From June 5 to 15 I will travel in Ukraine again. Together with my friend Sylvia de Swaan I will thereby explore an area that is unknown to most people. However, those who have heard of Transnistria, think of the place with horror.
Former Transnistria has nothing to do with the present part of Moldova by the same name, which has declared its independence and is one of the “frozen conflicts” created by Russia in recent years. Literally, the term means the “land beyond river Dniester” and referres to a region in Podolia, now part of Ukraine. Transnistria was a place of mass deportations during the Romanian Holocaust. Jews from Bukovina, Bessarabia and Odessa were deported to concentration camps and ghettos in Transnistria. They were often handed over to the Germans as workers – a journey of no return.
My friend Sylvia was deported with her mother and sister to Transnistria, when she was still a baby. All three have survived and Sylvia is now a great photographer in America. Photography will naturally play an important role in our journey. But for us – me as the son of a German soldier and for Sylvia as a survivor – our talks will be important as well. We’ll see where we this second journey – the journey of talks – will lead us.
So far, our itinerary consists of these places:
Bratslav, a center of Hasidism
Tulchyn, where Sylvia and her family were in the ghetto
Cariera de Piatra (Romanian for quarry), one of the many former Romanian concentration camps in the region
Mykhailivka, a former German concentration camp
Chernivtsi, a former shtetl with a today deserted town’s center – not the Chernivtsi (Czernowitz) the readers of this blog know
Mohyliv-Podilskyi, one of the largest ghettos in Transnistria, which gained sad literary celebrity by Edgar Hilsenrath’s novel “Night”
As always, I am grateful for advice on everything located along our route.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
2011 visit with Lviv friend and researcher Alex Denysenko, as re-posted and supplemented by our mutual friend Edgar Hauster: http://ehpes.com/blog1/2011/11/11/visit-to-mohyliv-podilskyi-a-team-work-2/
L ooking forward – with much anticipation – to your travel diaries and photos. My family – Luger – from Craciunesti, Romania – some were sent to Tran’i.
Blessings for a safe trip
My grandmother was from Craciunesti. Her parents were Vigdor and Leia Luger. If you are connected and have family information please email to me. Thank you.
My family and I were deported to “Shargorod” in Transnistria from Suceava , Romania. I lost some cousins, uncles and aunts plus my maternal and paternal grand parents. we were liberated by the Russian army came through. My parents and I survived and live in NJ now. Yet I never hear Shargorod ever being mentioned. Were all the atrocities
performed there in vain? Hope that you have a safe trip, and please let me know if that town still exists.
Sharhorod still exists, Bibi, and is well known for its old synagogue.
Good luck in your travels, have a safe journey – I am looking forward to your pictures and stories. My great-grandmother, together with her younger brother and his family (wife and two children) died of typhus in Obodovka. My grandfather’s youngest sister survived to tell the story. Other relatives died in Edinet and my grandfather’s cousin was a prisoner and was killed in a German camp somewhere in that area – not sure where.
Thank you for sharing this memories, Dana! Of course I will report from the road as good as possible…