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Czernowitz and its Jewish cemetery

Czernowitz, its history, its significance for European culture and the Jewish cemetery in it.

Christian Herrmann

on 1 April 2012

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Transcript of Czernowitz and its Jewish cemetery

and its Jewish cemetery
Where is Czernowitz located?
1941 ...
Austria Hungary
Soviet Union
In the by Germany and its allies occupied Europe Czernowitz is occupied by Romanian and German troops.
Soviet Union
Czernowitz was the city of the many nationalities and the many languages spoken;
as well as
some others.
Ukrainian dialects, ...
Polish, ...
Romanian, ...
German and Yiddish, ...
At the beginning of World War II, Czernowitz had over 45 000 Jewish residents. They were the largest ethnic group in the city.
Czernowitz was a Jewish city.
Czernowitz today, still looks
as it did 100 years ago.
Alas, Jewish Czernowitz
has largely disappeared.
Since the start of the Romanian rule Jewish citizens were threatened by discrimination.
It was forbidden to speak German and Yiddish in public.
Romanians enjoyed preferential advantages from the authorities, schools and universities.
During the Soviet occupation in 1940 to 1941, thousands were deported to Siberia.
Especially the Czernowitz Jewish 'Bourgeoisie' suffered.
Early July 1941 Romanian and German troops reach Czernowitz.
Photo: Willy Pragher, Landesarchiv Baden-Württemberg, Freiburg
Photo: Willy Pragher, Landesarchiv Baden-Württemberg, Freiburg
Czernowitz Jews experience destruction, ...
forced labor ...
and finally: confinement in a ghetto and deportation.
It's the end of Jewish Czernowitz.

The courageous mayor Traian Popovici succeeds in temporarily saving nearly 20,000 Jewish residents.

But ultimately over 32 000 Jewish residents are deported to Transnistria, where many do not survive the war.

After the war, most survivors leave.
Photo: Willy Pragher, Landesarchiv Baden-Württemberg, Freiburg
Photo: Willy Pragher, Landesarchiv Baden-Württemberg, Freiburg
If stones could speak ...
Many of the old tombstones are decorated with beautiful carvings.
The motifs are not just decorative, but deeply rooted in Jewish tradition:
A bookcase and a crown refer to religious education.
Hands blessing Shabbat candles indicate the grave of a woman.
The blessing with the spread fingers indicates that the deceased was a Cohen.
The Cohanim were the priests in the temple of Jerusalem.
They still obey very strict laws of purity.
The Lion of Judah represents the Jewish kingdom.
It symbolizes the education and importance of a person.
A deer indicates a beautiful and beloved woman.
Image taken from the song of songs of Solomon.
A broken flower represents a woman who died young.
The image of pouring water over hands symbolizes a Levite.
The Levites served the priests in the temple of Jerusalem.
Paul Celan
Itzik Manger
Rose Ausländer
Karl Emil Franzos
Joseph Schmidt
Czernowitz was known as a city of peaceful coexistence, tolerance, culture and higher education.
Czernowitz was a true city in agrarian surroundings.
It had a tram system, ...
a philharmonic society, ...
a university, ...
the 'Morgenroit', the laborers' educational institute of the Jewish "Bund", ...
hotels, ...
a civic theatre, ...
schools of continuing and higher education, ...
and buildings housing
Nationality centers.
Currently Jewish Czernowitz consists of ...
a small Jewish community, ...
a former Jewish National House, where there is an interesting Jewish Museum, ...
a cinema that once was the Jewish Temple, ...
the center of a protestant sect, which was once a Jewish cultural center, ...
a carpenter's workshop, which was once the 'Groisse Schil', ...
a sports club that once was a synagogue, ...
the 'Kornschil' which will soon be a synagogue again ...
and a large Jewish cemetery.
The Jewish cemetery in Czernowitz is one of the last major urban Jewish cemeteries in the territory of the former Soviet Union.
It is a reminder of ...
traditional Judaism, ...
assimilated Jewish middle class of the 19th Century, ...
the victims of World War I, ...
prosecution during Romanian rule, ...
deportation and mass murder during the German and Romanian occupation in World War II, ...
changes in Jewish life during the Soviet period ...
and the present.
The cemetery, founded in 1866, is situated outside the city center and contains about 50 000 graves over an area of close to 12 hectares.
© Google Maps
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

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Christian Herrmann, 2011, cyberorange@gmx.de
English translation: Miriam Taylor
Advice: Edgar Hauster, Miriam Taylor
SVIT Ukraine, SCI Germany and Action Reconciliation Service for Peace have been organizing work camps to clear the cemetery since 2008.
The Czernowitz Jewish Cemetery Restoration Organization (CJCRO), a not for profit-organization of former Jewish citizens of the city and their descendants, collects donations to help pay for clearing the cemetery of rampant invasive vegetation.
All interested, are welcome to participate in one of the work-camps or contribute to CJCRO, SVIT Ukraine or Action Reconciliation Service for Peace.
It is hard work, but worth it.
Selma Meerbaum-
Thanks for your attention!
Photo: Willy Pragher, Landesarchiv Baden-Württemberg, Freiburg
Photo: Willy Pragher, Landesarchiv Baden-Württemberg, Freiburg
Full transcript