It was the wish of my friend Arthur to go to Horodenka and Zolotyi Potik (Golden Creek) – small towns in Galicia, from which his ancestors came to Chernivtsi (Czernowitz). Today we have been there; a long day trip through the beauty of the Galician summer. An ocean of flowers over which the storks circle. With us was Maxym, a local photographer and journalist, who maneuvered his car bravely around the potholes.
Horodenka is a substantial town. Maxym knew where the former synagogue is located, it was easy to find near the market. Today the building serves as a sports hall; a friendly director of the sports center let us in. From the inside the building is more impressive than from the outside. We were amazed by the more than a meter thick walls. A mural from the Soviet era dominates the room and a large gym mat. Here is gymnastics, no longer praying.
The Jewish cemetery – off the path in a forest – is one of the strangest cemeteries I’ve ever seen. Almost all grave stones have a uniform appearance. They are made of cement and have a simple Art Nouveau decoration. A monument commemorates the murdered Jews of the town. Two goats and a cow were grazing peacefully in the grounds. Once again it was one of those contradictions that are hard to bear.
We drove on to Zolotyi Potik. After we had crossed Dniester River, the road was extremely bad and we were slow. I admired Maxym for his patience.
The first thing we saw in Zolotyi Potik, was the ruin of a castle of the Potocki family – Polish noblemen with wide-ranging possessions up to Uman in central Ukraine. The real center of Zolotyi Potik was the Jewish quarter. The Germans burned it down during the occupation and murdered the inhabitants. The houses were never rebuilt – now there is a park with a Soviet war memorial. Zolotyi Potik has no center any more.
The Jewish cemetery is located just outside of the town and is an unique place. The grave stones look very old. The devastations of war time are obvious, but the place is well maintained and the grass short – someone cares.
We spent the return trip largely in silence. Only after we were back in Czernowitz, Arthur started talking. Family memories, which he wants to share. There is much to talk about.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.