October 11 in Russian history


The Kiev law-court begins a process against Menahem Mendel Beilis, a Ukrainian Jew, who was accused of a murder. In March 1911, a 13-year old Andrei Yushchinsky was murdered and his body was found in a cave. He died of bleeding after receiving 47 wounds. Doctor Kosorotov said that the character of the wounds indicates that their goal was to cause as much suffering as possible and that no more than one third of blood remained in the body, which proved that the murder was committed to collect blood.

The best detective of the Kiev police, Nikolay Krasovsky, began the investigation. Vice-director of the Department of the Ministry of Justice Lyadov and the prosecutor of the Kiev court Chaplinsky insisted that he should look for the signs of a ritual murder committed by Jews. Krasovsky rejected this version and was fired from the police. Soon, an anonymous letter was received by police which said: "The boy was killed by Jew Beilis. How long will we endure?" On June 25, Menahem Mendel Beilis, a superintendant at a brick factory, was arrested and accused of the murder. Minister of Justice Shcheglovitov ordered the investigators to find as many proofs of his guilt as possible. Two years Beilis had spent in jail. Fortunately, many inmates supported him. So, someone Paszkowski, a Pole sentenced to penal servitude, refused to witness against Beilis.

When the trial began, the jury included seven peasants, five bourgeois and two state officials. When the advocates saw the list of the jurors, they were sure they had already lost the process. The newspapers wrote: "The murderer of Yushchinsky, Mendel Beilis, is a typical criminal, with heavy jaw and low forehead. His typical Jewish head is covered with matte-black hair. His body is wide and strong... The old painters often drew similar murderers and conspirators. He often produces a handkerchief and pretends he is crying." (Zemshchina, October 1). Other newspapers argue: "Not condescending to the disproof of the accusations of Jews in ritual murders, we protest against this process, which is an insult to the whole Russian people." (Den', October 20).

The advocates defending Beilis included a member of the State Duma Maklakov, well-known lawyer Karabchevsky, Zarudny, Gruzenberg and others. Writer Vladimir Korolenko also participated in the process. Krasovsky and a journalist Brazul-Brashkovsky held an independent investigation and came to the conclusion that Beilis is not guilty. They provided the proofs during the trial. Altogether, more than 200 witnesses participated in the process. A Catholic priest Pranaitis was an "expert", he said that the god had punished the Jews with abscesses and cankers and that the Jews heal them with the blood of Christians. The absolute ignorance of Pranaitis was demonstrated by a Kievan rabbi Mazo. Famous surgeons Pavlov and Kadyan refuted the conclusions of the medical expertise by Kosorotov. Finally, the evidences collected by Krasovsky and Brazul-Brashkovsky convinced the jury that Beilis was not guilty and that Yushchisky was murdered by a group of criminals. Beilis wrote later in his book: "I could never imagine that Russian non-Jews, like Brashkovsky and Krasovsky, will put their social position to risk in the name of truth and justice. I and my family will never forget these magnificent people."

The nationalists, who expected Beilis to be found guilty, were preparing large scale pogroms in Kiev. Instead of this, thousands of people from all Russia came to Kiev to shake hand of Beilis and give him a small present. An Orthodox priest came to Beilis, fell to his knees and asked him to forgive Russia.

In December 1913, Beilis left Russia. First to Palestine, than to USA, where he died in 1934.

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