In this page I will post various items of interest that I come across relating to the History of the area of Borislaw and Drohobycz. Some of it will be in Hebrew and other in English (if you use Chrome you can get the browser to automatically translate).
1. Read the fascinating book in English (PDF format) by Meir Chameidis (in English) and how members of his family survived the war in Borislaw. https://docs.google.com/viewer?url=http://www.drohobycz-boryslaw.org/images/attachments/attachments/families/chemeides/that-war-and-me.pdf
On our visit we (almost) found the exact place where the family hid in the roof of the local school. See this clip with the story’s background as read by Yossi Rand
This clip shows the outside roof of the building where the Chameidis family were hidden.
This clip shows the ladder into the roof of the school where we believe they were hidden.
2. August 2nd 2012
See this online album of photos from our tour by Moti Heifermann.
This email was received from Moti and Hani Heifermann after our return.
חני ואני ביקרנו היום במוזיאון מרתף השואה בהר ציון (נמצא מול הכניסה לקבר דוד, בצמוד למסעדת נבל דוד ולישיבת התפוצות).
מוזיאון קטן, מעניין מאד, לדאבוננו מוזנח עקב חוסר תקציבים, אבל חזק מאד ברושם שמשאיר. פרט למוצגים המעניינים – יש אזכור להרבה מאד קהילות שנכחדו, וזה ייחודו. לאחר שחזרנו מהמסע – השמות בתמונות שצרפנו אומרים לנו קצת יותר מאשר סתם אבנים שחקוקות בקיר…מומלץ מאד לביקור !!
חני ומוטי הייפרמן.
I have also read the book in English of Chaim (Imek) Segal who writes in great descriptive detail his experiences in Borislaw during the period of the Holocaust. The book was published in 2012 and exhibits his amazing recall for events. He has many pictures in the book including general scenes of the town, its people and his family. He also shows a picture of a model, built by Gustek Halmut, of what a “bunker” / hiding place in the forest looked like. He writes with amazing attention to detail and the reader is left gasping for breath.
4. Through a friend in Australia I found this article on the story of Sabina van der Linden-Wolanski who died in 2011 and also wrote a book on how she survived the holocaust in Boryslaw. See article here
5. You can read the text of a speech given by Professor Joseph Lippman in 2007 – one of the few Jewish survivors of WWII in Boryslav.
6. You can see this online album of our tour by Hana Granot from our group. Click here.
7. I spoke Leah Kuperman who has written a kind of “guide” to research archive records in the area of Boryslaw and Drohobycz.
טיפים למחקר משפחתי גנאלוגי והיסטורי
You can see the guide here :
and a second page here :
8. My brother Phil (Yitzhak) when on a separate visit to Boryslaw/Drohobyc in 2013 and he sent me some of these useful references
about Alred Shreyer born in Drohobych before the war – well made film with vivid descriptions of the synagogue in all it glory and of the lives of the 13,500 Jews there before the war, living peacefully with the Poles and Ukranians in the city of 42,000 residents, some very rich some very poor, administrative and oil refining centre for Boryslav..
about the film on Alfred Shreyer: “The Last Jew from Drohobych” – this is not the film itself, I don’t know if that is on the internet.
David Grossman talks in NY about Bruno Schultz, Jewish author from Drohobych
a really excellent documentary about Bruno Schultz, his life, drawings and writings…..Schultz had for example the idea “my ideal is to mature into childhood”, surely connected to his traumatic experience with his father descending into madness and his beloved country descending into madness of WWII and the shoah and ending in Schultz’s murder by a Nazi officer shooting him… He also said: “Isn’t it true that we secretly hold hands under the table that separates us.” Also “Winged creatures don’t need any soil, if there’s no land, lets have the sky”.
9. Other general impressions from our visit :
Wikipedia describes the town as Boryslav
: Борислав, Polish
) is a city
located on the Tysmenytsia River
(a tributary of the Dniester
), in the Lviv Oblast
) of western Ukraine
. The city is designated as a separate raion
(district) within the oblast. The current estimated population is around 36,704 (as of 2005). Near the city of Boryslav are located ruins of Ruthenian Tustan fortress. The city is also known as the center of an oil industry. Borislav was an important Jewish town in Eastern Galicia prior to WW II.
Life is tough in Ukraine and the people – certainly in the towns we have been to, seem to be challenged with generally very tough lives on low incomes. Even the young doctor accompanying us on the tour earns about $300 per month including 4 overtime shifts. The average salary is the equivalent of about $200-250 a month (about 800-1000
Shekels). For more about Ukrainian economy see Wikipedia
There seems to be a pervasive sense of sadness, exhaustion and even anger in the faces of the people.
In this area of Borislav people are generally lower class working or unemployed (Officially Ukraine has 9% unemployed but a large number of unofficial unemployed). We have seen lots of drunks in the streets and people hassling / begging for handouts.
The infrastructure in the towns we have been to is generally in bad shape and many aspects of building repairs , water supply , road repairs etc have not been touched for many many years. There’s no sign of serious attempts to change the situation ( except new airport terminal at Lvov). In Borislav mains water supply lasts for a few hours a day only.
Our guide Tanya gave us a couple of examples of life here. She said it generally takes her 2-3 days to do a load of washing because of the erratic water supply.
She also said that getting medical care in hospitals is a huge challenge and if you need an operation you need to find the funds to pay for all the medications and equipment used by the surgeon.
Tanya herself works for Jewish welfare organizations like the Joint (JDC) and Chessed and they either run soup kitchens or give the elderly money to survive. Many of them would not be able to support themselves because the state fails to provide decent pensions or income security. She does this work in several towns around In the district of Lvov and her office with three other workers is in Borislav.
The people have been generally friendly and cooperative. Some have gone out their way to help. Some need a “tip” to motivate them. Corruption, it seems, is rife in the country.
Most Ukrainians don’t seem to know much, if anything, about the history of the Jewish communities that were in their midst and have now all but disappeared . We tried to engage in discussion with several people and did not get the impression that they had learned much about the darker side of their country’s history. It seems the authorities went to great lengths to either hide or ignore the tragedy which befell 99 per cent of the Jews who lived in these parts for many generations.
The area has definite feeling of “Judenfrei” or Judenrein” (the notorious policy of the Nazis).
One example was a conversation we had with a tax driver today in which he found it necessary to focus on the number (1,500) of Ukrainian nationalists who had been killed by the Soviets in the early 1950s. For him it seemed to be the biggest tragedy his nation had faced. No mention of the nearly 1 million Jews from the Galicia area who had been massacred by the Germans.
At the moment there is a major political rift in the country involving a law which is being passed ( it may have already been passed) which allows each area of Ukraine the right to decide what is the first language of that region. The western areas are Ukrainian and the Eastern are more Russian oriented. The autonomous area of Crimea already had Russian as it’s official language.
We saw some political activity in the main square of Drohobycz with a booth of the nationalist party recruiting people. There is a rather scary right-wing group in Ukraine which has a symbol that remarkably resembles the Swastika. The following is sourced from Wikipedia.
Politics of Ukraine has been descibed by scholars as ” weak, fractured, highly personal and ideologically vacuous while the judiciary and media fail tonhold politicians to account ( Dr Taras Kuzio in 2009). Ukrainian politics has been categorised as ” over centralised ” which is seen as both a legacy of the Soviet system and caused by a fear of separatism.
10. The Yad Vashem website posted this piece about Berthold Beitz who was recognised by the organisation in 1973 as a “Righteous Among the Nations,” for saving Jews in Boryslaw during the German occupation. See story here
11. A separate report on a visit to Boryslav in 2010 by Erez G (surname to be obtained) with much additional material, photos and video clips
12. This item was published by the Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust – commemorating 70 years since the uprising at the Janowska Concentration Camp. A place we visited and is still operating as a prison.
13. The following film was produced by Hesed in Lvov in 2012 (English script)
14. Read about Berthold Beitz who helped to save many Jews during the Nazi Occupation.
For other sources and reading on Borislaw :
main website – mostly Hebrew
A History of the Jews of Borislaw
See Borislaw website (in Chrome you can request translation of site to English)
On the website there is an item posted on July 26th 2012 saying :
“The official celebration of 625 years of Borislav begin September 2 great festive liturgy.”
Another interesting item posted on the town’s website – dated July 26th 2012
- Mayor of Borislav Vladimir Firman had a weekly meeting with the heads of executive bodies of the City Council. The main issue of the meeting: the elimination of the consequences of getting oil to the water network of the city. As reported to the chief sanitary doctor of Borislav Roman swallow: “The situation has improved. We observe a significant reduction of water pollution. But water use is not allowed. Flushing water supply CP “Boryslavvodokanalom” continues. Today, organized internally washing of house water networks budgetary institutions of special machines unit MOE, namely, pre-school number 20 and school number 4. “