Arnold Margolin   The Jewish Chronicle   16-May-1919   Interview on Petliura
The pogroms have been perpetrated by the people of the Black Hundred and by provocateurs for the purpose of discrediting the Ukrainian government.

An Interview with
Dr. Arnold Margolin in 1919

The Jewish Chronicle

May 16, 1919

Dr. Arnold Margolin, Head of the Ukrainian Diplomatic Mission in London, Chairman of the "Jewish Territorial Society" in the Ukraine, was born in Kiev (in 1877), attended Kiev University, and established himself in Kiev as an attorney.  Since 1903 he had been noted as a counsel for the defense of the injured in pogrom excesses.  Besides, he participated as a counsel for the defense in many agrarian and political court trials.  For his revelations in the well-known Beilis case he was prosecuted by the Minister of Justice of that time, Shcheglovitov, with the result that the further practice of law was forbidden to him.  He has taken part in the Ukrainian Movement for many years, and has occupied himself with social problems in the Ukraine.  After the Revolution he was a member of the Central Committee of the Socialist-Federalist Party, and for a time he was Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs.  In the spring of 1919 he went to Paris as a member of the Ukrainian Peace Delegation.  Since January 1920 he has been the head of the Ukrainian Diplomatic Mission in London.

What is the attitude of the Jews toward the new Ukrainian State?

On the question of independence of the Ukraine the Jews were split into two camps.  On the one side there were the assimilated Jews who having been brought up in the All-Russian political spirit took a stand hostile to the new Ukrainian State.  On the other side there were the majority of the Jews the nationalists, Zionists and the Jewish Socialist Parties who declared their sympathy for Ukrainian endeavors.  The Jews who were themselves an oppressed nation welcomed with sympathy the national struggle of the Ukrainians.

The Jews were also split as to their attitude toward the socialist program of the new state.  The left wing of the Bund and Poalej-Zion went hand-in-hand with the left Ukrainian parties that were for the exclusion of the bourgeoisie from the government.  The majority of Jews were on the side of those Ukrainian parties that interceded for the West-European political system.  But in spite of these differences, almost all Jewish parties and organizations recognized the right of the Ukrainian nation to its independence.

What is the attitude of the Ukrainian government toward the Jews?

In the Ukraine which together with Galicia has a population of 40 millions there live 3 1/2 million (8%) Jews.  After the Revolution the ruling power in the Ukraine rested in a parliament in which all parties of the country, including Jewish, were represented.  That parliament ("Tsentralna Rada") granted the Jews more freedom and rights than they had anywhere in Europe at any time.  All national minorities, of course Jews too, were granted autonomy.  It must be stressed also that the Central Council (the Parliament) set up a Supreme Court to which those lawyers were appointed as judges, who had had courage to take a stand against the Russian government during the Beilis trial.

Here Margolin narrated the fate of the Ukraine after the overthrow of the Tsentralna Rada and during the rule of Hetman Skoropadksy, and then continued:

Hetman's rule lasted only eight months.  [After its overthrow] the Petlura Government renewed the autonomy of national minorities and again appointed Jewish ministers, viz. Mr. Goldelman and myself.  Jews belong also to the diplomatic missions which have been sent abroad by the Ukrainian government.  The noted Jewish historian, Dr. Wischintzer, one of the editors of the Jewish Encyclopedia, is the secretary of the Ukrainian legation in England.

How does this government's attitude agree with the fact of anti-Jewish pogroms?

There is a difference between pogroms which, unfortunately, have occurred now in the Ukraine, and pogroms in Russia during the tsarist regime.  While the tsarist government had itself instigated and organized pogroms, the Ukrainian government is in no way responsible for them.  In November 1918 I myself saw the proclamations of the government in the Ukrainian villages and cities which very vehemently condemned the pogroms and explained to the Ukrainian people that the Jews are Ukrainian fellow-citizens and brothers to whom full rights are due.  When, however, demoralization had set in the units of the Ukrainian army, its worst elements began to plunder.  Again the Ukrainian government rose vigorously against the pogroms, punishing with death the perpetrators of the pogroms and expressing its sorrow for the victims.  To my regret, I must state that the latest pogroms which, as far as I know, took place during the months of February and March were exceedingly serious.  They have been perpetrated by the people of the Black Hundred and by provocateurs for the purpose of discrediting the Ukrainian government.

These occurences made a shocking impression upon me, and at the end of March I tendered the government my resignation.  I recognized that fact that the government was blameless; I found it, however, hard to occupy an official post in a country in which my brothers were slaughtered.  My resignation was not accepted and the government requested me to continue in my official duties, at least abroad.  Now I am one of the four representatives of the Ukraine at the Peace Conference.  There is no anti-Semitic tendency in the Ukrainian government.

Margolin denies that Jews are playing an important role in the Bolshevist movement, as it is generally assumed.  To be sure, there are also Jews among the Bolshevists, but among Jews in general the Bolshevists constitute merely an insignificant minority.  The Jewish Zionist and other patriotic organizations received 70% of the votes at all elections.  There were no Jews at all among the Russian sailors who played such an important part in the Bolshevist revolution.

The fact that there are seemingly so many Jews among the Bolshevists, Margolin attributed to the circumstances that Jews distinguish themselves in all activity by their great energy, and hence the impression arises that there are many Jews in each political party.
The Jewish Chronicle, London, May 16, 1919, 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