May 25 was the last day of our 12-day journey through Galicia, Bukovina and Bessarabia in Ukraine and the Republic of Moldova. Our itinerary took us on the way back to Lviv to Tysmenytsia, Halych, Burshtyn, Rohatyn and Bibrka.
After the efforts of yesterday, we made it easy in the morning and went for a walk to kloyz and court of the Hasidic Rabbi Haim Leifer of Nadvirna. The building is located in a backyard of Ivano-Frankivsk and was apparently just recently renovated. Its original purpose is barely recognizable.
East of Ivano-Frankivsk the town of Tysmenytsia is located, today actually a suburb of the much larger neighbouring city. Jacob Freud, the father of Sigmund Freud, was born here as the son of a rabbi. Heike had prepared something and read out from a letter of Jacob to Sigmund
Ivano-Frankivsk had two Jewish cemeteries, of which only one is preserved. But even this is largely destroyed and empty space indicates where once tombstones stood. However, with its memorials on the mass graves, the cemetery is an impressive remembrance space reminiscent of the fate of the Jews under German occupation.
Halych is not only one of the oldest cities in Galicia and namesake of the region, here there is also a real rarity, a Karaite cemetery. It is not clear where the Karaites came from and whether they converted to Judaism or brought their faith with them from the Middle East. In any case, they were classified as non-Jews by the racial theorists of the Nazis and escaped destruction. They migrated from Asia Minor to Crimea and Western Ukraine and further to the Baltic States. The Karaite cemetery of Halych is picturesquely situated high on the banks of river Dniester.
In Rohatyn we stopped at the old Jewish cemetery and at the eastern mass grave. We sat down at the nearby memorial to Turkish soldiers from the First World War and Heike read the shattering letter of a Jewish woman from the ghetto of Ternopil. For many in the group, it was difficult to endure.
A short stop at the synagogue in Bibrka gave us the opportunity to thank our drivers Vasyl and Alex, who brought us safely and always in a good mood from Ukraine to Moldova and back again. Thank you so much!
At the end of the journey, this also gives me the opportunity to say something about my fellow travelers. The group found me, not me them. So I do not aspire to a career as a tour guide. During the two weeks of time spent together I really appreciated all group members. The vast majority of them are from the former GDR and it was quite an experience for me to listen to them. Some of them – like Jutta and Eberhard – even played a prominent role as civil rights activists in overthrowing the communist regime. While I sat in the car next to Vasyl, a constant narration went on behind me – stories of resistance and repression, but also about everyday life and funny things. All of this enriched my knowledge and I ‘m deeply grateful for this experience!
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