From the 1st July 2012 an international volunteers' summer camp was held in Chernivtsi.
From the 1st till the 12th July 2012 an international volunteers' summer camp of the NGO ASF (the Action Reconciliation Service for Peace) was held in Chernivtsi. It's worth mentioning that the camp has already become traditional and traditionally it was supported by the Museum of the history and culture of the Bukovinian Jews.
15 volunteers of different age (the youngest was 40), occupations and social background from Germany and Poland, united by common wish to make their contribution to the cause of reconciliation with nations, who suffered from Nazis, were working for two weeks at the Jewish cemetery in Zelena Str. They also learnt a lot about the past and present of the City on the Prut.
For some of the participants, like for Dorothea from Karlsruhe, a trip to Chernivtsi became a great opportunity to find here traces of ancestors or relatives. Mr. and Mrs. Lohse from Dresden still keep memorable impressions from our city, which they got here a long time ago - being citizens of GDR and making a tour to USSR. For majority of volunteers Chernivtsi is an attractable symbol - a symbol of "the old good Europe", hidden under debris of "isms" of the 20th century; it is a symbol of "gains and loses" of the European and World culture, symbol of civility and barbarism of Europeans, a symbol of ignorance of contemporaries when it comes to treatment of rich historical and cultural heritage.
Unlike the previous year, this time volunteers deliberately didn't plan any events to attract the attention of local mass-media or citizens of the city. In their opinion, the idea of atonement should be based just on recognition of each person of his/her responsibility for the future by means of preservation of memories about the past even if it has its negative pages.
Local volunteers, like Mr. and Mrs. Schwartzman, who have already been supporting ASF activities in our city for a long time, also participated in the work of this summer camp. Leonie Barabas-Weil, an ASF volunteer to Chernivtsi, worked with a group at the cemetery as well. Ms. Barabas-Weil has already been helping the staff of the museum in its everyday work for almost a year.
Hard and exhausting work at the cemetery in adverse weather conditions (temperature exceeded 30 °Ñ even in the shade) was compensated by pleasant atmosphere of interesting after-lunch meetings. The US citizen Mrs. Miriam Taylor, who used to live in Chernivtsi in the past and is actively supporting the cause of clearing and preservation of the Jewish cemetery today, was a guest invited to a meeting of the group. A visit to the synagogue in Sadovskyi Str., meetings with representatives of the Jewish community of the Chernivtsi oblast, the Jewish Welfare Fund "Hesed - Shushana", other cultural associations and National Houses made unforgettable impressions on the participants of the camp. A tour around the Chernivtsi Museum of the History and Culture of Bukovinian Jews is a traditional part of the program of ASF volunteers' summer camps.
A meeting with Mr. Edgar Hauster, a connoisseur and a tireless researcher of Jewish life in Bukovina, a blogger and a friend of our museum from Netherlands was not planned in advance and this made a meeting even more interesting for volunteers.
Great impressions got by volunteers during a visit to our city give us hope that the interest to Chernivtsi will keep growing in European countries. Hence, new camps will be probably held in the future. And maybe some participants of this camp will be eager to come again like Kathrin Power, Georg Goosmann and Wies?awa Jurasz for whom this volunteer mission in Chernivtsi was not the first one. And the Museum of the History and Culture of Bukovinian Jews as a partner of the Action Reconciliation Service for Peace will do it best to make this happen.
Photos by Edgar Hauster.