Kosiv today

The volunteers of SVIT Ukraine, who clear the Jewish cemetery in Chernivtsi (Czernowitz), were out for a day trip today. On the itinerary was among others the Galician town of Kosiv – famous for its local crafts market – and its Jewish cemetery. In the densely overgrown cemetery we met an old man who was mowing grass with a scythe. He had a story to tell.

‘I’m doing this since some years’ tells the old man. He is poorly paid by the municipality. He would need more and better tools to be more efficient, he says. What do you do with a scythe against a forest? So far he has got nothing – despite all his complains. ‘People come here to drink, others come to take drugs in the bushes’, he says.

‘Did you ever walk up to the top of the cemetery’s hill?’ he asks. ‘No, what’s there?’ I answer. ‘Jews were hiding there in the ruins of an old fortification. When the Germans found out, they went up and shot them’ tells the old man.

The old man knows this story from his mother. Few survived hidden under floorboards, he remembers. Local Ukrainians brought them food. The old man keeps this memory alive. He mowes grass.

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