Friday, November 15, 2013

Mendel Beilis -- Vipper loses his mind

This is the summary of the 32nd day of the Mendel Beilis trial, which occurred on 26 October, 1913 on the Julian calendar, 8 November, 1913 on the Gregorian calendar.

This day occupies pages 177 through 234 of Volume III of the transcript.
See the translation of the transcript for day 32.

Gruzenberg finishes his closing arguments.  He becomes increasingly emotional at the end and moved me at least to tears with his recommendation to Beilis, if convicted, to say the prayer all Jews say at death.  Twenty years of hard labor would have been a death sentence, whether slowly from the work and climate, or quickly literally at the hands of the officials or the other prisoners.

Zarudny unleashes some classically scathing Irish-style satire, the kind that ought to kill.  He keeps calling Vipper “talented” while pointing out every mistake of fact or logic made in his closing speech.  He keeps calling Shmakov “scholarly” and taunts him for answering questions that Pranaitis refused to.  This was all the more embarrassing for Shmakov as in his closing argument, as you remember, he said an expert can’t be considered an expert if he doesn’t answer the questions put to him.

Karabchevsky takes up what the other attorneys mostly left alone: Zamyslovsky.  As the “old lion” of Russian jurisprudence, Karabchevsky hardly had to worry about what revenge Zamyslovsky might take against him in the Duma. 

Vipper makes a response after Karabchevsky’s speech.  It is a raving, ranting, foam-at-the-mouth performance, in places misrepresents facts and in others is incomprehensible.  I think he has totally lost it at this point, probably after watching the jury nod over and over as the defense made their shrewd and practical rebuttals.  He cannot be in his right mind at this point.  Why Boldyrev allowed it to continue, I cannot imagine.

Zarudny shows, by indirection, that Troitsky and Kokovtsov, both Christians, refuted what Pranaitis said in the closed-door conference on day 28.  Zarudny says “sacrilege” while Shmakov said the subject of “blasphemy” was addressed in the conference.  Because “blasphemy” was the charge leveled against Talmud in the 1554 Papal Bull that resulted in censoring Talmud, it becomes clear that Pranaitis was allowed to air the false claims in his thesis that Talmud refers to Jesus, and he got put down.  (I’ve done my homework and I know Pranaitis’ claims are false.)  Boldyrev can’t sleep through this in case he has to squelch any quoting by Zarudny.  Zarudny confirms that the jury was present during the conference. 

Once again Boldyrev makes the hypocritical or downright stupid claim that nobody is accusing the Jewish religion of anything.  Zarudny comes back with a comment that “these are not just books of fanatics that are being raked through, they are the books of the general Jewish religion.”

You may be taking it literally when the attorneys talk about “the bloody shirt” but this is not the only place and time when “the bloody shirt” was waved to engage people’s emotions.  For decades after the American Civil War “the bloody shirt” was a term for a political rallying cry in the North against easing restrictions on the South.

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

© Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights Reserved

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