Steiger Trial

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STEIGER TRIAL , trial held in 1924–25 in Lvov against the Jew Stanislaw Steiger on the trumped-up charge that he had conspired to assassinate the Polish president. As a result of the tension among the Ukrainians in Galicia in the wake of international recognition of Polish rule over this region, an unsuccessful attempt was made to assassinate President S. Wojciechowski when he officially opened the "Fair of the East" in the town. It was clear to all that this was an act perpetrated by a clandestine Ukrainian organization which sought to undermine the Polish rule. The real conspirator, Teofil Olszański, succeeded in escaping across the border and found refuge in Berlin, while the police arrested a Jewish student on the spot as a suspect. In order to substantiate the accusations against Steiger, the prosecution produced a lengthy series of dubious testimonies serving Polish political interests, which attempted to minimize Ukrainian agitation in the region and divert public attention to the alleged crime of the Jew.

The manifestations of hysteria which accompanied the giving of evidence set off storms of mass antisemitism in the streets. Distinguished Jewish advocates, such as Nathan *Loewenstein (von Opoka) and Leib Landau, took part in the defense. As a result of the tension, Jewish public leaders were imprisoned and the life of Steiger was endangered. Israel *Waldman, who maintained friendly relations with Ukrainian statesmen in Vienna, endeavored to convince the responsible leaders publicly to admit their role in the act. Once his efforts had failed, he revealed all the details of his negotiations in Vienna and Berlin on this subject when he testified before the tribunal in Lvov. Nathan Rand, who had previously been in the service of the Ukrainian government-in-exile, followed his example. The impact of these revelations brought about Steiger's acquittal on Dec. 20, 1925.


N. Loewenstein, O sprawie Steigera (1926).

[Moshe Landau]