Images may create stories in one’s head – especially when they are arranged to pairs. Thanks to the rich photo material I was able to collect during the trip to Ukraine in April, I arranged some diptychs. They reflect the fate of the local Jewish communities, a genocide and the wipe out of history. But something is always left and speaks to us.
Former Jewish neighborhood of Pidhaitsi. The trace of a mezuzah – a Jewish home blessing – is a last witness.
The Jewish cemetery of Monastyryska was destroyed in the 1980s, shortly before the Soviet Union imploded. The tombstones were smashed into pieces and used to build the base of a pigsty of a collective farm in the neighbouring village of Horishnya Slobidka. There, where the plaster is crumbling, Hebrew letters are getting visible.
In the village of Chabarivka, the ruins of the collective farm “Komunist” (Communist) are situated. When one of the buildings was demolished, a huge number of Jewish tombstone fragments was discovered. They were used to construct the base of a farm building during Soviet rule. It is assumed these fragments are what is left of the Jewish cemetery of the neighbouring town of Husiatyn.
In the small town of Kopychyntsi, the building of the former Jewish self-administration is one of the last reminders of the multi-ethnic past. I don’t know what purpose it served after the extermination of the Jewish community by the Germans. Since the building is abandoned it attracts vandals.
The town of Hrymailiv is mainly known for the ruins of its magnificent synagogue and the remains of a residence of the Potocki family. Thanks to a cadastral map Jay Osborne copied in a local archive my friends and I were able to identify the territory of the former Jewish cemetery. I do not know when the cemetery was destroyed but the place is a park now. While examining the ground, Marla Raucher Osborn found a last tombstone fragment. A last reminder.
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