General question about Relations for our Town

Tony Hausner

Please comment on a discussion we are having among members of our town research group.  Our town is in Eastern Galicia.  Like many towns, a number of local residents were involved in the massacres of Jews during the Holocaust.  Some of our members would like to do something to connect with the current town residents to make them aware of the former Jewish presence. To improve relations between those of us who’s family came from the Jewish community in the town and the current residents.   What possible suggestions do you have. Others in our group, especially some survivors have such bitter memories that they do not want to do anything.  Welcome comments. 

Tony Hausner Silver Spring, MD 20901 301--587-6943 (primary email address: thausner@...)

Tony Hausner


Tony, 10 years ago I visited the website of Pacanów, the shtetl of my mother's family. All in Polish, but I saw "gazeta" and sent an e-mail in English, asking for information about the former Jewish community. I had a good surprise. Plenty of data from the historian of the city of the Jewish life there, including testimonies of witnesses of the day of the deportation, the names of the traitors that drove the Nazis into the city, pointing where the Jews live, etc. I put him in contact to other survivor from Pacanów, here in São Paulo, and he collaborated for a biographical book written by his daughter. This is my suggestion: why not try a contact like that?
José Marcos Thalenberg, from São Paulo, Brazil.


I, too, visited some of my ancestral towns in eastern Galicia, including Zbaraz, in late fall, 2006. By then, the dark years of the Holocaust had come and gone like a giant tsunami, its colossal waves bringing death to millions, wiping out everything, and then receding as if it never happened.

The Jewish cemetery was still shabby and untended, although I have heard that since then, it's been cleaned up, which is good. I commend the efforts of those today who hope to meet with current residents, but I could not look at any old person without thinking... did he/she play a part, or know someone who did? I have also read that the Soviets relocated many people to Zbaraz after the war, so their memories don't go all the way back. 

I was driven, in part, by an online image I had seen of a 10-feet tall cenotaph erected in 1947 "in memory of the terrible destruction which was wrought by the German and Ukraine mass-murdered, in our town of Zbaraz." I assumed that the cenotaph was in Zbaraz, because carved near the top were the words, "Here Lies Soap." Eventually, I found the cenotaph in Beth David Cemetery, in Elmont NY, after I returned to the US. Even so, my visit to Zbaraz was powerful, and sad.

Susan J. Gordon

Tony Hausner

Thanks for a very helpful response

Ellen Shindelman Kowitt

I have had great success working with local school teachers in both Lyubar, Ukraine and Chudnov, Ukraine. Although noted that these towns are further east in the former Novograd Volynsk and Zhytomir Administrative Districts and not within former Galician borders. Most schools have English teachers and students interested in western culture and who are too young to have been complicit in wartime collaborations. There are organizations teaching Holocaust history and partnering with local schools. Contact me for one based in Kiev if interested. I met them while travelling with the German-funded "Protecting Memory Project" last summer who erected Holocaust memorials on 9 mass graves located throughout Ukraine. The towns selected were specifically chosen based on willingness by local school and municipal officials to continue teaching about the Holocaust. I am satisfied to report that the school contact I made in Lyubar reported that on the anniversary of the Lyubar executions this past fall, they did in fact bring students to the memorial site and honored the commitment. A fascinating side note is that one of the gymnasium schools in Lyubar has had a permanent exhibit about the history of their Jewish community on display in their lobby for many years. I have been JewishGen Lyubar town leader for over 25 years and saw original photos, maps and letters housed in their collection that are not available anywhere else. Adjacent to their Jewish exhibit was a model of a typical Ukrainian home exhibit and although that collection was more of a folk museum and not Jewish, I was excited to find a pre-wartime ceramic piece made by a famous Jewish factory near Novograd Volynsk city. My overall takeaway for your discussion is that there are opportunities to partner with the right people in these small towns. I felt safe travelling back to the region since my last trip in 1999, there is much more English (and Ukrainian vs. Russian) being spoken, and there is a willingness to openly discuss and acknowledge crimes of the past which were silenced under the Soviets. Feel free to contact me with questions.