army, we surely find cases when some individual persons or groups succeeded in preventing or stopping pogroms. Two such cases are cited by Temkin in his report, the other two cases are given in the report of the Relief Committee for the Victims of Pogroms. Red Army soldiers arranged an anti-Jewish pogrom in the city of Korosten in March 13, 1919. When the soldiers of Petlura's army which was at that time advancing, reached the city, they stopped the pogroms. In Bila Tserkva the Ukrainian army — having expelled in August the Denikin troops of Gen. Shkuro and then the Red troops, who one after another plundered and massacred the population — behaved in full dignity until in turn they were substituted by Zeleny's bands that immediately arranged a pogrom. Later the unfortunate town was attacked by Sokolov's bands, after which the Ukrainian troops again succeeded in restoring order for a short time.
Lubny escaped a pogrom thanks to the fact that a hundred men were found in the Ukrainian ranks, who with their arms stood in the way of the pogrommakers. Fourteen of the defenders fell in the fight but the town was saved. While reading the story about Lubny in this part of the report, I recalled the year 1905 when a City Committee of Defense was organized in Lubny, which also saved the city from a pogrom.
Such facts were unknown in Denikin's army. Here the "guilty" of such patronage and defense of Jews were punished with dismissal from their posts.
The third feature, a very disadvantageous one for Denikin's army and government, appears as a result of the comparison of the declarations by the Ukrainian government on the Jewish question, of laws concerning personal-national autonomy and Jewish Communities on the one hand, — with the clauses restricting the number of Jews in educational institutions as well as in civil and military services in Denikin's empire — on the other hand. Here, on the part of the Ukrainian government, an effort to draw on representatives of Jews in all levels of government posts, and over there — in Denikin's camp — removal of Jewish officers from the army, and of Jewish officials from district and city offices. And this — in spite of the fact that so many Jews joined voluntarily at the very beginning Koltchak's and Denikin's armies. And how many Jews having been brought up with a Russian culture died for Russia that had been always a stepmother to them? On the other hand, how small a group of us, Jews, joined the Ukrainian movement at the beginning of the second revolution! Of course, there was nothing strange in it. Wilson's points had been declared but recently, and the realization of the right of self-determination by the Ukrainian people wa such a new and fresh event that not only the average Jewish citizen, but also the intellectuals, with few exceptions, did not digest or understand all that had happened. But the fact remains, Jews were represented by a very considerable number in the ranks both of the Bolsheviks and, at the beginning, of Denikin's army. The Ukrainian movement was joined only by a few Jews.
The representatives of Russian and Jewish capital and heavy industry were marching hand-in-hand with the Volunteer Armies of Denikin, Yudenitch, and Koltchak. And even after all those pogroms committed by Denikin's army, the Jewish capitalists and industrialists followed the call of his successor Wrangel, and joined him
Finally, one more feature out of many others that distinguish the Ukrainian Movement from that of Denikin: An anti-Jewish pogrom was openly carried on in Kiev in the presence of Denikin's generals, Drahomirov and Bredov. Never did happen anything like that, wherever the Directorate set up headquarters, neither in Kiev, nor in Vynnytsia, nor in Kamanets-Pololsk. The Kiev population knows from bitter experience the difference between those two regimes.
Nevertheless, in spite of all these quite essential differences, here abroad the pogroms of the followers of Petlura are much more known than those perpetrated by Denikin's army, although the latter numerically and qualitatively surpassed considerably the former. This is to be explained not only by the propaganda of the Russian groups which have old connections and larger means in Europe and America, but also by the incontestable fact that the first series of pogroms attracted the greatest attention and brought forth the strongest expression of dissatisfaction on the part of the public.
(In F. Pigido (ed.), Material Concerning Ukrainian-Jewish Relations during the Years of the Revolution (1917-1921): Collection of Documents and Testimonies by Prominent Jewish Political Workers, The Ukrainian Information Bureau, Munich, 1956, pp. 48-51)