Between Past and Present

The second day in Chernivtsi (Czernowitz): I continue to swing between the past and present of the city, between the remains of the Jewish past and the ongoing protests.

Last night, many stayed in the central square in front of the town hall of Czernowitz. A young woman played on the piano, the grim-looking militants have listened to her peacefully.

This morning again many people have gathered. They commemorate the victims of the past days, light candles, pray. A group of priests appears and holds a memorial service.

I’m on my way to the Jewish cemetery. An icy fog comes up, and lays down white on bushes and shrubs. The cemetery is bathed in ghostly light, the fog seems to swallow all the noise. Now that the vegetation is winterly, the whole area is easily accessible. In two months that will change, then shrubs and vines will make many parts inaccessible again.

On the way back into town I pass again the town hall square. The crowd has grown. The “open microphone ” gives everyone the opportunity to have their say. This are not politicians who are talking, it is the ordinary people. Obviously some pretty talented public speakers are among them.

I visit my friend Mykola Kushnir, the director of the Jewish Museum. We talk about the situation in the country and in the city. Janne, a volunteer of Action Reconciliation, shows me the new project of the museum: an exhibition and teaching materials for schools. It is important for young people to learn that the Holocaust did not take place somewhere but in their town, in their village, says Mykola.

In the afternoon I meet Alex, a young activist of the local Jewish community. He has been recommended to me by a friend from Odessa. Alex turns out to be a very nice and enthusiastic person, I like him from the first moment on. He wants to encourage young people of the community to participate in the next work-camp to clear the Jewish cemetery of Czernowitz. After a long walk and a conversation that meanders between many things both of us are interested in, we part with a hug. Good to have a new friend here!

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2 thoughts on “Between Past and Present

  1. Great report, Christian, thank you so much! We are following you step-by-step. Please declare our solidarity with our czernowitzer friends! Take care and be safe!

  2. Pingback: Majdan! Ucraina, Europa? | qualEUropa

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