High up in the Carpathians

Today we traveled further west, deeper into the Carpathians. The Monastery of Voroneţ and the Jewish heritage of Vama and Câmpulung Moldovenesc were on our way. Again and we looked for the remaining traces of Jewish Bukovina, for cemeteries and synagogues.

We started the day with a visit of one of the famous Moldavian monasteries. In Voroneţ
the walls are painted in bright colors. On the outer west side the last judgment is shown. While the saints march into paradise, the devils have a lot of work in hell.

The Jewish cemetery of Vama was build on a steep slope. It is so steep that we had difficulty reaching the very top. This situation has contributed to the destruction of the cemetery. Many stones are tumbled and slid down the slope. The stones that we found still standing upright are from postwar or interwar period. A forest has overgrown parts of the terrain. A strange place.

We continued westward to Câmpulung Moldovenesc, a bigger town. The three preserved synagogues were easy to find. One is located next to  a busy market, another one on the main street – today it is a club. Whether this club is still in operation, is difficult to say. At the back of the building are attachments that have crumbled to ruins. The Great Synagogue is still in use. In the office, we met an old lady who was hammering into a typewriter in a bad mood. The synagogue is closed, she let us know. Disappointed we went.

Finding the Jewish cemetery was difficult. A friendly pharmacist sent us to a Christian cemetery. Better local experts were two young police officers who could tell us the right direction at least. As in Gura Humorului someone lives on the cemetery – also guarding the place. One enters the cemetery via a narrow access between the house and an Ohel. The stones close behind stand packed; after a few meters, the terrain is more open.

Just before we wanted to leave, Petra made a discovery. By accident she found the graves of the sister of the famous tenor Joseph Schmidt and her husband. Petra was delighted – she is the biggest Joseph Schmidt fan, I know.

Back on the road we drove towards Vatra Dornei, a picturesque old spa in the middle of the Carpathians. The landscape with its dense forests and snowy peaks is breathtaking. Tired and hungry we arrived. What Vatra Dornei has to offer, we will explore tomorrow.

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2 thoughts on “High up in the Carpathians

  1. These pictures and your work can be interpreted in two ways: the vanished world or the world that is vanishing before our eyes. Seeing the over-run Jewish cemetaries from the time since the Holocaust is so terribly sad.
    On the one hand your work can be seen by the world as not very significant; a photographer taking pictures of old cemetaries. But I believe that this is incredible work that should be broadcast across the world.

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