Pogrom in Litin - May 1919

LITIN (Government of Podolia)

I. From Report of Authorized Investigator V. A. Guminer, June 24, 1919

I have returned from Litin, wher I learned the situation of the devasted city. Litin is a small cantonal capital, thirty versts from the station of Vinnitza, with which it is connected by a paved highway. Out of a population of 12,000 the Jews comprise 4,000, the Ukrainians 5,000, the Great Russians 2,000, and the rest (Poles and others) 1,000. Relations between the Jewish and non-Jewish inhabitants were excellent.

The pogrom was wholly unexpected to the Jews of Litin. There were cases, as everywhere, but not general appeals (to pogroms), and no signs that the Jewish population was threatened by any serious danger. On the night before May 14 a band under the leadership of Shelpel burst into the city. The band was a small one, of 25 to 50 men. The local garrison resisted, but a certain section of it ws treacherous. Towards morning the Jewish pogrom began. Local inhabitants and also peasants from the surrounding villages joined the band. Vodka was gotten from somewhere or orther, and drunkenness, looting, and merders began. In all a hundred people were killed.

The pogrom was terminated only by the entrance of the detachment of the Vinnitza Extraordinary Committee, which fired on the villages with artillery, but soon departed. The rebels again entered Litin, but there ws no more looting. One Jew was killed; he happened to appear in the streets as the rebels were entering the town. After this the rebels attacked Vinnitza unsuccessfully; and Litin was cleared of rebels by the International Regiment and the cursants (Soviet military cadets).

After the deprture of the latter a detachment of Soviet forces entered the town and put a complete end to the looting of the Jewish population. The latter ws terrorized after the experiences of the pogrom. Now it is comparatively peaceful there. The commandant was removed, but fled, and is now being sought.

Litin now looks like a dead city. The stores are all closed. Economic life is completely at a standstill. The peasants have stopped bringing food into the city. Thus it si hard to get bread or anything to eat even for money. In the last few days some improvement is noticeable. A few food products ar appearing. But the peasants demand not money, but produce (salt, manufactured articles, etc.).

On the advice of local people in public life, I applied to a well-known woman, a Mrs. Merezel (a Christian). She empasized tht there was a special need for food products and for clothing, especially linen. When I found what the situation was and realized that the children were especially in want, I decided in the first days to open a food depot for a hundred children, in the style of a kindergarten.

II. Testimony of G. Zeidis, Gymnasium Student, Aged 18, Taken Down by S. Y, Maizlish, July 29, 1919

Some circles of the Jewish population of Litin took an active part in the communist movement. There were many Jews in responsible positions under the Soviet. In the region of Litin were operating the bands of Shepek, saranchi, and Karpach, who came out against the Soviet regime and spread anti-semitic watcwords, like “Kill the Jews, save Ukraine,” etc.

The first pogrom was perpetrated May 14. Looting was epidemic; there were 120 killed, about 20 wounded, about 10 women violated. After this repeated attacks of the bands occurred, almost every week. On July 18 the workers of Yastrev’s shoe factory from Vinnitza came to the village of Voniaga (three versts from Litin) for grain and provisions. The peasants of the village offered reistance, drove them out, and burst into Litin and killed seven Jews.

Heifetz, E. J. U. D. (1921). The slaughter of the Jews in the Ukraine in 1919. New York, NY, Thomas Seltzer.
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