Ukraine might be a hot mess right now, but the situation was even more dire a century ago. After the Russian Revolution swept the region, Ukraine found itself as an autonomous republic under the command of Symon Petliura. About 10% of its population was Jewish.
At least at its onset, that is. Under Petliura's watch, pogroms became a de facto way of life. It wasn't only his Ukrainian nationals who were to blame, as local warlords, the Russian imperials, the Polish, and even the Red Army pitched in. But Petliura clearly played a role, be it aggressive or passive.
In any case, by 1921, the Ukrainian People's Republic was no more, and Petliura was exiled to Paris. There, a young Jewish man named Sholem Schwarzbard sought him out and shot him in broad daylight. "I have killed a great assassin," Schwarzbard said. He had lost his family in a pogrom.
Amidst a huge media frenzy, Schwarzbard was put on trial and acquitted of all charges. He became known as the avenger of Ukrainian Jews.
As for Petliura's legacy? Well, Ukrainians today treat him as a hero.
We told you it's a hot mess.