Sunday, October 20, 2013

Mendel Beilis -- Trip to Kharkov

This is the summary of the 13th day of the Mendel Beilis trial, which occurred on 7 October, 1913 on the Julian calendar, 20 October, 1913 on the Gregorian calendar.

This day occupies pages 476 through 531 of Volume I of the transcript.

 See the transcript translation for day 13.

Today Sergey Ivanovich Brazul-Brushkovsky testifies about his two private investigations of Yushchinsky’s murder, and Arnold Davidovich Margolin about his involvement, particularly the trip to Kharkov.  These two and Krasovsky were closely involved in identifying the role of Vera Cheberyak and her gang in the murder, waking the government up to the fact that they weren’t going to get the easy verdict they thought was their due as stemming from the will of the Tsar.

One of the most astounding statements in the trial is in this part of the testimony.  Brazul (as he is usually called) claims that Fenenko told him on 28 December 1911 that Vera Cheberyak couldn’t lie.  It is impossible that Fenenko could have taken four depositions from Vera and two from her husband and still say this.  The record of the trial and of other work on the subject of the trial show that he could not have been that na├»ve and still survive his own refusal to endorse the ritual murder charge.  Perhaps Brazul misunderstood.

Vipper here insists on a number of those questions that should never have been asked.  He should never have asked Brazul whether the interest of the latter depended from the start and through the end of 1911 on the supposed ritual nature of the murder.  The government was trying to pretend that ritual murder had nothing to do with the case right up until May 23 1913 when they published the indictment that would be used at trial.  Vipper wasn’t involved until March 1913 and more than once has acted as if he had no clue as to previous machinations.

In the middle of the day, Shmakov rants about foreign newspapers getting hold of Brazul’s material and publishing it, and says or pretends that Brazul made this happen.  Apparently he has no idea that there are foreigners in Russia who could have read Brazul’s work, translated it and sent it to their own newspapers in hardcopy or by wire.  Shmakov is mad because the articles discredited the government case before it even went to trial.  He has a worse problem, however, because a monarchist newspaper, Kievlyanin, has been supporting Brazul’s position.  Pikhno and Shulgin, the editors, both disagreed with Shmakov’s ritual murder obsession and said so in the pages of Kievlyanin.

The other problem here is the prosecution’s and judge’s failure to deal adequately with Brazul’s entire history in the case.  They blame him for contradicting himelf when actually, he clearly says that his December 1911 conversation with Fenenko and his January 12 1912 declaration to Chaplinsky came from data given him by Cheberyak, but the May 6 declaration and May 31 publication derived from information he got after he lost all his trust in her, and his July 1912 written denunciation of her as a participant in the murder was the basis for his testimony to Mashkevich in July.  Unfortunately instead of repeating this timeline again and again until he wears them out -- which is the only way to deal with them -- Brazul goes off into philosophical issues.

Margolin does something that more of the defendants should have done: every time he gets asked a question he already answered, he points that out.  Shmakov gets this treatment a lot, plus before Margolin answers Shmakov’s typically incomprehensible questions he pins Shmakov down on exactly what it is he wants to know instead of guessing and getting sneered at.

Margolin says one thing in his testimony that probably went under everybody’s radar.  On day 12, Gaevskaya told the court that Cheberyak said to udalit Andrey, while Vera claimed she was talking about her kids making noise at Christmas.  When Margolin retails Vera’s rant about Andrey’s relatives killing him, Margolin uses the identical word.  He is obviously quoting Cheberyak since there are lots of words in Russian, just as in English, for getting rid of somebody.  On day 12 Cheberyak denied using the phrase in December 1910 to refer to Andrey, but on day 13 Margolin says she used the phrase in December 1911 to refer to Andrey, even though she is pretending to speak to the motives of his family.  Nobody noticed because there were so many glaring examples of her lies in her depositions and in court.

Judge:  Fyodor Boldyrev

            Criminal Prosecutor, Oscar Vipper
            Civil Prosecutor Georgy Zamyslovsky
            Private Civil Prosecutor Aleksey Shmakov

            Oscar Gruzenberg
Nikolay Karabchevsky
Dmitry Grigorevich-Barsky
Alexandr Zarudny
Vasily Maklakov

Sergey Ivanovich Brazul-Brushkovsky
Writer, published in Kievan Thought, conducted private investigations in 1911 and 1912
Arnold Davidovich Margolin
Attorney; appointed Gruzenberg to Beilis’ defense, friend of Brazul


© Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights Reserved

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