Again, I was travelling with Vasyl and Renata. I highly appreciate both of them – because of their kindness and because of their excellent knowledge of local history. My journey is slowly coming to an end and it was a final opportunity to explore Galicia during this trip. Olesko and Busk were the places we went to.
Olesko is famous for its castle, which is connected with the Polish royal house. Jan Sobieski, King of Poland, whose cavalry defeated the Turks at the gates of Vienna, was born here. In the parking lot at the foot of the castle hill was a convoy of coaches. Surprisingly, there were only Ukrainian buses, no Polish ones, which I expected here. What impressed me the most, however, was not the castle itself, but the wonderful collection of icons, which is exhibited there.
In Olesko there is not only Polish heritage to explore. The ruins of a synagogue and a small Jewish cemetery bear witness to the multi-ethnic heritage of the place. Little is preserved from the Jewish cemetery. A small hill with an Ohel on the top and only a few grave stones. The synagogue is a ruin.
On the way back to Lviv we stoped in Busk. The local synagogue is one of the strangest buildings I’ve seen in Ukraine. Two-thirds of the building are used by the Baptist community as a church. The other part is used as a residence. 8 families share the few rooms. Renata told that they were promised new apartments, a promise that has never kept.
I already know the Jewish cemetery of Busk, but it impressed me again. The stonecarvings of the old grave stones are gorgeous. But the Jewish cemetery of Busk is also a very sad place. At the foot of the hill several mass graves were located and examined by Yahad in Unum, a foundation by the French Catholic curch. Traces of these excavations are still visible. Here are the remains of the former Jewish population of Busk. While I photograph I realize that I’m walking over the bodies of hundreds of victims.
It’s not the first time that I made this experience, but I still do not know how to cope with it. To photograph the locations, to document them, and to talk about this experience is the only answer I have so far.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.