Pictures taken during the visit - click here
Videos taken during the visit (click link to view):
Words written by Pearl and Larry after the visit:
So glad to live in this country!!!Larry and I returned over a week ago and we shortly leave to visit our daughter, son in-law and the kids in Florida for the American Thanksgiving for 2 weeks. Larry is still putting his pics together from our memorable trip! A roller coaster of emotions for sure! Thank you all for your help in making this dream come true. Now I am driven to do something about the state of the Jewish Cemetery which lies in utter shambles desecrated with cattle defecation on what is left of the place! I am passionate about restoring at least the stones. Is it is conceivable to salvage what is left of those stones and erect a perpendicular monument in that cemetery? Who knows perhaps we can even gate the entire area which didn’t appear that large anymore so that the cows aren’t allowed in that area. Perhaps Zamira and Jackie you could ask Moishe if he thinks this is doable and would the money be used honestly. I have no trouble sending out a blog to all the Roszycer kids. Check out cjnews.com Oct.27,11 “Jewish Cemetery rededicated in Poland”.....I realize Ukraine is not Poland but who knows “Nes Gadol” can happen!!!
Wadey ...sadly no map of Roszycyce could we find. Much thanks to you, Sol, Marsha , Munia and Moshe Gruber as well for all your help in planning this trip. Pls pass on this info to any or all that you think might be onboard with this idea. I will see Ansell Gunn in Florida and discuss with him as well.
Pearl for Larry too
Ps Kudos to Bonnie and Vivien from Travel Network who did all the arranging for us in the Ukraine and provided us with first class guides and accommodations in our tour of Eastern Europe.
Larry and I had our fair share of herring, potatoes, borscht and vodka!!!!
To be very honest Pearl and I were apprehensive about visiting Rozyczce. We heard stories about the Ukrainians; don't trust them; they are anti-Semetic; they will take advantage of you.....
Besides which we knew we were going to a place where so many unimaginable things happened to family members.
Pearl knew, no matter what, she had to see this place where Sonia and Sol were raised and live their youth. So it was with mixed emotions we set out early this morning. It was very cold and rain was expected. Igor our guide of yesterday, a kind and intelligent person picked us up with a most capable driver. We found out that with the roads in such terrible condition we would need the best to travel the 250 km. to the village. It would take 3 1/2 hours.
On the way we learned about Galicia and the Oblesk of Volyn. Galicia more Austrian and Polish, Volyn more Russian. The largest but rather small city of Lutsk was the region's capital. It was 20 km from Rozyczce the district administration centre. We were fortunate that Moisha Grabarsky had given us the phone number of Bogden Chenchuck the former Mayor. Munia Werb wasn't taken with Bogden, but since little is known about the area he was our best bet. We are also thankful that Wadey Werb and Jacque RAJCHGOD provided us with pretty complete sketch map.
We arrived just before noon and Bogden a white haired man of about 64 met us at the sign of the town. He was most welcoming and wanted to be as helpful as possible. Whether he had any hidden feelings he led us to believe he was a friend to those who were part of his village and was a friend of the Jews. He was outspoken all afternoon with stories and information. His first concern was for Moishe and the others he met before. He then took us to the Memorial and the field where the Jews of the village and surrounding towns were lined up in a ditch and were shot. We are thankful that the wind was blowing and the cold numbed us. Our emotions ran wild as Bogden explained about the Memorial and his role in helping Moishe get it erected and the killing of 3700 Jews. We listened, attempted to keep a flame going on a Yahrzeit Candle. I said Kaddish and we moved on past the old Werb household which was no longer there as the home of Mirel's family were gone. In fact, most of the houses of that time had been destroyed.
Bogden then took us to Moishe's home. The only thing remaining was a public well which looked like it was still in service. We observed a number of old houses from the era and Bogden pointed out the location of Jewish homes and businesses all of which no longer were standing or had been put to other uses.
The sketch map was very helpful and as we headed for the old cemetery. We passed an area marked as a cattle market which Bogden pointed out was the Ghetto area for the Jews in the area in 1942. It looked like a suburban area with homes that were renovated. Shortly thereafter we arrived at the dirt road leading to the cemetery. Our first site was the fence but then we saw a herd of about 6 cows walking among the very few head stones that still existed. Bogden told us he was trying to keep the area as best he could but there was little he could do. He was reluctant to take us into the cemetery itself. Thanks to Sol Werb we knew there was an opening in the fence and upsetting as it was all of us went into the area. Unfortunately my Yiddish and Hebrew is not strong. Pearl and I could not identify any of the stones although we took pictures to bring back with us. Again we lit a candle - this time it stayed lit and I said Kaddish. Bogden then went on to tell us about how the brick yard in the valley below had undermined the cemetery and caused the headstones to be toppled. He then told us about the back and forth battle of the Germans and the Russians and how the Russians had protected themselves with the same headstones. All this was emotionally draining.
We left the area and went back to town and the central market which was busy. We passed over the Bickel - the bridge that Sol and his friends had jumped off into the Stir River. The wooden bridge had been replaced with a steel structure, but we could easily visual the boys enjoying their adventure. Anchel Gunn had told Pearl the store and household of the Melamed's was opposite the market 2 buildings on the left. However, the market itself and the surrounding stores had been rebuilt and we found no trace of the business even though we had a picture.
It was difficult to leave the town. We could not comprehend the atrocities committed here. The carnage that took place here and throughout Ukraine and Poland was unbelievable, but true. Munia Werb had told us the story of his boyhood friend, a Ukraine, who shared meals with the family. This boy became a man and was the chief of police in the area. It was due to his identifying and arresting all the Jewish people he had grown up with that they were captured and killed. What kind of humans do these things?
The afternoon ended with lunch. The Vodka helped kill the chill of the body and mind. We thanked Bogden who joined us for lunch. He was a great guide and thanks to Igor our guide we were able to learn as much as we did in such a short time. Bogden sends his regards and told us that he would be more than happy to meet and help the families of the people who lived in Rozyczce to make their visit meaningful.
We slept much of the way back and are slowly getting ready for an evening of contemplation.
Tomorrow we leave L'Viv for Krakow.