A visit to Buchach
by Thomas F. Weiss
The following describes a trip to Europe my wife, Aurice, and I took in which we spent three days in Buchach. The purpose of this preamble is to put the side trip to Buchach in context and to introduce the people mentioned in the journal below. The trip was organized through ShtetlSchleppers of JewishGen with special thanks to Joanna Fletcher, who made the arrangements, and to Joyce Field, who led the group tour in Lviv. I kept a detailed journal of the trip and the section below represents the journal for the days we were in Buchach.
The trip began on Tuesday, September 5, 2000 when Aurice and I flew to Vienna, the city in which my mother (Erna Frenkel) and my uncle (Walter Frenkel) were born and in which my maternal grandparents (Max and Clothilde Frenkel) were married and had lived. We visited all the addresses where my grandparents lived as their fortunes improved after moving to Vienna from Galicia. My grandmother died before the Anschluss, but my grandfather was not so fortunate. We visited the sites to which he moved after his apartment building was Aryanized and before he was deported to Riga from which he never returned.
On Saturday, September 9, we took the train from Vienna to Krakow. We toured Krakow and visited both Auschwitz and Birkenau where at least 10 of my family members met their fate. We joined a number of people from JewishGen in Krakow, including Joanna Fletcher, Susan King, and Joyce Field. On Thursday, September 14, the group was expanded to include Mike Kalt (see Mike's sites for photographs of Lviv and Stryj) and Steve Rockower. Alex Dunai drove the group to Lviv where we arrived on Thursday evening. There the group was joined by Robin O'Neil. With Alex acting as guide, we toured Lviv on Friday and Saturday. On Sunday the group split up. Alex, Aurice, and I drove directly to Buchach to see that town and to examine the Jewish cemetery. Much of Monday was spend cleaning stones and photographing them. On Tuesday and on Wednesday, the three of us visited Rozhnyatov and activities of those two days are related elsewhere. We spent Sunday through Tuesday night in Ivano-Frankivsk at the Auscoprot Hotel formerly called the Roxolana Hotel. On Wednesday, we returned to Lviv for the farewell banquet. On Thursday we returned to Buchach to work on photographing more of the cemetery and returned at night to Lviv. On Friday, September 22 we flew to Warsaw and we returned to Boston on Monday, September 25. Throughout the trip in Lviv and the small towns, Alex Dunai acted as our guide, translator, and friend.
On the trip to Buchach I had available aerial photographs as well as copies of pictures of the town from the Yizkor book. My intention was to try to find and to photograph the sites seen in the photographs. I also intended to photograph as many gravestones as possible in the Jewish cemetery.
N.B. Some of the links are marked with "still" and "video" in parentheses. Clicking on "still" will bring up a still photograph and clicking on "video" will bring up a brief video clip . However, even these brief video clips take a long time to download --- several minutes with a cable modem and who knows how long with a phone line connection to the internet. The size of the video file is indicated in square brackets. Knowledge of the file transfer rate for a connection to the web allows estimation of the time taken to download the video. In order to view the videos, your web browser must have a video viewer. The videos require Quick Time reader available free of charge. Just download the software and install it in your computer. With QuickTime 4 installed, the videos appear in a window with controls that resembles a VCR control panel with play, pause, stop, and single frame controls.
Sunday, September 17, 2000
We were awakened at 5:30am by a wake-up call. We had the usual delicious breakfast in the Grand Hotel. Joyce joined us and eventually so did Robin. Robin handed me a manuscript of a translation of a thesis on Odilo Globocnik (4/21/1904-5/31/1945). Globocnik was a central figure in the "final solution." Robin wants the manuscript back in a day or so.
By 8:40am we were off to Buchach. Unfortunately, it was pouring all the way. Along the way, we saw livestock which we had not seen much either in Poland or Ukraine, previously. One curious thing is to see a single figure, a man or a woman, with a single or two or three cows (still and video [17MB]) just walking along. It is as if they are walking their cow rather than their dog.
The roads were terrible --- full of potholes and dirt sections. There are virtually no signs and of course the existing signs are in Cyrillic. It would be hopeless to try to navigate this on our own. Alex is fabulous --- he is unflappable and usually smiling and positive. He is also happy to do anything we wish. We decided to take a pit stop and get a cup of coffee in Ternopil. We stopped at 11am and went into a restaurant that looked nice and clean. Unfortunately, it was too early for them. They were not serving yet even though it was near noon. They had menus in this place in English. Too bad we could not eat there, they had a caviar sandwich. We did use their bathroom which was curious. You went in and then up 4 steps to get to the toilet. It was kind of a throne. But, it was nice and clean. Alex went out in the pouring rain to find another restaurant, but came back unsuccessful.
We drove on through the rain and we were beginning to feel a bit glum about trying to take pictures in a cemetery. We stopped occasionally to take a picture of a town sign (still 1, still 2, still 3) in Cyrillic. The road was awful, geese were everywhere on the road. Occasional people leading cows were here and there. Eventually, we got to Buchach. What a shock. It is a dilapidated town; nothing like the elegant town seen in pictures taken before 1940. We saw the town hall which had been a quite elegant building and was now pretty bad. We drove to the cemetery --- what a mess. Trash strewn around, but lots and lots of gravestones predominantly in Hebrew letters. Occasionally, names were also written in Latin letters on some stones. It will be challenging to photograph them all but it is feasible but not in this rain. We talked to a woman who lived across the street from the cemetery. We had a tip from Israel Pickholtz as follows: "The first Frankel grave we found was right next to where we parked, near the top of the hill and the name was Gusta Frankel. Also, while she [Buzy Hahn] was in the car (while I was being rained on), she [Buzy Hahn] was approached by a man who lived across the street who inquired what we were looking for. When she mentioned that her grandparents were Frankel from Skalat, he said that his mother had worked for a Frankel who had a shoe store. So when you go there, you can check this out. If you go with Alex Dunai, remind him that it's the house next to the one where Buzy Hahn watched the chicken climb the ladder. He'll know what you mean." So Alex tried to find the house. But, this woman said that her son who had been home was now living in New York City and that she was moving to New Jersey next year. She thought her husband had talked to Israel but he was a bus driver and was working. She was pleasant and late in our conversation I discovered she spoke German which made conversation more direct although her German was not very good. Her husband will be back tomorrow. We may return. One bothersome thing is that we did not find a stone for Gusta Frankel where Alex assumed it must have been last June. We did find a bunch of broken stones that Alex could not remember as having been there. So there is a bit of mystery. It also points out the necessity for preserving the stones somehow and soon.
We then tried to find Gisella Fischer who is one of two Jews in town that we know of and the only one who was in Buchach during the war. We had her address, l3-4 Budenogo. Tel. 283-220. Alex asked several people where this street was and they did not know. Finally, someone did know and directed us there. It turned out the street name has changed to Stusa. We drove up there and found the place. Alex went in to find her. While he was there I noted that the apartment building was on a hill and that there was a great view (still 1 and still 2) of Buchach from across the street. I took a couple of shots even in the rain. Pretty soon, Alex came running out and said, "she is there and she is in pretty good shape." So he moved the car into a parking area on the side of the dilapidated house. Chickens were running around the property and some tough looking Ukrainian men were lurking about. I was so excited that I grabbed my video camera and was about to bolt out when Alex reminded me to take all my equipment which I did. There was mud all around and the place was a mess. When we got to the door, we were greeted by a little old, wrinkled lady who welcomed us in. We interviewed her extensively and video taped the whole thing. She speaks no English or German so everything was done through Alex acting as interpreter. She reported that she was born in Moscow and that her father was Jewish and her mother was Russian and not Jewish. She came to Buchach in 1924. She spent the war in Buchach. During the war her father and two cousins were
hidden in the woods by a Polish neighbor who brought them food. A Ukrainian neighbor became jealous of the money being made by his Polish neighbor and turned them in. Her father was shipped to another town and she learned that he was shot. Her mother convinced the Germans that they were not Jewish.
She remembered that there were many Frankels/Frenkels in town. There was a Frenkel family in town that owned a general store that sold thread, notebooks, etc. She could remember no first names. This family was middle class. She did not know the family well. She just shopped in the store.
She remembered the Pohorille family and remembers the house where they lived near the town hall where they also had a store that sold candies. She said it was a large family. She could not be more specific. We tried several names on our list of family surnames of the Suchostav Regional Research Group (SRRG) members and she recognized names but could not remember anything specific. She remembered Rosenblum. However, we learned that her father's name was Leon Engelberg and her father had a cousin with the same name. This is the name of one of the people in SRRG. We will need to get in touch with them. However, she claims that none of her relatives survived. We asked her about Etunia Bauer and she remembered the Bauer name but that is all.
We asked her about the memorial that was put up by survivors and she said she remembers that but that it is no longer there. She believes that local people may have taken it away. I asked Alex if we could do something for her and he asked her. She said she was fine and did not need anything. While she was not looking, I left 20 Hryvnia on her dresser. At this point she was starting to look tired so we decided to go. Perhaps we will come back. When we got outside, the weather was clearing somewhat.
We were all tired, hungry, and muddy and decided to head to the hotel. Alex needed to return by 5pm to meet with Joyce and Rabbi Kolesnik. We drove to Ivano-Frankivsk which Alex referred to by its name under the Austro-Hungarian Empire --- Stanislau. He prefers what he calls the "original name." That is the name that older people use. Young people may not know it. The drive through the countryside was nicer. Perhaps it was because the sun came out for the first time or maybe this route went through a nicer part of the country. Stanislau looked like an old town and we drove to the hotel called The Auscoprut Hotel (Grunvaldska Str. 7/9; Ivano-Frankivsk, Ukraine; phone 380-3422-25162; fax: 380-3422-31402). The room was not beautiful but adequate. The bathroom was clean. Alex saw to it that we were settled in and then went off to find Joyce. The Swiss Army knife was useful for removing mud from the sneakers using the Phillips head screw driver. This knife has been extremely useful and several of its features have been used on the trip.
We went into the dining room at 6pm to have dinner. There was a party of about 6 Ukrainian business men at a neighboring table having drinks and snacks it looked like. Pretty soon we learned that the waiter spoke very little English. Because the menu was bilingual it was relatively easy to order by pointing. I ordered sturgeon with red caviar. Aurice ordered fried sturgeon and the waiter nodded his head "no," so she ordered the sturgeon with red caviar. It turned out to be fried sturgeon with a bit of red caviar. So there must have been some kind of confusion about the fried sturgeon. We had boiled potatoes with dill. The dish came with pickles, some red peppers and a bit of tomato. The meal was fine. I had an espresso coffee which was quite nice. There is no decaf in Ukraine so I have been drinking it straight up with no bad effects.
Joyce dropped in on us to fill us in on her adventures for the day. They had been meeting with the Rabbi and brought him some gifts including a copy of the Yizkor book and its translation. He was apparently quite moved. He has lists of holocaust victims that he will make available to Joyce. Robin showed up to join us. We discussed the issue of how to preserve the Jewish cemeteries. I felt that the only way was to photograph the stones and put them on the internet; the physical preservation seemed impossible to me. Robin and Aurice and I all agreed on that, but Joyce was holding out for cleaning up the cemeteries, putting a fence around them, and paying for upkeep. I said that it would be hard for me to do the entire Buchach cemetery, but that I would come back and shoot all the stones. Robin offered to return with me and to help out. The man is amazing.
We went to our room at around 9pm. I worked on the journal a bit and starting charging all the equipment for tomorrow. I also found the section of video tape on the Mina Rosner tape that shows Gisella Fischer with Mina Rosner. She did not recall this visit but there it is on the tape. If we have a chance we will go back to show it to her. I then started to read the material on Globocnik. Pretty interesting stuff.
Monday, September 18, 2000
I was up at 5am and finished the journal for yesterday. It is still dark out. We got started early. The drive from Ivano-Frankivsk to Buchach was much nicer on this sunny day.
Alex talked a bit about his military service and how rough it was. He said that the older soldiers picked on the younger ones to do chores for them. It was necessary to prove your manhood. Fortunately, he had learned judo and karate and had learned to protect himself. Once he established that he was a tough guy, he had no more trouble. He looks like he can take care of himself.
He told us about the hotel in Ivano-Frankivsk which was originally called the Roxolana after a woman who was a national heroine. Her real name was Nastia Rysovska and she was taken to Turkey as a slave in the 16th century. She was a beautiful woman and became the wife of a Turkish sultan. She was quite influential with her husband and during her life there were no Turkish or Tartar raids on Ukraine. She is a very well known figure and many places and businesses are named after her. The hotel was the best for party functionaries during the Soviet times. The hotel was taken over by a conglomerate of Austrian, Russian, and Ukrainian groups and renamed the Auscoprut.
We parked in Buchach near the center of town and walked around a bit. We took pictures of the Ratusz, Town Hall (still and video [20MB]). What a disaster it is. I have seen pictures of this elegant building taken before WWII and it is sad to see it in such poor repair. It is now boarded up and closed.
We walked over to the new city hall near where there was a large placard which contained a brief history of Buchach. It said, "This territory was settled in the 3rd century before Christ and there were old settlements in this area. The first written record of the town was in 1260. It belonged to the Galician Volyhnian Kingdom until the middle of the 14th century. Danielo Halisky became Duke and then King of that Kingdom. At the end of the 14th century Buchach was invaded by Polish landlords. In 1515 the city received self-government. Since 1558 there were big markets twice a year and every week on Thursday there were also small markets. In 1672 the town was occupied by the Turkish army and on October 18 a peace agreement was signed with Turkey according to which all Podolia has become part of the Turkish state. The border was along the Strypa River and divided the town into two parts --- the eastern Turkish and the western Polish parts. In November 1673, the peace treaty broke down and Buchach became Polish again. In 1772, after the first partition of Poland, Buchach became part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.
In the 17th century, the Basilian Monastery was founded. In 1754 a general Latin school was established. In 1784 a 3-grade public school was established which was reorganized into a 5-grade school in 1804. Since 1820 it has become a 6-grade gymnasium. Famous Ukrainian politicians, writers, poets, artists, and others studied at this school. According to the Schonbrun peace agreement, from 1809 to 1815 the town belonged to Russia. The first railroad went through the town in 1884. In November of 1918, after the Austro-Hungarian Empire collapsed, Buchach became part of the Western Ukrainian People's Republic which existed for only a short time. In July 1919 the city was occupied by Polish troops. A year later on August 10, 1920 the Red Army took the town. On September 15, 1920 Polish troops again took Buchach. On September 18, 1939 the Red Army occupied the city and Buchach became part of the Ukrainian Soviet Republic which existed until August 24, 1991. On July 7, 1941 Buchach was occupied by Nazi troops and was liberated on July 21, 1944."
We walked across the bridge over the Strypa river. We drove up a hill on the Fedor looking for the monument of the mass grave. We wound up in the Christian cemetery at the top of the hill which adjoins a soccer field. Alex talked to the soccer coach who tried to help us locate the monument. We went to the gymnasium which was in session. Lots of Ukrainian kids going in and out. The building had signs on it for 1895 and1898. Thus, it is possible that Max Frenkel attended this school.
We went looking for Luba Lipkina and parked in a small market opposite her house and Alex went in to try to find her. Aurice and I hung out in the market. I took video. There were lots of old women in babushkas. Funny, Alex had told us that Americans use the term babushka for the scarf older women wear, but in Ukrainian the term refers to grandmother and describes the woman who wears the scarf rather than the scarf.
Alex located Luba Lipkina and determined that she would see us. So we did an interview with her. She lives in a house that is a slum and in an apartment that is atrocious. She is 81 and has not practiced medicine since 1992. Her birthday was yesterday and we sang happy birthday to her. She remembers Mina Rosner's trip and the video taping. She arrived in 1944 and there were a few Jewish survivors who were on their way out of town. Luba is Jewish and came to Buchach September 4, 1944. She finished her medical degree and was sent to Buchach. The past Spring there was delegation from Israel that visited the town including a person who survived the war in Buchach named David Ashkenasy who is a retired army officer and lives in Slavutya. There were two mass graves in town. One on the Fedor in the forest. A monk from the Monastery knows where the mass grave and monument are located. There is a second site near the Jewish cemetery but the monument is not there. The site is covered with garbage. The group looked for this second site but did not find it. She said that there were several old Ukrainians who knew Jewish families in town but the ones she knew have died. At one point she asked when Yom Kippur was and I said I did not know. She said, oh, you are a Jew like I am (video [38MB]). She had a good sense of humor (video [44MB]) and it was interesting to talk with her.
We went to the bathroom in the Pizza parlor; it is supposed to be the only place with indoor plumbing in Buchach that is accessible to tourists. It was pretty gross.
We headed for the cemetery. We headed northwest, up the hill on Torhova Street to the cemetery which is on top of the hill overlooking the town on all sides. The view from the cemetery into the town is quite nice (still1, still 2). I walked around taking video [46MB] to get an overview of the cemetery. Stones are every which way and lying down (still 1 and still 2). The whole hill is covered with gravestones and some gravestones are amongst heavy vegetation and even among trees and large bushes. Some gravestones are found on the slope heading down the hill. Some of the names on gravestones that I saw as I walked along were Feige Gottfried, Teich, Israel Singer, Isaac Loebl, Friedlander, Izrael Langberg, Goldberg, Rosa Werner, Raisa Drucker, Samuel Tauber, Wexler, Werner, Alte Gelber, Rosa Splank, Sigmund Genzer, Mendel Pines. I eventually found the gravestone for Gusta Frankel. Aurice was eating her lunch of crackers and water while I was doing the videotaping.
While I was walking around taking video, a fellow from across the street came over to see us. It was the husband of the woman we had met yesterday. His name is Peter Mashtalir. He spoke a bit of German. In 1940 the Frenkel family still lived in Buchach. His mother worked for the Frenkel family in a shoe store. He knows where the store is. He had a picture of Frenkel standing in front of the store, but he does not know where the picture is located. He remembers no first names. The Frenkel he knew was of average height and was about 28-30 years old in 1940. Peter did not know if the Frenkels had children. His mother was house maid in the house for 5 years but quit when she got married and had her own children. He says that there was a pile of pieces of gravestones on the edge of the cemetery that were not there previously. Alex also did not remember these stones from previous trips. But, there was no explanation for how these stones got here. We exchanged contact information and he said he would try to find the picture for me.
Then we got busy with our primary task which was to take digital pictures of individual gravestones. We soon discovered that a little work with the brushes we bought made the stones more readable. So we went to work. I took pictures with the Olympus digital camera, Aurice took data, Alex read the GPS receiver at each stone and helped clear away brush with an axe. We all scrubbed the stones to make them more readable. At one point, a Ukrainian fellow came over to ask if we wanted help. He said he had a friend who could also help. So we asked them to help. The first guy was pretty ineffective but the second one was a very good worker and seemed to relish the job. He brought a wire brush and the two of them worked on the stones and then we came along and shot pictures, took readings, and took data. This sped up the process considerably.
We took 128 pictures of gravestones, front and back and sometimes some extra shots if there was some attractive decoration on the stone. At some point Alex asked the two men if they knew where the mass graves were and where the monuments were. One of the men, Vladimir Boychuk, was a good worker and said he knew where the monument was and could take us to it. So we decided to pay the two of them $5 each for the effort and to take Vladimir with us to show us where the mass grave was located. While we continued to work, Vladimir went home and changed and came back.
We drove back over to the Fedor and he directed us along a path until the car was blocked from proceeding further by a boulder in the path. So we got out and walked a bit. Vladimir went ahead to find the spot. He had told us that he worked for a monument factory and had worked on the very monument that he was trying to find now. That is why he knew where it was. We waited for him in a clearing in the woods. There were pits and mounds in the area and one could only wonder if these were the sites of mass graves. It was a perfect location for a mass murder --- secluded from the town but not too far from the town. We know from reports of survivors, that the sound of gunfire could be heard all day during aktions. Using the GPS receiver, we took a position reading in this region as 49o3.36'N, longitude 25o24.69'E at an elevation of 1130 feet. Vladimir was gone for a long time and we began to wonder if he would return. After at least 30 minutes he came back and said he had gotten lost in the woods but eventually had found the memorial and the mass grave. So we walked behind him for 1/4 to 1/2 mile at our own pace; Vladimir walks real fast. We got off the path and headed into the woods at the location whose coordinates are: latitude 49o3.26'N, longitude 25o25.01'E. We walked through the woods and found the monument which commemorates the murder of 450 Jews on this spot. The monument says, "Here rest 450 people killed by the German murderers on the 27th of July [or August] 1941." We were not able to read the bottom inscription. There was a small sign near the monument as well. There are several pits in the area. The monument would be impossible to find without someone like Vladimir who happened to have lived near the Fedor and was familiar with it. The coordinates of the monument are: latitude 49o3.3'N, longitude 25o25.12'E, elevation 1022 feet. This was clearly not the site of the aktions which typically resulted in the shooting of a few thousand people in a 12 hour period from dusk to dawn. So there is another site which we have not yet found. The monument is also not the same as the monument that was put up by survivors after the war and that is shown in the Yizkor Book for Buchach.
We walked back to the car and learned that Vladimir is unemployed. He has a wife and two sons --- 15 and 21 years old. He goes to work in Poland and Germany --- wherever he can find work. As we were walking, Vladimir pointed to the left and he said that there is a large mass grave on the side of the hill but there is no monument. That grave is in a large wooded area that seems relatively inaccessible. Vladimir says he lived near here and his parents told him about this site. Alex asked Vladimir if he had heard of the Frenkel family and he had not.
We gave Vladimir a lift back to town. During the ride, I gave Vladimir $20 for helping us find the monument. He had tears in his eyes. It was obviously a huge amount of money for him.
We went back to town to find the location of the Frankel shoe store which is now a bar and we took pictures of it. The locals must have been puzzled why this crazy American was taking picture of this grubby looking bar.
We drove back to Ivano-Frankivsk dead tired but with lots of data. I took some video of an old lady walking 3 cows just to document this activity. I also took some video of the trip back.
When I got back to Ivano-Frankivsk, I needed to recharge all my rechargeable batteries since I had used everything today. Batteries are a major problem in this endeavor. It is too bad that the surge suppressor which is also has 3 inputs and one output does not work. The plan had been to charge three sets of batteries at once over night. But, when the surge suppressor developed a short, I can only recharge one set of batteries at a time. So I set one bunch of batteries for the digital camera to be charged during dinner.
For dinner, Alex took the whole group to a restaurant that he liked. He asked them about how long it would take to be served and they assured him that it would not take long. Well, it took forever. We waited over 1 1/2 hours to be served and the whole meal took over 3 hours. The food was not bad but the service was terrible. I had ordered a caviar sandwich as an appetizer which they forgot to bring. I was willing to forget about it but Alex insisted that I get what I had ordered. The sandwich eventually arrived and was quite good. Throughout the meal, loud American music was blaring over the loud speaker. We got home quite late exhausted. Alex was embarrassed by the whole evening but told us that this type of problem is endemic to restaurants in Ukraine.
I charged another set of batteries for the Olympus camera and went to bed.
Thursday, September 21, 2000
I was up at 5am and made a list of what I wanted to accomplish in Buchach today --- yes, I am going to return to Buchach. Aurice has not decided whether she will go or not. I have several objectives. I think I missed a few pictures at the beginning of our picture taking. I want to get those. Some stones had been cleaned but not photographed so I want to photograph those. Then I want to do what I did in Rozhnyatov and take pictures of as many legible stones as possible. Finally, I want to locate key landmarks on aerial photographs of Buchach.
I worked on the journal for yesterday. I still have not done the journal for Tuesday. I just have an outline thus far. Then I compared the data sheet Aurice had made on the first day in the Buchach cemetery to the pictures I had in the computer. I found 4 pictures were missing out of 132. Since the data sheets were pretty clear, I marked the missing photographs on the sheet. We will photograph those first.
I awakened Aurice and we got ready for the day. I told her what I would like to do today and told her I needed her help so she decided to come along. Unfortunately, during the clean up in the morning, Aurice was trying to pull back the window drapes to let the sunlight in and knocked the digital camcorder, which was being charged, off the table and it clunked on the floor. I picked it up and it did not work. I fiddled with it for a while and it looked like it was dead in every mode. Then I pulled the charging lead out of the camera and tried again and it seemed to work. If the charger was plugged into the camera, it would stop working. So the charger has a break or short in it and keeps the camera from working. So I can use the camera to record video but can no longer charge the batteries. Since between the two batteries I have the possibility of taking 3 hours of video, I think we will be fine. I just have to be careful with shooting video. I want to save the video for Warsaw and Treblinka.
We went down for another delicious Grand Hotel breakfast. The group was there in the dining room and saying goodbye to each other. Robin sat down to talk with us. He said he was a bit taken with the story of Alena and Karolina (my grandmother) at the railroad station. He asked if he could use it in his thesis and his writings. I promised to send him more particulars via email, but he took some notes like a good Scotland Yard operator. He promised to cull his file on Buchach and send me material. I promised to send him what I had.
Bob and Ann came down for breakfast. They are taking a ride to Krakow this morning. Bob brought down some maps of Galicia that he had bought in Camden Market in London. They were great and both Robin and I were interested in getting them. He promised us copies. Bob and Ann will be in Boston October 11 and will be in touch with us. We will exchange materials then. He will bring his information on Frankels in Buchach, his video tapes, and his maps. We said our goodbyes to both Robin, Bob and Ann. Bob mentioned that his translator, Svetlana, knew of a second Jewish cemetery in Buchach. It had few stones since a road had been built through it, but the stones were quite old. I later talked to Svetlana and she repeated this information. She said she knew where it was.
Alex returned from the airport and said things had been a bit crazy there. By 10:05am we were in Alex's car bound for Buchach. It was a partly cloudy morning with lots of sun and the countryside looked beautiful. Lots of wagons pulled by horses were out, as were the usual groups of people watching or walking their cows. The countryside in the Peremyshlany region was especially pretty. The colors of trees were definitely fall colors --- it was very nice.
Alex suggested that we stop in Rohatin. We took a picture of the sign coming into town, drove on and parked near the town square. Alex and I got out; Alex smoked and I exercised my camera. The square has a gigantic stature of Roxolana. I took pictures of it and of several churches. The buildings around the square had formerly been stores of Jewish people. They have been restored and were painted with pastel colors. They looked very attractive. Rohatin looked very nice. Roads were under repair, people were well dressed, and bustling about. There was a procession up to the church. The town was alive and seemed happy. It was a stark contrast to Buchach. Alex found a cafe that he said had a restroom but the place was closed. Alex got out and went into a neighboring store for a few minutes and emerged with someone who opened up the cafe. Curiously, there were patrons inside and we went in amid stares and used the facilities. They were pretty crude and this one did not flush. Oh well, this one was a lot better than the one in Rozhnyatov, a word that I am learning to pronounce properly.
We went on and reached Stanislau 12:30pm and were at the Buchach cemetery at 1:45pm. The sun was shining. The plans were for Aurice and I to work in the cemetery and Alex's task was to locate key landmarks on the aerial photographs. He had available a modern map contained in a booklet we had bought in Buchach as well as views of the town from the cemetery. Aurice and I first retook pictures I had missed on our first photographic venture into the Buchach cemetery, we then took pictures of the stones that had been cleaned but not photographed. Then we completed taking pictures of all the stones in the section near the road at the top of the hill. When that was done, we took a picture of as many stones as possible that had Latin inscriptions. We noticed clear signs of bullet marks on some of the stones. Time ran out at 4:15pm when we needed to return to Lviv. We had taken about 150 pictures.
While that was going on, Alex was trying to locate landmarks on the aerial maps of Buchach. In his usual style, he asked the help of people who were walking by on the hill. Pretty soon he had a crowd of 5 other people around him and they were hotly debating what was what. This went on for more than an hour and the villagers really got into it. Vladimir was among the group for a while. Alex feels certain that he has located the cemetery, the town hall, as well as several other landmarks on the aerial photographs. I am convinced he is right. He said that some of the group members were helpful. He paid them 7 hryvnias for their efforts. [Later after we returned to the US, Etunia Bauer Katz looked over the aerial photographs and located a large number of sites so that there is now a fairly detailed aerial photograph that is annotated with the sites named.]
A few other issues came up in the course of all this. First, one young woman claimed that there was a 19th century Jewish cemetery on a hill that adjoined the hill on which the present cemetery was located. This bears further investigation. Then someone said that there were remnants of a monument marking a mass grave further down the hill on which the present cemetery is located. This also bears further investigation. Alex said that when he goes to Buchach with other clients he may be able to look into this matter.
We left at 4:15pm and drove once again through the lovely Ukrainian countryside. It was nice. The reason we needed to leave so early is that Alex does not like to drive at night when visibility of bikers, carts, cows, etc. is poor.
We got straightened out on sugar beets. I had heard that expression for years and thought they extracted sugar from ordinary red beets. Well sugar beets are white roots that look like parsnips except thicker at the tops. We had seen these things lying about here and there. They are apparently a major crop here. In fact the sugar looks different; it is slightly yellowish. Alex says you need less sugar beet sugar in your coffee than you need cane sugar; sugar beet sugar is sweeter.
We arrived in Lviv at 7:30pm which was around dusk. We met with Alex to have dinner at 7:50pm. Alex wanted us to go to Amadeus, a restaurant not far from the hotel. We walked over there and it proved to be a small, charming place, but filled. Alex inquired and determined that part of one party was about to depart. So they rearranged the tables for us and we were seated. The waitress was extremely nice and it showed through the language barrier. The place was cute --- lots of pictures on the wall. Several were of Emperor Franz Joseph. The background music was all American music --- something we have encountered everywhere in Ukraine --- except this fit with our generation. There was a lot of Nat King Cole singing old classics, and there was Louis Prima's lead singer and wife, Keely Smith. Alex announced that this was his favorite music. They served a delicious selection of garlic bread with the meal. I ordered grilled sturgeon and mashed potatoes with horseradish. It was delicious --- the best cooked sturgeon I have had. Aurice had roast pork with garlic and enjoyed it. The three of us shared 2 chocolate cakes and Alex and I had coffee. During the meal an urchin, looking appropriately sad, showed up in the restaurant with a bunch of roses. The owner of the restaurant picked him up by the scruff of the neck and threw him out. After a while he appeared outside the door looking forlorn, but did not enter. We commented on this with Alex who said that unfortunately the money the child earned would likely go for vodka for the parents.
I was treating for dinner, but they would not take my credit card. The waitress said their credit card machine was broken. Alex complained that they should not have sign with VISA on in the window if they did not accept credit cards. In any case, I gave them all the Ukrainian money I had and borrowed the rest from Alex. We headed back to the hotel and to bed. We were both wiped.
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Last updated 03/02/17 by ELR
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