Records Relating to Steiger Affair, reflected i... | Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust
The Steiger Affair refers to the trial held in Lviv (Lwow) in September of 1924 and in October – December 1925 over a falsely accused Stanislaw Steiger, a Jew and a moderate supporter of the Zionist movement. He was caught on September 5, 1924, he was caught on the spot of assassination attempt to President of Poland, Stanislaw Wojcechowski on one of the central street in the city.
Jewish, Polish and Ukrainian public and political figures became associated with this trial and its discourse vividly illustrated almost irreconcilable controversies and prejudice between ethnonational communities and the Polish state itself.
The Steiger Affair was a combination of fatal coincidences, human errors,
bureaucratic immobility, police ineffectiveness, as well as it was a reflection of the contemporary regional and geopolitical situation. The spirit of the time dictated that it was implausible for an individual, unrelated to a communist, nationalist, or other radical conspiracy, to undertake an attempt on the president’s life. That to some extent could explain the scope, extension, and slow pace of the investigation and court-deliberations. Polish officialdom emphasized: the trial never had been aimed against the Jewish community as a whole; the Jewish circles argued: the trial had turned into a probe for Jewish loyalty and patriotism to the state, while Ukrainian public opinion rather saw it as a manifestation of Polish state-ineffectiveness and Jewish over-reactiveness.
Jewish society cannot but exhibit great concern about the Steiger Affair. If at the first summary trial, it was rather Steiger-oriented, then the second 47-days trial did see a broad Jewish front, acting not only in defense of the evidently innocent man, but also engaged in the counterattack against the Polish right-wing, police brutality, and the authorities’ indifference. In the later publications on the Steiger case, often than not antisemitism was deemed to be a driving force of the whole affair. Yet from historical perspective, admitting antisemitism as a sparkling point of those days, and not denying it influence on the local police and the prosecuting attorneys; on the whole, the Steiger Affair was much more perplexed than simply to be ascribed to the premise of antisemitism. For example, usually harsh on the Ukrainian nationalism, the Polish authorities in this case were reluctant at pursuing a Ukrainian version. Yet an explanation could lie in rather simple argumentation, having had the ‘executor’ in hands, who would take a risk to undermine the so “good-looking” case for the sake of the logically correct, but so fare a virtual one; not forgetting that even on the last day of the trial the four jurors out of twelve voted guilty.