‘Allied Atrocities in Ukraine’ by Christian Rakovsky, Chairman of the Ukrainian Soviet Government from Soviet Russia (New York). Vol. 1 No. 8. July 26, 1919.

Retreating before the Red Army, the Whites burn bread, 1919.
‘Allied Atrocities in Ukraine’ by Christian Rakovsky, Chairman of the Ukrainian Soviet Government from Soviet Russia (New York). Vol. 1 No. 8. July 26, 1919.

I. Ukrainian Socialist Soviet Government calls the attention of the French Government and the Peace Conference in Paris to the atrocities committed by French and Greek soldiers in Southern Russia on their retreat from Kherson.

For the investigation of these atrocities the Ukrainian Government appointed a special committee which included, besides the representatives of Soviet Authority, one from the former Procurature and one from the former city council. The results of this investigation have fully proved the former data about brutalities committed upon the inhabitants by Greek soldiers under the French Command during the whole time of their presence in the Southern Ukraine.

Bodies of Red prisoners in Bakhmut poisoned by Denikin’s troops, 1919.

On the second of March, three Greek soldiers have taken from the Monastyr Borough of the City of Kherson the following persons: Joseph Chu, 60 years of age; Dimitry Ostapenko, 60 years of age; Ivan Privoda, 75 years of age. Also Grygory Tkachot, of 50, and Kuzma Keleso, of 35. These persons were accused of Bolshevism and on the following day they were shot by Greek soldiers. The witnesses prove that they were innocent.

Mass executions and atrocities were committed, before the retreat from Kherson, by Greek and French soldiers. The inhabitants living on Mikhailov and neighboring streets in the vicinity of the harbor, were taken regardless of sex, age or social standing, to a wooden storage house in the harbor. Their homes were ransacked by Greek patrols and on their offering the slightest resistance and protests they were beaten by Greek soldiers with rifle-butts and revolvers.

French General Berthelot, left, handing Odessa to General Anselme, center, accompanied by his son in March, 1919.

In the wooden storage house were collected about 1,000 inhabitants. During the night they were guarded on the inside and outside by Greek soldiers. By 6 o’clock in the evening on the 10th of March, the Greek patrol left the inside of the storage house. Shortly afterwards the storage house was shelled from the nearby French torpedo boat, two of the shells hitting the storage house. The wooden structure began to burn and some of those that were inside perished in the flames while some succeeded in escaping through the collapsed walls.

Up to the present time there were identified 95 corpses of citizens that perished in the horrible fire ordered by the French Command in Kherson.

The barbaric methods used by the Greek soldiers can be proved by witnesses. Tzezar Jaton, an old man, shows that he, together with others, was taken by Greek soldiers, who dealt with him in an extremely brutal manner and beat him up. Jaton, by his social standing belongs to the bourgeoisie, and in order to avoid being beaten by Greek soldiers, referred to his acquaintance with the French commandant, but he, together with others, was taken to the above named storage house. Immediately the shelling began and one shell destroyed the eastern part of the building; broken beams and iron, with the burning roof, fell down on the people inside and part of them attempted to escape through the door leading to the river, but there they were subjected to the fire of machine guns and rifles from the nearby cruiser.

French patrols guard the French zone of Odessa, bounded by the port and Nikolaevsky Boulevard .

Among those killed, the witnesses have recognized the following inhabitants of the city of Borislav: Andrey Kalujny and one woman, Zborovskaya.

Witnesses Cheremohenko, Bonde, and Grank have told how a militiaman, named Goldberg, was taken and shot just for being in a soldier’s overcoat.

Efrisinya Musika related that her husband Panteley Musika was taken by Greek soldiers and shot by them.

Witness Kaplun, a superintendent of the Kherson Navigation School, together with his sons Vladimir and Tsezar, were taken to the above named storage house. His testimony corroborates that of Jaton. One of his sons was killed in the storage house. At the time of his arrest his home was robbed by the Greeks.

An instructor in the same school, Alexander Salnikov, corroborates that the cannonading was done by the French torpedo boat located not over one verst from the city.

Civil war and foreign intervention in Russia (1918-1921). French invaders in Odessa in March 1919.

Witness Peter Gaber tells that at their arrest his sister Yanofskaya, who had not recuperated from her confinement, begged the Greek soldiers to leave her with her new-born babe, but they did not pay any attention to her condition and took her with the others. On the way to the storage house, Salnikov’s mother, an old woman of 73, fell down, but one officer did not permit anyone to help her. Next day, Peter Gaber found her lying on a sidewalk with a bullet in her leg. Wife and child of Peter were shot. His evidence has been corroborated by Alexander Panteleev.

Witnesses Alexander Bugman, Boris Voznalov, with his wife and Ivan Zakharov show that on March 9th, Greek soldiers threatening to execute, dragged out from the basement of Serebryakof’s house, hiding there from the cannonading of the city, Boris Bezpalov, his wife with a child of 3 years, house servant Anuta, 15 years old, his brother David, another servant Khaya of 13 years, his mother, an old woman of 62 years, and a third servant, Fooma. Together with Bezpalov they were dragged out of the baiement, hiding there, teacher Pinsker from Minsk province, citizen Zakharov and Bezpalov’s neighbor Mendel, with his wife and two children, and Bezpalov’s brother Zetman and Jacob Shneierson. They were taken under guard to the storage house in the harbor, where appeared a Greek officer soon, who through an interpreter announced: “All of you ought to be shot as Russian prisoners, but I will do you a favor and will leave you here until the arrival of the Bolsheviks, when you will be released.”

‘Renault tanks with French soldiers mixed with civilians and White Army soldiers during the military intervention in the Black Sea in 1919.’

After that the Allies began the cannonading of the storage house, and by their fire there were seriously wounded: Boris Bezpalov, his wife, servant, Zakharov and Jacob Shneierson. There disappeared, probably killed in the fire, Bezpalov’s mother, a girl. Teacher Pinsker, and the whole family of Mendet. There died in the Jewish Hospital from wounds, Zalman Shneierson.

Besides this, Boris Bezpalov declares that Greek soldiers, while searching him, took away from him a pocket book with over 1,000 rubles.

Before the cannonading of the storage house, there entered several Greek soldiers and French sailors and lighted the inside with candles. The witnesses presume that this was done in order to be sure that the arrested persons were all there. At the head of them was a chief officer, who. according to the uniform described by Izrail Zacharov, appeared to be a commander of the Greek Coast Guard.

‘Special purpose armored division of the Council of People’s Commissars of Ukraine with a captured French tank “Renault FT-17”, captured near Odessa from the French army in late March – early April 1919. Kharkov, Nikolaevskaya Square, April 22, 1919. Aleksey Selyavkin looks out of the hatch of the Renault tank.’

Post-mortem medical examination disclosed that many of the killed had been bayonetted while still alive.

All the above mentioned facts show in sufficient degree what were the methods of the French Command in Southern Ukrainia in the campaign that it is carrying on against Ukrainian workmen and peasants, in its attempt to re-establish the rule of the landlords, the capitalists and the old bureaucracy.

French ships retreat from Odessa, late April, 1919.

Expressing deep indignation, and protesting against the atrocious deeds of the French Command and the Greek soldiers, before the whole civilized world, and particularly before the French working class, the Ukrainian Socialist Soviet Republic considers it necessary to announce that the responsibility for all these deeds falls upon the Chief Commander of French Forces in the South, General Anselme, who hereby is declared to be outside the law.

April 4, 1919. Chairman of the Ukrainian Soviet Government and Commissar for Foreign Affairs. (Signed) RAKOVSKY.

Hryhoriv’s Red cavalry forces enter Odessa after the French military evacuated the city, April 1919.

II. Our complete investigation proved that in the executions that have taken place in the Odessa in the night from the first to the second of March, four French officers took a direct and active part

One of the Serbian comrades who was sentenced along with 11 other workmen, that have been shot who succeeded on the way to the Jewish Cemetery in escaping by jumping off the auto truck, corroborates the evidence of other witnesses. He also points out the merciless beating to which the arrested men and women were subjected before they were executed. In the executions the French officers have taken the most active part, alongside of Russian White Guards.

Christian Rakovsky.

As a result of these repeated executions, the Provincial Executive Committee of Kherson has given the following notice to the government: The Provincial Executive Committee hereby informs all Soviets and Revolutionary Committees that at its session of March 16th, there was passed, on the motion of the Communist faction, the following resolution concerning the atrocities going on in Odessa: All white-guardists, “samostyiniks,” and representatives of the bourgeoisie are to be arrested and transferred to the concentration camps. All Soviets or Deputies and Revolutionary Committees are to be instructed to carry out this measure and an ultimatum is to be sent to the government of Odessa, that for each workman or peasant killed, there will be executed 10 men from among the representatives of the White Guard and bourgeoisie, domestic and foreign.

(Signed) Chairman of Executive Committee, LUBETZKY. Secretary of Executive Committee, MIKHAILOV.

Calling to the above the attention of the French Government in Paris, which has a share in the government of Odessa, the Ukrainian Socialist Soviet Republic has ordered the arrest of some of the French citizens in the Ukrainian Republic, to be interned and held as a guarantee against further atrocities.

Chief of the Ukrainian Soviet Government and Commissar for Foreign Affairs, (Signed) RAKOVSKY.

Soviet Russia began in the summer of 1919, published by the Bureau of Information of Soviet Russia and replaced The Weekly Bulletin of the Bureau of Information of Soviet Russia. In lieu of an Embassy the Russian Soviet Government Bureau was the official voice of the Soviets in the US. Soviet Russia was published as the official organ of the RSGB until February 1922 when Soviet Russia became to the official organ of The Friends of Soviet Russia, becoming Soviet Russia Pictorial in 1923. There is no better US-published source for information on the Soviet state at this time, and includes official statements, articles by prominent Bolsheviks, data on the Soviet economy, weekly reports on the wars for survival the Soviets were engaged in, as well as efforts to in the US to lift the blockade and begin trade with the emerging Soviet Union.

PDF of full issue: https://www.marxists.org/history/usa/pubs/srp/v1-soviet-russia-June-Dec-1919.pdf

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