In October 2012, I visited Kosiv with a friend, a former shtetl in Galicia – a popular craft market had lured us there. We found no Ukrainian kilim, but we discovered the Jewish cemetery. Back in Germany, Kosiv crosses my way unexpectedly again. Locations can follow you.
Mariia Ginzburg is the founder of the “404 – Unknown Pages” project, a group of mostly young people in Kharkiv who explore hidden sites of Ukrainian history. By asking survivors they investigate an unknown chapter of the Holocaust: Jews who fled Ukraine when the German army was advancing. Mariia’s team consists of people of different age, nationality and profession. The future has begun. An interview.
On Lviv’s facades strange characters can be read in languages that only a handful still speak in the city: Polish, Yiddish and German. This are the old store advertisings, which come to light when a house is being renovated or the plaster falls of the walls.
We can complain or we can take action. SVIT Ukraine helps since 5 years to rescue one of the most important spots of Jewish heritage in Eastern Europe: The Jewish cemetery of Chernivtsi – former Czernowitz. You can be part of it!
The houses and the streets of Chernivtsi have not changed much since the pre-war period. The population, however, has almost completely been replaced. Anyone walking on the streets of Chernivtsi, when looking at the pavement can see on manhole covers which might say “Czernowitz”, “Cernăuţi”, and of course the current name of the city – “Chernivtsi”. The traces of the past are still there.
Yanovska, a former concentration camp in Lviv, was among the locations of horror during the German occupation of Eastern Europe. Nevertheless, this place is largely unknown. What would be the benefit if we knew more about it? And what is needed to happen, so we can learn something from Yanovska?
In the old Jewish quarter of medieval Lviv (Lwow in Polish, Lemberg in German), you can see strange signs on the doorposts. Notches on the right door frame, approximately at shoulder height, which are inclined inwardly in the direction of the person entering the house. Here was a Jewish house blessing attached – a mezuzah.
August 2012. I’ve been wanting for a long time to visit Vizhnitz – Vyzhnytsia in Ukrainian. Maybe because it was the equivalent of the middle-class and assimilated Chernivtsi (Czernowitz) Jewery once. Vizhnitz was a stronghold of Hasidism, of Jewish mysticism and Judaism for the poor. Can you still feel some of it today? Yes, if you manage to find the Jewish cemetery.
Chernivtsi, former Czernowitz, in western Ukraine in August 2012. For the last five years, volunteer organizations have been engaged in the maintenance of the Jewish cemetery. Young people from the whole world remove vines and undergrowth in an attempt to make the cemetery accessible each summer. It is hard physical work but it is possible to learn and experience much.