Re: [Cz-L] Report on trip to Chernivtsi

From: <>
Date: Mon, 02 Jun 2008 15:41:25 -0400
To: flo heymann <>

Dear Florence,

Thank you for your report on the Jewish museum in Chernivtsi.
I had hoped that you would also tell us about the negotiations, you and
Marianne, Leo and Cornel had with the city authorities and others,
regarding the commemorative plaque for Traian Popovici.

Could you please tell us what the situation is?
Is there a specific city administration person, I need to contact?
Is Josef Zissels still involved?

MimiQuoting flo heymann <>:

> Report on trip to Chernivtsi
> Dear friends,
> This is a report on our trip to Chernivtsi to discuss the Jewish
> museum. Leo, Florence and Marianne arrived by air from Kiev and we
> want you all to know that the flight on Aerosvit from Kiev to
> Chernivtsi on the new Saab 340 plane was very pleasant and totally
> unproblematic. We arrived Tuesday May 27.
> A nice surprise as well, was the hotel Magnat Luks in the center of
> the city near the Ringplatz. We had large rooms with plasma TVs,
> large baths, even Jacuzzis; the hotel is moderate in size, centrally
> located, and we recommend it highly. Unfortunately there is no
> breakfast served but they do make good coffee. They also do not
> accept credit cards.
> Cornel joined us the first evening and we all went to Café Vienna to
> have dinner with Josef Zissels who spent the next day with us as
> well. We met with Natalya Shevchentko on Wednesday 10:30 -2; we had a
> translator, Uliana, and then another, Natasha. Joseph Zissels took
> us out to lunch in a lovely restaurant outside the city. We continued
> to meet after lunch until evening, also with Margit Bartfelt-Feller
> who was in Chernivtsi for her book presentation with her daughter,
> and with several researchers working on the museum. On Thursday,
> Josef and Nalalya prepared a tour of Jewish sites in Chernivtsi for
> us, including two synagogues (the new Chabad house that will include
> a school, a community center, a mikvah, etc. is being renovated now
> by Rabbi Menachem Glitzinshtein whom we met), the Jewish school and
> the inside of the old Grosse Schul (which is also being totally
> refurbished and cleaned up. This was very instructive for us because
> it allowed us to see the museum planners' vision of the future of
> Jewish life in Chernivtsi. We worked on the museum all of Wdnesday
> morning, Thursday afternoon and a good part of Friday. In addition
> to Josef Zissels and Natalya Shevchenko, we met several local
> historians who are in charge of some parts of the exhibition,
> including Oleg Surovtsev - a professor of History at Chernivtsi
> University, who is researching and designing the Holocaust display.
> The museum construction is well underway. The allotted space within
> the Jewish House is really quite small: two rooms, attractively
> repainted and refurbished, will contain twelve display cases
> (reflecting the 12 Jewish signs of the zodiac, related to the Jewish
> calendar). A frieze with pictures of synagogues and other buildings
> of the Bukowina will hang above the display cases, and a model of the
> Czernowitz temple will be in the center of one of the rooms.
> We had some very interesting and productive discussions with Natalya
> and we all learned a great deal. Her background in museology is
> impeccable and she has studied Czernowitz Jewry for many years. She
> was a central player in the creation of the memorial to the Jews
> killed near the Pruth by Einzatsgruppen in 1941. We concluded that
> the museum has two principal functions that explain the basic layout
> of the exhibit. Having understood these functions we understand
> better the choices that are being made. As we see it, the first
> function is to give a historical account of two hundred years of
> Jewish history in the entire Bukowina, with equal emphasis on urban
> and rural Jewish life. This means a presentation of the movement
> from the shtetl to the Stadt, and from religion to civic, cultural
> and political urban life. The second function is to support the
> present-day revival of Jewish life in the region. In this sense the
> museum is one of a number of new Jewish religious and pedagogical
> institutions that are emerging in this region of the Ukraine. For
> example, the Jewish school in Chernivtsi teaches Jewish history but
> not specifically the history of the region: the museum could fill in
> this gap. The intended audience for the museum consists of local
> Jews, as well as the local non-Jewish community, as well as tourists
> drawn to the city and to the 600th Anniversary celebrations.
> The design of the exhibition is limited by the materials that are
> available to the curator and to the local historians working on its
> physical implementation, and this is where our group comes in. A
> museum needs original objects and documents but they have very few on
> hand at this point. Each of these objects and images have to be
> precisely documented and authenticated. IF ANYONE IS WILLING TO
> DIFFERENCE IN THIS PROJECT. Scans are not sufficient to attract the
> attention of viewers and to give the museum the weight and importance
> it deserves. Especially important are objects that reflect everyday
> life, so that the distinctive civil culture of Czernowitz will be
> able to come alive. They are also very interested in Judaica: if
> anyone has objects to donate, especially objects that are
> characteristic of Czernowitz Jewry, please consider doing so.
> We spent the majority of our time on a few issues that seemed central
> to us and to which we felt we could contribute. First, we urged the
> museum planners to reconsider the balance between religious and
> secular life in Bukowina - which, at this point, is heavily weighted
> towards the religious - and, in their religious displays, to focus on
> local habits and practices, rather than generally applicable ones.
> Second, we also hoped that a somewhat greater emphasis would be given
> to the contribution of Jews and their central role in trade, business
> and economy. Our main discussion topic with Natalya and Oleg dealt
> with the wartime displays - the Russian year 40/41 and the Holocaust
> display. There is little original material on the Russian year -
> there are virtually no photos, nor documents and the display job is
> very difficult. We made some proposals about some types of documents
> that could be displayed: quotations from testimonies, for example, or
> portraits of individuals who were either deported by the Soviets or
> fled to the Soviet Union, as well as the report of the French
> cultural attaché in Chernovtsy who collected oral testimonies he
> wrote up immediately, etc. We also stressed that the Russian year
> should not receive equal attention as the Holocaust, but should be
> secondary in relative importance.
> The Holocaust display poses the greatest difficulties for the museum
> planners for a host of political, ideological and historical reasons.
> Besides the political reasons, the historical interpretation of this
> unique Holocaust story poses difficulties to Ukrainian historians,
> concerning the possibility of collaboration and bribes, the
> implication of Ukrainians and Romanians in the atrocities committed.
> We emphasized that despite these difficulties, this story is
> extremely important to tell, that it is indeed unique and that the
> story of rescue is inspiring and worthy of special attention.
> The display will focus on three periods: 1. the summer of 1941, the
> shootings by the Pruth, and the issue of various orders concerning
> Jews; 2. The formation of the ghetto, the deportations in 41 and 42,
> the issuing of authorizations to remain and the role of Popovici, and
> the dissolution of the ghetto; 3. Jewish life in Cernauti during
> the rest of the war years. There will not be displays on
> Transnistria, just some images of the deportations.
> We left happy that there would be a museum and with the hope that
> this is only a small beginning of a larger and more ambitious
> project. Although we don't agree with all the choices and emphases,
> we are confident that the historical display will be accurate and
> responsible. The materials we delivered are helpful but, as we said
> above, the museum needs originals.
> Marianne, Leo, Cornel, Florence

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Received on 2008-06-02 19:41:25

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