Re: [Cz-L] Revolution 8

From: Sylvia de Swaan <>
Date: Sun, 2 Feb 2014 12:50:04 -0500
Reply-To: Sylvia de Swaan <>

Hardy & all: things change

The first time I went back to Cz was in '96 ...a very different place
than it is today. I took the train from Bucharest accompanied by a
curator from the Romanian National Museum, who wanted to see Romania's
former territory. He was my "body guard" & translator. I had grant
money, so I paid for the trip. The border crossing was bit harrowing,
but was what I wanted to experience - since my project was about
"retracing routes" I didn't want to magically arrive by plane and
have a pre organized trip. It was an adventure to find a place to
stay, an adventure to change money & an adventure to make a phone call
& it seemed that just about all signs of former Jewish life had been
eradicated. We only stayed three days but it was very meaningful to me
to touch the ground of the place where I was born and the city my
mother spoke of for her entire life.

The second time I went back was in 2008 for the jubilee. I was on my
way to Ekaterinburg to participate in an exhibition and decided to
stop in on my way. I stayed 12 days & with the help of the ever
wonderful Zoya, rented an apartment. It was quite a different place
than twelve years earlier ....internet cafes, bankomats, plenty of
shops, plenty of restaurants and renting a room no longer had to be a
clandestine operation. But during the jubilee celebrations the litany
of the commemoration of the stages of history dating back to the
Ottoman Empire, Hapsburg Empire, Kingdom of Romania , Soviet Union &
Ukraine, seemed to have edited out the substantial contributions that
Jews made, and the devastating affect of the Nazi era. Through the
efforts of Mimi and a number of other list serve members a lot has
changed in that respect.

One of the very significant developments in the intervening years has
been the cemetery clean-up project ...not so much because it
necessarily will ever become a pristine place devoid of invasive
vegetation - but because it serves as a locus for multi national
groups of people to learn about Jewish history in touching the ground
and pulling the weeds. I was SO impressed & touched by the fourteen
member group aged 18-45 who came from Germany, Holland, Bulgaria,
Slovenia, Hungary, Ukraine, Belgium, Italy, France and japan - who
were so earnestly interested in Jewish history and the tragic effects
of prejudice & so on. I remember speaking with Myklos, the Hungarian,
who is very distressed about his country's veer towards the right &

The other very significant experience I had was accompanying
university level history majors who were assigned to interview older
people (the oldest was 99) in nearby villages (Nepolokivtsi and
Velikyi Kuchuriv) about their memory of the fate of their once Jewish
neighbors. They said that many were shot by Romanian/German troops,
others were killed by townspeople, who went with hatchets, hammer or
even with their bare hands to murder their once friendly neighbors -
the rest were deported to Transnistria and those who survived
emigrated as soon a they could after the war.

Which brings me back to hate speech - because we have seen parallel
episodes in our time in Bosnia, in Rwanda, where one group gets
demonized "the Tutsis are like cockroaches ranted the radio, the
Bosnians are blajh blah, die Juden sind unser umglück, ranted
Hitler....making it easy to stir up hatred towards the targeted group
& justify mistreatment

For which reason I see reasons to cheer the "revolutionary" Ukrainians
who at their best want a democratic country, not owned by oligarchs
and a corrupt government because it is under democracy that everyone
has a better chance at a good life .....

thank you for reading.....forgive this rant


On Sun, Feb 2, 2014 at 11:29 AM, HARDY BREIER <> wrote:
> "and in the negative comments from Hardy (who I have not met). "
> Mark, how does this fit into the context of the sentence ?
> Hardy
> ----- Original Message ----- From: "Mark Wiznitzer"
> <>
> To: "Sylvia de Swaan" <>
> Cc: "HARDY BREIER" <>; "Josefine Koch"
> <>; "cornel fleming" <>;
> "Miriam Taylor" <>; "Benjamin Grilj"
> <>; "Christian Herrmann" <>;
> Sent: Sunday, February 02, 2014 6:17 PM
> Subject: Re: [Cz-L] Revolution 8
> Sylvia -thank you for this post. My experiences in four shorter visits to
> Bukovina these past 4 years have been similar to what you describe, both
> with many decent Ukrainians I have met and in the negative comments from
> Hardy (who I have not met).
> Sent by iPhone
> On Feb 2, 2014, at 10:42 AM, Sylvia de Swaan <>
> wrote:
> Hardy, I don't think I can make you love me :) have been
> disdainful of everything I've ever posted here to my six week
> stay in CZ - I was very actively out there - got interviewed a couple
> of times for television and an article written about me and my work by
> one of my photo students....and got to know everything from arty types
> to street people...& everyone I encountered was kind and protective
> and helpful. When I asked people (in my almost non existent Ukrainian)
> where the synagogue or the Jewish cemetery, people often took my by
> the hand and walked me there. My landlady was amazing - (I rented an
> apartment) sometimes brought me food that her mother cooked,
> accompanied me to the municipal archive and to the hard to find Billa
> Street memorial & so on. ...which of course doesn't prove anything.
> But I'm a photographer and I'm not afraid of people and people feel
> that. So often I have found myself in cities where I don't know my way
> around and perhaps speak only a few words of the language...but so far
> (gott sei dank) have never been mugged & have had some pretty
> interesting adventures. I know it's a platitude, but to echo the words
> of Anne Frank, I believe, given a chance & when not stirred up by hate
> speech, "people are (mostly) good at heart"
> Sylvia
>> On Sun, Feb 2, 2014 at 9:18 AM, HARDY BREIER <> wrote:
>> Sylvia - can you make them love you ?
>> Hardy

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Received on 2014-02-02 11:55:34

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