About this blog

Nearly 70 years after the holocaust Eastern Europe is still covered by neglected Jewish cemeteries, ruins of synagogues and other remains of  Jewish institutions – stranded ships at the shores of time. The traces of Jewish life are still there, but they vanish day by day. It’s only a matter of time until they are gone forever. There are no municipalities, no foundations and no miracles to save them. Public interest is often low and sometimes overshadowed by guilt. The future of this unique cultural heritage is in our hands – and partly some of this private initiatives are very efficient. This blog tries to recall those places into public consciousness and wants to encourage people for the rescue of a heritage we all share.

As Swiss diplomat and historian Simon Geissbühler said, “commemoration is also an act of justice” towards those men, women and children who died as innocent victims in the genocide, known as the holocaust. It is an act of justice towards those who survived as well.

Most of the entries in this blog are based on my personal experiences. They have the character of a travel diary and are not a scientific documentary. Don’t expect me to post daily. Posts will appear as trips give reasons for it. There will be times of frequent posts and days of silence.

42 thoughts on “About this blog

  1. My family was from Viznitz. I am thinking of trying to go there with my cousin. I would like to know more about the logistics of doing this. Are you willing to correspond via email? I would really appreciate learning more. Thank you so much!

    • Shalom Marthe Schulwolf,
      Just read today 02 April 2013 your recent posting in the “Vanshed World,” blog, if you have not gone yet to
      Viznitz and are still interested in logistics, maybe I can help. I too was in Viznitz, (very short visit mainly in
      Chernowitz and shteitels north-east of Chernowitz) with a cousin in May-June 2010.

      Please contact me at: Sabaisio@yahoo.com

      All the best,
      Aizic Sechter

      Marthe Schulwolf

      February 10, 2013 at 10:23 pm

      My family was from Viznitz. I am thinking of trying to go there with my cousin. I would like to know more about the logistics of doing this. Are you willing to correspond via email? I would really appreciate learning more. Thank you so much!

    • Dear Mr Geissbuhler,
      I have read your recent article “He Spoke Yiddish Like A Jew” and was very impressed by the way you have summarized the immense amount of information.
      My mother survived the pogrom in Stanestii de Jos on July 5, 1941 and is the first cousin of Hannah Weisenfeld. The pregnant woman that you mention who was beheaded that day was my mother’s aunt Chaya, for whom I am named. In America they gave Hebrew names to Jewish children but of course I was given an American name as well, Carol. I am currently finishing my first book which mostly deals with the effect the Holocaust and Diapora have had on the next generations.
      If you receive this mail I would love to hear from you
      Thank you very much
      Carol Elias

  2. Shalom Christian,
    Very interesting.
    I visited the Chernivtsy area with a cousin in May-June 2010
    Mainly to visit this area because my ancestors both from the side of
    my Mother and father lived there and many are buried there.
    My father’s shteitel is Klishkivtsy which is in the middle of the road
    between Chernivtsy and Khotin, my mother’s town is just about 5
    kilometers further east on the same road towards Khotin called
    I would like to ask you how I could contact the groups of volunteers you
    mention that assist in clearing and cleaning cemeteries.
    Klishkivtsy has two Jewish cemeteries, the first one, one of the oldest
    in this area (if not the oldest one) dates back to about 1750 if not before
    that Jewish people were buried there not only from Klishkivtsy but from
    all the area till about 1880 when the cemetery did not have any more
    space. then a new (the second Jewish cemetery) was established in a
    other area. Jews were buried there till the early 1960s when the last
    Jews left Klishkivtsy. (During World War I and World War II the Jews
    of Klishkivtsy and the shteitels nearby were expelled from their homes
    so then no Jews were buried there)
    Today both cemeteries are in very bad condtions, specially the older one.
    Also I believe that the restoration of these cemeteries should include ways
    and means to stop the continuous growth of the plants and trrees, maybe
    with some herbicides and then putting black polythene sheets on the ground
    covered with small peebles and wood chips, and then twice or three times
    a year there will only be a need to go over the small growth with some
    herbicides. What do you think?
    Please reply to my email address: sabaisio@yahoo.com
    Aizic Sechter

  3. My family was from Chernivitsy area. We know very little of their history. They left for Canada in 1896 and we never heard about he ‘old country’, except about the plum trees and orhards. My great grand parents fled and established businesses in whatever land they could get on the prairies, which turned out to be not great for farming. They left behind everything in Bukovina. It is most amazing to visit there through your photos.Thank you for this photo and word legacy of a ‘forgotten place’.

    • Hello Susan, I am originally from Chernovitz. After graduating from high schooI, I left with my family in 1991, I still remember a lot about the area. There is quite a bit of information about the city and its history online. Do you know Romanian, German, Russian or Ukrainian?

  4. Hi,

    Just ran into a link to this blog, I did not know about it before.
    I like what you have written, good work, important posts, I will follow.

    I am an artist/architect/photographer who documents old Israeli architecture, in Israel, especially abandoned buildings and especially from the 20th century so I feel close to this agenda.

    Sharon Raz

  5. I read your post from Dec 29th titled a Walk Through Lutsk with much interest. My Grandfather and Great-Grandfather were born in Lutsk. I am thinking of visiting there this summer with my parents. I would love to hear more about the logistics of your trip there. If you are willing to email me i would be quite grateful. Thank you very much.

  6. Christian, I will visit your blog again. I think you are a valuable resource as I learn more about my Orthodox Great Grandparents and the world they left behind in Boryslaw and Sambor when they came to America.

  7. Shalom! You ‘re doing a great job. But, I think, that is important also, to create a concise map for locate places, synagogues, shtetlakh, cemeteries (and informations)… I’m tryng to create a map with google map for save former and active jewish places, but I don’t travel much and I’m ignorant of computer. Then if you want help me or if you want know more about my project, my contact is il-amirhazon@hotmail.fr My name is Moshe.

  8. Thank you Christian for this amazing blog. It’s bought my family much pleasure & my mother, nostalgia.
    Would you please let me know of any good research about Borislaw?
    Would you please put me in touch with Professor Josef Lipman or let me know how I can contact him?
    Thank you, Ruth

  9. I wondered if you ever travelled to Tovtry in Ukraine. It is 19 miles north of Chernivitsi and 4 miles NNE of Zastovna in the northern part of the Buckovina region. My mother’s family came from this town(formerlyTanceni). I would love to see pictures of the town and find out the location of the closest Jewish cemetery.

  10. Thank you! This is very important to my family. My great great great granny – Rivkah Reigenstreif Pinkaaovicz was buried the just before the war found Tiachiv. So the former synagogue, is now a gym,can we contact the present owner please??? We would be very grateful as we will try and get there in the near future! We are well aware of our history in this City and would like to see it asap! We thought it would be best from Budapest, but it has been very difficult to arrange to get there! How did you get there??? Please help! Tiachiv cemetery is well protected you say – is there anyone in charge?? So you think we could get in? We would need some time to search in there? Viewing from the earthen elevation would not be enough!

  11. Hi! I just discovered your blog. My ancestors are from Dubno and Trovitz which was near Lutzk. I am going to the Ukraine and would be so grateful for any tips on the logistics.

  12. Mazal tov! I am not a Jew , so I am sorry to come here. I am trying to understand Jews and still have some problems.I am Ukrainian and say ”sorry” if there was unjust treating in history from our side.If anybody likes to
    explain me some things–please try. I already spoke to Jews a lot so I am not a green man.

  13. Please, make me contact Jews of this blog. Especially from Stanislaw =now Iwano-Frankiwska oblast =woyewodstwo, especially town Kolomyya.
    I ‘ll talk to them if it’s ok.

  14. Moreover , I can leave my Skype address and I answer their questions in name of Ukrainians to a certain extent , if they like about the past. Because I can talk well enough and I am talkative.
    Thank You for answer, Christian. I guess that Your mother is not Jewish , thats why You say…

  15. I remember on a visit to Czernivtsi in Ukraine in 1992 seeing a long row of houses near a hospital, which was a Jewish (children’s?) hospital. What stays in my mind are the imprints of long-vanished mezuzahs next to the front doors of the houses. It was a haunting image. Can you tell me what vanished neighborhood that would have been? I also remember the synagogue in the city center that had been converted to a cinema.

  16. The motivation behind this blog and the beauty and depth of the photography are astounding. Thank you for your years of doing this kind of “archeology” and sharing your experience and learnings with the world. You inspire me to keep working on my own “recovery” project–a translation of a newspaper published by the Reform Jewish community of Breslau, then Germany, starting in the 1920. If you care to see it, visit liberalbreslau.com.

  17. I would like to get in touch with you about using one of your photographs not in this blog. The photo exhibition is about the story of the struggle to preserve and protect cultural Jewish heritage sites in Poland.

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