Through the window

Vikno is a Ukrainian village north of Chernivtsi (Czernowitz), near the Dniester River. My friend Halyna originates from this village and yesterday she showed me the place of her childhood. With us were Halyna’s mother and our friends Tetyana and Sergey. Thank you friends!

Vikno means window in Ukrainian – an enigmatic name for a villages. People make jokes about it, says Halyna. If someone says he came from Vikno, he is asked why he had not come through the door. The house of Halynas family is a typical village house from the 50s or 60s. Every detail is made with love, I liked especially the wall and ceiling paintings.

Halyna showed us the spring of the village. She remembers that she has washed laundering there as a child. Not far from there are a Soviet war memorial and a newer monument that commemorates the deportation of locals by the Soviets to Siberia. Several of Halynas family members are on the list. They never returned.

In front the old manor house, which once belonged to an Austrian nobleman, we met relatives of Halyna and were expected by the mayor who brought the keys to the house. The Mayor turned out to be a kind man who guided us around with pride. During the Soviet period the mansion was transformed into a cultural center. Of the original decoration nothing has been preserved, but also the Soviet Kitsch has its own charm.

During the Brusilov offensive in World War I fierce fighting took place near Vikno. The mayor wanted to show us the place. Two monuments commemorate the thousands of soldiers who died here. On the edge of the battle field one has a magnificent view over the Dniester Canyon. We took a break, enjoyed the view, and had a picnic. Hard to imagine that so many people died at this location. Halyna says, the name is Vikno – window – comes from the clear spring water. I believe it comes from the window into the past the place is.

We made a detour to the river bank. A ferry connects Bukovina with Galicia. People bathed, Halyna also jumped into the water. A cow stared melancholic to the buzzling scene.

Thank you, friends, for that day!

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6 thoughts on “Through the window

  1. Christian: thank you very much for the post and photos of Vikno. This is the town where my father was born and I’m only sorry I didn’t know ahead of time that you were going there. I’ve had the town listed on JewishGen as a place of interest for many, many years and have never been contacted by anyone else who came from there. I visited Vikno in 2006 and took lots of photographs although I did not see some of the places you mentioned nor was I able to see the river (buy suspect I would have needed to be taken had to a higher vantage point to see it). I did see the spring coming from the side of a small hill, flowing through a concrete enclosure, then crossing the road and becoming a stream that probably joined the river some distance away. At the time, my daughter who was traveling with me, suggested the spring might have been the source of water for a mikveh for the town’s small Jewish community. She thought this because it was across the road from what we were told was the location of the town’s former synagogue (that had since been replaced by an imposing church).
    At some point, I would like to send you some of the photos that I took but unfortunately I am away from home and can’t access them. If you have any other photos of the town I would be most appreciative if you would share them with me. With many thanks and best regards,

      • Hi Christian,
        Thank you so much for this post and the photos. I have been researching my family history for years and have barely been able to find any information about Vikno, my grandfather’s birthplace. Please feel free to share any photos with me. I will continue looking through your blog.

  2. Hi, I would love to see more photos of Vikno from either of you. It is the village my grandfather was born in and I have not found very much information online. Please share whatever you are willing 🙂

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