'Severe blow to the memory of the sacred martyrs'

Monument in memory of Symon Petliura erected in Vinnitsa, Ukraine, not far from local synagogue.

Mordechai Sones,

צילום: אייסטוק

Rage in the Jewish community in Vinnytsia, Ukraine, after a statue memorializing Symon Petliura was placed not far from the local synagogue.

Symon Petliura was a Ukrainian statesman and the last president of the People's Republic of Ukraine. Among the Jews, Petliura is remembered as the person whose soldiers carried out pogroms in which tens of thousands of Jews were murdered, and during the Holocaust many Ukrainians atrocities were committed in his name, among them a pogrom that took place in Lvov and was dubbed "Petliura's Days."

The rabbi of Vinnitsa, Rabbi Shaul Horowitz, said in response that "this is an unacceptable act and a severe blow to the memory of the sacred martyrs. I regret that the authorities did not take into consideration the feelings of the Jews of the city."

Petliura fought against both the Red Army and the White Army, both of which tried to conquer Ukraine. His army was defeated by the Red Army, and he disassociated himself from the Jews of the country. During a six weeks period there were close to sixty pogroms, in which tens of thousands of Jews were murdered, led by Petliura, who encouraged the slaughter.

In one of the pogroms in Pruszkow (Khmelnytsky), at least 1,200 Jews were murdered and brought to a mass grave. Those who escaped were shot dead, while those who remained in their homes were murdered with blunt weapons to save ammunition.