During the carnival, I fled my hometown Cologne for a week and traveled to Ukraine. For three days, I was on the road with friends. On February 20, our route led us to Medenychi, Opory, Rivne (Königsau), Skole, Lysiatychi, Lavochne and Rozhniativ.
This time my friends Marla and Jay took over the complete travel planning. They are researching for their project in Rohatyn how the memory of the Jewish heritage is dealt with in other places. Some of it is sobering, because there are often no memorials on the mass graves of the Jews who were shot and the locations can only be estimated. Some Jewish cemeteries are completely empty or in a depressing state.
It is all the more touching when you come across places where tombstones have been returned to the cemetery – presumably from construction sites. In western Ukraine, this has become a real movement in the recent years. It also makes it clear that the local residents know where the Jewish cemeteries are located. Again and again we were approached by old people who shared their childhood memories with us. They remember the Jewish neighbors vividly. Some of them voluntarily take care of the abandoned cemeteries in their neighborhood. Their stories of how the Jews were murdered are often shocking.
One place was of particular interest to me: Rivne, the former Königsau. It is a former German colony – one of many such settlements in the region. The street pattern of the village is unusual – it is laid out in the shape of a pentagon. Areta Kovalska has documented the history of the place in her excellent blog Forgotten Galicia: https://forgottengalicia.com/konigsau-galicias-pentagon-shaped-german-colony. The German cemetery is still preserved.
In the evening of this long day we finally reached Rozhniativ. After the many destructions we had seen, it was a pleasure to find an undestroyed cemetery. We walked through this enchanted garden for a long time.
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