05 January 2017

Alef-Beys • Aleph-Beis • Alphabet


YIVO Encyclopedia: "Eliezer Shteynbarg (1880–1932), Yiddish writer and educator. Born in Lipkany, Bessarabia, Eliezer Shteynbarg (originally Shteynberg) received a traditional Jewish education but independently mastered German and Russian classics. Like his cousin Yehudah Steinberg (Shteynberg; a pioneer of modern Hebrew education), Eliezer directed a private, secular school, with Hebrew as the language of instruction. From 1919 on, he lived in Czernowitz (Chernivtsi) where he ran, among other things, a Yiddish children’s theater. As the most distinguished figure in the Tshernovitser Yidisher Shulfareyn (Czernowitz Association of Jewish Schools) and in the Jewish Cultural Association of Romania (founded in 1921), Shteynbarg played a leading role in the cultural life of Romanian Jews. He lived in Brazil from 1928 to 1930, and then returned to Czernowitz. At a very young age, Shteynbarg had written children’s stories and plays in Yiddish for the students in the school he directed, as well as fables for adults. The children’s plays were inspired by purim-shpils and folk legends. In these stories, the author’s rich imagination, combined with his attention to folkloric motifs, yielded a free and poetic style. Shteynbarg also developed original teaching methods in which old heder traditions were blended with modern instructional principles. These techniques are reflected, for example, in his two textbooks, Alef-beys (Yiddish) and Alfon (Hebrew), both published in Czernowitz in 1921."

Courtesy: Center for Jewish History (Book), Miriam & Yosef Yagur (Artwork)

01 December 2016

Transnistria War Criminal Trials by Dr. Andrei Muraru


Andrei Muraru: "The abominable crimes and massacres occurred under Antonescu’s regime (1940-1944) in Romania led to the disappearance of a significant part of the Jewish community. These crimes took place in the territories incorporated in the Romanian state or under its administration: Bessarabia, Bukovina and Transnistria. The deportation and extermination were enforced by the Romanian authorities, who were responsible for the disappearance of 350,000 Romanian Jews during the Holocaust. For these crimes, the war criminal trials found very few guilty individuals. One of the causes for this, besides the political and legal ones, was the lack of evidence, subsequently acknowledged by the public accusers. Moreover, the failure of the judicial process was confirmed by the Soviet authorities, but also by the former Romanian public accusers. The reasons for that were diverse (interventions, at the highest level, for the release of the arrested Army heads and magistrates, including through the Soviet Generals’ intervention; the unjustified acquittals; the organizational deficiencies; the defective strategy of arresting only the major perpetrators and instigators; the Soviets’ indifference towards the requirements related to the witnesses and documents from the Soviet territories); the assessments are that over 70% of the war criminals managed to get away unpunished." (P. 143/144)

Dr. Andrei Muraru

Additional Links:

Courtesy: New Europe College 

03 November 2016

Die Peschl • La Peschl

Otto Seidmann, born in Czernowitz in 1910, deceased in Bucharest in 1981. Seidmann’s texts stand in the tradition of Porubski and his Bukovinian Sketches, where he revives the Bukovinian common speach. This applies to Seidmann’s novel also, which addresses Jewish life in Czernowitz until 1940.
Menschen, Masken und Marotten [Men, Masks and Whims], Bucharest 1957
Miniaturen [Miniatures], Bucharest 1962
Die Peschl [La Peschl], Bucharest 1969

07 October 2016

Czernowitz - Cernăuți - Černivci • What is to be remembered?


2011-2014 Research Project on Memory of Vanished Population Groups in today´s East-Central European Urban Environments, implemented by the Center for European Studies at Lund University and specialists in partner cities.

Project’s Outline: The Research Project Memory of Vanished Population Groups in today’s East-Central European Urban Environments. Memory Treatment and Urban Planning in L’viv, Chernivtsi, Chisinau and Wroclaw has been implemented in 2011-2014 by the Center for European Studies at Lund University together with local experts in the cities of interest.

This project explores the complex role, which the built environment plays in collective memory of 4 East-Central European cities: L’viv and Chernivtsi in Ukraine Chisinau in Moldova and Wroclaw in Poland, and how this memory functions . All 4 cities have been hit by genocide and expulsions during and after WWII, they all underwent changes of national boundaries and communist dictatorships, dissociated from the earlier national affiliation. Those political and ideological forces aimed to change the identity of the cities, to erase or reinterpret historical traces and urban cultural heritage. A reconciliation between expelled and settled population groups is a matter of recognition of the vanished population groups’ contribution to the history, cultural heritage and identity of the cities.

The project’s concern is how the old urban environments are being treated at the urban planning level and by the current city dwellers of L’viv, Chernivtsi, Chisinau and Wroclaw . The work included inventories of the built environment and its use before 1939, its treatment in urban planning and in memories of city dwellers (by current city population and local intellectuals). At the same time, it has been the project’s interest to collect and reflect on the knowledge and attitudes among the postwar city population on the vanished population groups and their built environment. The study covers the communist and post-communist era, ending with conclusions for future development.

In 2011-2014 research group from the Center for European Studies, Lund University, together with partners (specialists and experts from L’viv, Chernivtsi, Chisinau and Wroclaw) have carried out an extensive research, which included on-site inventories, study of written sources, museum and archival materials, surveys, interviews with city dwellers, local intellectuals and decision-makers. Data collection and its interpretation allowed to register built environment of vanished population groups once lived in all 4 cities; to understand how this environment (buildings, streets, squares, etc.) is being managed today and treated within city planning; to collect resident’s knowledge and memories on vanished population groups and environment they once lived in and to reflect on attitude of local elites to once multinational urban landscape and its current changes.

Courtesy: Memory of Vanished Populations

25 September 2016

Bericht aus dem Sanatorium Dr. Poras • Report from the Sanatorium Dr. Poras


Dr. Joseph Poras: Much mention is made of the beauty and healing powers of the air and water in and about the shtetl of Solca in the Bukovina. One of the most famous health sanatoriums was that of Dr. Hermann Poras built in Solca in 1876. Dr. Hermann Poras was born in Czernowitz (Chernivtsi, Ukraine) in 1835, and attended the University of Vienna Medical School receiving his degree December 1859. He became K. K. Imperial district physician of Sanitary Council No. 2. For the years 1870 - 1971 he was appointed from Czernowitz as the member of the State Parliment and then took up residence in Rădauți (Romania). He married Henrietta Weiss of Lvov and had five children. They lived in Rădauți, and summered in Solca, where he was owner, director of the Sanatorium. In 1872 he was appointed as a progressive member to  the Jewish Community Council of Rădauți and participated in the bitter battle with the Orthodox over control of the Great Synagogue (Gold's History of the Jews in the Bukowina). His son, Josef, took over management of the Sanatorium in 1899. Above is the face page of a book which was written by him detailing the treatments in his father's Sanatorium. The book goes into great detail about the different types of water and inhalation therapies used and a statistical analysis of their frequency and efficacy. Patients came from as far as Switzerland and Germany to seek treatment for rheumatism, gynecological, respiratory, digestive and locomotive ailments. The Sanatorium was advertised heavily in Jewish newspapers throughout the Austro-Hungarian Empire. "Guide Book though the Bukowina 1907" has a fine example of the text that was used at the time. In 1904, Dr. Josef Poras moved his family from Vienna to Czernowitz, which was a three hour trip to the Sanatorium. They resided there until WWI, and then moved back to Vienna, at which time he opened a private medical practice at Waehringerstrasse 18 and specialized in ear, nose and throat.

Solca Sanatorium, May 2006: Great grandson Dr. Joseph Poras pictured in front of building.

On April 28th, 2014 the legendary Dr. Poras Sanatorium in Solca was destroyed by fire. Dr. Joseph Poras wrote: "Thank you to those who wrote me expressing their sadness at the loss of the historical sanatorium in Solca. During its day, at the turn of the century, Dr. Poras Sanatorium was the magnet for upper class Jews to spend the summer months healing and schmoosing. Jews from all over the Hapsburg empire came to enjoy the healing powers of the water and air in this beautiful area of now Romania. Many a shidduch was made as family members paraded their teenagers on the long afternoon walks through the woods. The evenings were filled with food music, poetry and song when the guests relaxed after a day of spa treatments. As Edgar so aptly put it 'More and more, vestiges of the (Jewish) past are disappearing. What a pity!'Sincerely, Dr. Joseph Poras, great grandson of Dr. Hermann Poras b. Czernowitz 1835"

Courtesy: Dr. Joseph Poras

01 July 2016

Journey Through Darkness • Durch die Hölle • Itinéraire dans les ténèbres

Wollheim Memorial: Willy Berler was born in Czernowitz in the Bukovina region on April 11, 1918. His father was a merchant, and the family, which also included Willy’s older brother, led an upper-middle-class life. Willy, a member of Zionist youth organizations, made a trip to the British Mandate of Palestine in 1936. Starting in 1937, he attended an agricultural school there, but returned a year later, at his parents’ urging, to study chemistry in Liège, Belgium.

His parents survived the war in Romania, as they managed to bribe Romanian officials and live in hiding. When the German Wehrmacht invaded Belgium in 1940, Willy Berler and two Jewish friends fled to France and went to a refugee camp near Marseille. Lack of money led him to return in October 1940 to Liège, where he earned his living by teaching German to adults. He was arrested by the Gestapo on April 1, 1943, after one of his pupils denounced him, and put in a transit prison [SS Camp Fort Breendonk].

Mecheln-Auschwitz 1942-1944 - The Destruction of Jews and Gypsies from Belgium: Only a few miles away fom the SS Camp Fort Breendonk, the Dossin Barracks were used from 1942 until 1944 as a transit camp for Jews and gypsies from Belgium and the North of France, assembled here to set out on their journey of no return to Auschwitz. Leon Messing, was 15 years old and the youngest deportee from Bukovina on the date of departure of Transport 10 on 15 December 1942. The oldest deportee from Bukovina was Abraham Moses Reder was 76 years old on the date of deportation on Transport 11 of 26 September 1942. Just like my [Edgar Hauster's] uncle Maximilian Hauster, born on 26 November 1909 in Czernowitz, deported with  Transport 19 of 14 January 1943, neither would return in 1945. Only two women and two men out of 104 deportees (INDEX OF NAMES), who had their roots in Bukovina, survived after 8 May 1945: Sara Adler and Theresia Breitner from Czernowitz, Wilhelm Berler from Nepolokoutz and Juda Meier Fleischer from Siret. 96,2% of the people originated from Bukovina deported on in total 28 Transports were wiped out.

There he became friendly with Michel Zechel, a Jewish doctor. They were deported to Auschwitz on April 19. Willy Berler was sent to the Buna/Monowitz concentration camp and placed there in the “lumberyard detachment,” carrying heavy logs with his bare hands. After a week, totally exhausted, he entered the infirmary. After his release, his block elder took pity on him and arranged for his transfer to the Auschwitz I main camp in early July 1943. There he was sent to the prisoner infirmary and, with the help of Michel Zechel, was placed in the block for the very weak who needed to convalesce.

In late January 1944, as a former chemistry student, he was assigned to the SS Hygiene Institute at Rajsko, where he had to work in a plant cultivation lab. During the night of January 18, 1945, along with the other prisoners at Auschwitz, he was forced to go on the death march. Passing through the Gross-Rosen concentration camp, he reached the Buchenwald concentration camp on February 6. There he was freed by the U.S. Army on his birthday, April 11, 1945.

Willy Berler returned to Belgium. In 1946, he and his brother, who had fought in the Red Army, brought their parents from Romania to join them. He worked in industry and married his wife, Ruth, in 1947. In collaboration with the historian Ruth Fivaz-Silvermann, Willy Berler wrote the book Durch die Hölle. Monowitz, Auschwitz, Gross-Rosen, Buchenwald (published in English as Journey Through Darkness: Monowitz, Auschwitz, Gross-Rosen, Buchenwald in 2004), most of which is the story of his survival. The rest of the book consists of short, separate texts contributed by Fivaz-Silvermann, providing background information that supplements Berler’s account with annotations and source references.