Traveling to Rohatyn

created by Alex Feller

updated 5/16/2013

Planning a Trip to Rohatyn

People to Interview in Rohatyn:

1. Paulina Belay

2. Maria "Zunca" Reiss

3. Mr. Vorobets

Things to see in Rohatyn:

(landmarked on a Google Map http://goo.gl/maps/JqQYf)

1. Old Jewish Cemetery

2. New Jewish Cemetery

3. 2 Holocaust Memorials and Mass Grave Markers

4. Area of Synagogues with Beit Hamidrash still standing.

5. Judenrat Building and Plaque

Airlines:

1. LOT Polish Airlines connecting through Warsaw to Lviv.

Guides:

1. Igor Ivanishin. Email: lviv.igor@gmail.com

2. Oleksander Denysenko. tuagtuag@gmail.com

Websites: http://ukrainelivingfamily.blogspot.com/

Skype: alexalex9750 Phone: +1 571 281-3464 Phone: +380 32 2611473 Mobile: +380 506710725

3. Alexander and Natalie Dunai. Lives in Lviv.

Email: aldunai@gmail.com, aldunai@yahoo.com, www.alexdunai.com; Phone: 38-050-6741968

4. Igor Holyboroda. Website: http://people.polynet.lviv.ua/iholybor/

5. Krzysztof Malczewski Email: Krystek@a4.pl (Polish)

6. Svetlana Biriulova, <sbiryulova@gmail.com>

Lviv Hotels:

1. Grand Hotel. Website: http://www.ghgroup.com.ua/

2. George Hotel.

3. Leopolis Hotel. Website: http://www.leopolishotel.com/

4. Vintage Hotel. Website: http://www.vintagehotel.com.ua/en/home.html

5. Lviv Hotels listed and reviewed on TripAdvisor.com. Website: http://www.tripadvisor.com/Hotels-g295377-Lviv-Hotels.html

Lviv pocket guide (downloadable pdf): See below under 'Attachments".

Lviv Archives: Not recommended.

Ivano-Frankovisk Hotels:

1. Temple Hotel http://www.tempel.if.ua/

Optional Visits to:

1, Rabbi Moyshe-Leib Kolesnik in Ivano-Frankovisk (Has information on Jewish Communities in Ukraine). Email: mlkolesnik@mail.ru

A note from Ihor, librarian at the Rohatyn library, to Marla on visiting elder members of the Rohatyn community:

First I visited the Ukrainian lady. She is 90 years old. Her name is Mariya Loboda (Hoy). She has some memories about the Jews in Rohatyn. For example she remembers the house of Horn family near the Roman Catholic Church. She told me that often visited a meat and sausage shop of Mrs Pocicha and once she was at Dr. Stein’s medical office. She remembers that her husband who owned a shop had some kind of business with Shkolnik and Faust. She mentioned that the first one had a printing establishment in Rohatyn and the other one (Faust) was a famous local musician. Her memory about ghetto is very general and during the conversation that lasted more than an hour she keep telling me that Ukrainians and Jews were in good relationships at that time. The daughter of this woman who looks after her mentioned that her aunt Marta Shmigel helped one Jewish girl to avoid death from Nazis. The name of that girl was Sabina Fuks (not sure about spelling).Later, in early 90’s Sabina Fuks visited Rohatyn.

The next day I visited the Jewish lady. She is 77. Her name is Mariya Tsapar. She is from well-known Jewish Rohatyn family Reis (“Raiz” in transcription). Even before I came to her she told me on the phone that she didn’t remember anybody who belonged to the Jewish community in Rohatyn but she welcomed me to come to her house so I did and showed her the photos that wasn’t identified by her. She explained that the reason why she doesn’t remember people from that time is her age – she was 7 when the Nazis came. In 1941 she ran from Rohatyn to the nearest village Zalaniv where the Ukrainian family accepted her as their own child. She came back to Rohatyn in 1990 or so when her daughter managed to return their native house legally. Now Mrs Mariya Tsapar lives together with her daughter and her son who is a person with childhood disability. They also have two wonderful cats that were sleeping peacefully on the bed all the time while I was talking with their masters :).

Mrs Mariya Tsapar told me that I’m not the first who asked her about the Jews in Rohatyn. A couple of years ago people from the USA came to her. They asked her about their relatives in Rohatyn. I saw their photos and a letter from them so I know their names – Alison, Zachary and Joshua Herlands from Clarks Summit, PA.

At the end of this meeting the daughter of Mrs Mariya Tsapar joined us. She confirmed that her mother can’t remember the events and the people because of the reason I mentioned above. She said that it’s almost impossible to find a person in Rohatyn who can remember those days. People that she calledl to witness during the procedure of her family house the returning are dead now. She also advised me to meet with another Jewish woman in Rohatyn who was a teacher in local school and I planned to do that but recently I found out that this woman sold her house and moved to Kiev to her niece. And she wasn’t born in Rohatyn but came after the war from the eastern part of Ukraine so she wouldn’t help anyway.

The other day one of my colleagues suggested me ask another old Ukrainian woman who know is 93 years old and seems to be the oldest person in the town. She has a sister who is 87. Both of them can remember the life in Rohatyn in 1930-40’s. I met their granddaughter/niece yesterday, gave her your photos. She promised to showed the photos to her grandmother and grandaunt. If they remember something/somebody that could be interesting for you I’ll let you know.

MARLA'S TRIP TO ROHATYN AND THE INFORMATION SHE OBTAINED 4/2011.

I thought some of you might be interested to hear about another visit we made to the Galician town of Rohatyn on 13 April 2011. This was our second trip since having landed in Lviv the end of March. Apologies in advance for the length of this posting, but a lot of ground was covered! Links to photos and scanned documents we acquired on this visit from the library and the local historian are at the bottom of this summary.

We arrived in Rohatyn by rental car just before noon, after having booked a room for the night at Hotel Fortuna in Cherche, 5 kilometers away. We were to meet Ihor Klischch, the young Rohatyn library department head, for a tour of the library, then take lunch at Cafe Victor on Halytska Street. facing the Rynek. We parked the car in front of the library, facing the bronze bust of Ivan Franko and the now largely dormant Rohatyn cinema ("Kino"). Ihor spotted us getting out of the car, and he was coming out of the library door when we turned around. He gave us each a warm smile, handshake, and hug.

As promised, we toured the library (the internet room and the location of the director's office, the reading room, and the children's book and reading room) and discussed library challenges in Ukraine, and then went for lunch. After lunch we walked down Halytska Street. Ihor had promised to show us the "courtyard" which appeared in an old Rohatyn postcard that Alex Feller of our Rohatyn research group had found; we would not have been able to find its location on our own, despite the uniqueness of one of the building's crow-stepped gables, had Ihor not led us there. Today, the courtyard is tucked behind a low but modern structure on Halytska Street and filled with diverse repair facilities and small businesses; none of the lush greenery from the old postcard photo still exists. Ihor explained he was told that at one time, the long building appearing in the old photo on the right had had a basement prison circa 1939, thereafter a warehouse.

We then continued along Halytska Street past today's modern, Soviet-era high-rise State administrative building, heading for the town museum. On the way we passed the former small street passage known as Wuzka (or Wazka), where, according to post-War Stanislawow casualty records compiled by the Soviets, at least three (if not four) HORN families had lived here (including FRUCHTER and LIEBLING). What we found was today a partly-paved, partly-dirt walking path that wound its way from Krypyakevycha Street (along which runs Babinka creek) past a couple of older houses and into a modern high-rise common area with playground, leading to a passage to the southwest corner of the Rynek. (Once we got home and we closely examined the 1944 German aerial photos of Rohatyn, we could easily see that Wuzka had had a similar path at one time - but unbroken and appearing paved - along which had been 3 or 4 houses, with the road branching to several short streets south

of the Rynek).

Ihor then took us for an organized tour of the Rohatyn town museum, located in a small building on the site of a prominent former artist's residence, just south of the former Judenrat building (today a school for orphans and children with disabilities). A museum docent (Maryana) gave us a tour of the collection, followed by a tour of the late-16th c. wooden church of the Holy Spirit (which has applied for UNESCO status). Both places were interesting and informative, the former confirming that the Rohatyn Rynek once had a tall clock tower in the middle of the square and that the city had once been surrounded by fortress-like stone walls. A part of these walls (now gone) once ran along former Nove Miasto Street, today called Kulryka.

From there we walked back into town to find an espresso before meeting with school teacher and local historian, Mr. Mikhailo Vorobets, scheduled for 4:00 p.m. at the library. When we emerged from the cafe we made a turn and unexpectedly ran into Mr. Vorobets who was hurriedly walking toward the library to be early for the meeting. We greeted and headed back to the library to begin the meeting; Ihor had already arranged for the four of us to use the library's main reading room for this purpose.

We spent about two and a half hours talking with Mr. Vorobets; Ihor acted as translator. Mr. Vorobets had brought with him a folder of hand-written notes, lists, and documents, as well as newspaper clippings (mostly from the 1998 dedication of the Jewish memorials) and a few photos. I had my computer open with all my Rohatyn files and photos available to me. My husband Jay acted as note-taker and photographer. Mr. Vorobets was warm, talkative, and energetic; he came prepared to share with us whatever he had that we were interested in. Naturally, discussions were a bit cumbersome and confused at times, as there were a lot of topics we and he wanted to cover, and Ihor had to translate in both directions. All of Mr. Vorobets' research notes were, of course, hand-written in Ukrainian. A summary of our discussions with Mr. Vorobets is further below.

At around 6:30 p.m., everyone was fatiguing. Ihor agreed to use the library's scanner to scan the various lists, notes, and documents that Mr. Vorobets willingly offered us. Given the incompleteness of our notes and the rush of the meeting, Jay and I figured it would be best to have scans of Mr. Vorobets' original notes and papers for deciphering - and translating - later.

As Ihor began scanning the documents, Mr. Vorobets took my arm and motioned for us to take a walk. We did, briskly, with Jay following closely behind to shoot snapshots. First stop from the library was up Ivan Franko Street, in the direction of the Rynek; Mr. Vorobets pointed out a private garden between two houses, where unseen under the soil silently lie an unknown number of Jewish headstones; he estimates as many as 13-15. Plans are in the works by us to have these stones unearthed and moved to the "new" Jewish cemetery for safe-keeping.

From there, we backed up to Mitskevycha Street and turned south. Mr. Vorobets sped along ahead of me, excitedly speaking in Ukrainian (knowing I don't speak a word!). I recognized the words "Doctor LEVENTER" and knew that he wanted to show me the house that had once belonged to this prominent Rohatyn Jewish family; I knew this because, during our meeting, Mr. Vorobets had showed us a list he had compiled since 1998 of some of the houses still standing that once belonged to Jewish families; on that list we recognized the surnames HORN, LEVENTER, KREISLER, GOLDSCHLAG, AMARANT, WIND, KARTIN, and MARK (discussed further below), all of whom are being researched in my Rohatyn google research group. When we reached Shevchenko Street, we hurried across to look back: there at the corner of Mitskevycha and Shevchenko was a pinkish two-story building with balconies. "Doctor LEVENTER", Mr. Vorobets kept repeating, pointing to the building. Today, a couple

doors to the right of this building, is the Rohatyn city administration building.

From there we rushed east up Shevchenko Street toward the large Ukrainian high school building and grounds where Mr. Vorobets still teaches. From there we briskly headed north to the area behind the dormant "Kino" cinema (where we parked our car) where a synagogue had once served the Jewish community; today it is a sad, badly remodeled structure that is largely boarded up. We could not see any architectural clues suggesting this building's once Jewish past.

We returned to the library just as Ihor was finishing the scanning. Mr. Vorobets seemed rather sad that our visit was ending, and I thought I detected watery eyes when he kissed my hand good-bye and touched his heart. I had tears in my eyes. Ihor walked us out to our car where we all hugged and promised to be in touch again very soon.

After leaving Ihor, we visited and photographed a few more sites around town and then drove to the Elite Center Hotel on the southern edge of Rohatyn, near the railroad tracks, where we ate a much-needed dinner. We then returned to the Fortuna Hotel in Cherche, catching a few hours of restless sleep before rising early the next day to photograph nine more towns between Rohatyn and Lviv where Rohatyners had had family or connections. We returned the rental car to the Lviv airport just before 6:00 p.m. on Thursday.

The following summarizes our discussion with Mr. Vorobets at the library, with Ihor acting as translator. I apologize in advance for brevity and imprecision in our notes - Jay and I were not only furiously writing to keep up with the information, but simultaneously also trying to listen and ask more questions!

The notes are arranged by topic, as several have accompanying documents (in Ukrainian, for now), linked further below:

1. About Mr. Vorobets.

He was born in 1934, so was only about age 7 during the height of the War. He heard and saw things but did not comprehend them at the time, and filled in his understanding when older. For example, after the first Aktion, a friend of his father's came to the Vorobets home and asked his father if they (father and son) wanted to come see where the Jews had been killed and buried. He went with his father and saw two trenches - the bodies were covered but there was blood everywhere and the ground was still moving in places. He was very upset seeing all this and asked to be taken away. Mr. Vorobets has assembled some historical details about families, houses, occupations, and life in the Jewish community, as part of his larger work collecting history of the town; these notes are unpublished to-date. A few of them were scanned during our visit and the link to them is below.

2. Partial list of buildings of Rohatyn Jewish families still standing.

Created by Mr. Vorobets following the 1998 Rohatyn memorial dedications for those Jews killed during the Shoah, this list was made from interviews personally conducted by him with elderly townspeople, now deceased, who had direct memories of the War and Jewish families in Rohatyn. Addresses appearing beside surnames had at least two witnesses to corroborate. Surnames on this list include, for example, HORN (at #3 Kotsyobinsko Street, located just behind the end building on the Rynek next to the Ukrainian Church; today this building is owned by the nearby school), KREISLER, GOLDSCHLAG, MARK, AMARANT (today, #28 Halitska), KARTIN, LEVENTER, and ROTHBAUM (sp?) - surnames familiar to all of us in my Rohatyn research group.

3. Partial list of Jewish pupils at the Ukrainian high school.

In the 1912-13 list, the name "HORN, Taube" appears, for example. The name "Taykhman Samuil" (TEICHMAN) appears in the 6th grade.

4. Aktions.

Although I have only ever read of three Aktions in Rohatyn, Mr. Vorobets says that according to records located at the Archives in Ivano-Frankvysk, there were four, the dates being as follows: 20 March 1942, 21-22 September 1942, 8 December 1942, and 6 July 1943. (Regarding this last one - July, 1943 - I had always understood this Aktion took place in June, so I don't know if this is an error or a correction).

In the first Aktion, there was a Jewish man named FLEISCHLAGER (sp?) who jumped into the open trench even though he had not been shot; he survived by climbing out after the killings. Later on, he returned to Rohatyn's ghetto and was holding a pail for water when he was stopped by the SS. An SS officer allowed him to go get the water, and from there he escaped and joined the Soviet army. Mr. Vorobets believes he may have subsequently been killed in action.

5. Polish Red School document of David BAUMRIND.

Sent to Mr. Vorobets from Israel, this document was some sort of hastily issued graduation certificate from 1941, just weeks before the German army invaded the town.

6. Judenrat.

List of the members of Judenrat (at one time), which apparently includes these names: AMARANT (as head), Dr. HOLTSTEIN (sp?), Eli KREISLER, Dr. FREIWALD, Dr. HOLTVORT (sp?), Feivel GOLDSCHLAG, Dr. ROSENSTEIN (sp?), and Michael KATZ.

7. Pukiv story.

There was a Jewish teacher from this town named Anatoly ENGELBERG. He and his wife were forced into the Rohatyn ghetto. Their son elected to go to Rohatyn with them, knowing he would die there and because he wanted to die with them. This story was taken by Mr. Vorobets from Rohatyn town elders post-1998.

8. Mr. Vorobets' neighbor's story.

Three Jews hid in the basement of a chapel in town (location not specified in our meeting) who were denounced and killed by the Nazis. Mr. Vorobets' neighbor, a women, who saw this happen, told him this in her interview by him. (Appears in testimony list, link below).

9. Sabina WIND family.

House #101 Halytska - still standing today. This house belonged to the family of Sabina WIND, whom Mr. Vorobets met in 1997 and/or 1998 along with Fishel KIRSCHEN, Mordechai FUKS, and someone named PERL. Sabina and her family, per Mr. Vorobets, hid in the basement of the building that is today the town's Courthouse. A Ukrainian man named ONOFRY kept them alive by smuggling food to them.

10. Jewish headstones around town today.

According to Mr. Vorobets, there are over a dozen pieces of Jewish headstones located in several places around town (not in either cemetery). As mentioned above, for example, at least a dozen are supposedly buried in a private vegetable garden up the street from the library. When stones were unearthed in recent years, Mr. Vorobets contacted Boris Arsen (see Odds 'n' Ends discussion, below) and arranged for them to be moved to the "new" Jewish cemetery (this cemetery - with links to our photos taken during our 4 April 2011 visit to Rohatyn - were included in a prior posting to the GG Digest). In addition to the vegetable garden, there are one or more pieces stacked behind the Courthouse (today, next to the former Sokol) after being unearthed during recent excavation work in town installing new communication lines. At present, we are working on making formal arrangements for the collection and transportation of all known detached Jewish headstones

(and pieces of headstones) to the "new" Jewish cemetery, where the remains of other headstones are already located. We will try to photograph any of these headstones moved by the time of our next visit to Rohatyn (with Alex Feller) on 13 May, and will make arrangements for moving and documenting the rest later, using local contacts, once we have concluded our time in Lviv in mid-June.

11. Odds 'n' Ends.

There were three soccer teams in town (Jewish, Ukrainian, and Polish), and they practiced in what is today the mostly dormant cinema ("Kino") building opposite the library on Ivan Franko Street. The Jewish team called itself the Maccabees.

The Rohatyn town archives, located on today's Halytska Street, may have pre-War records. The museum we visited may have some inter-War records. Whether any of these are of Jewish families (or exist at all) is unknown. We will make inquiries through Ihor before our next 13 May visit.

"My Bitter Truth" - a book written by Boris ARSEN, a Rohatyner who survived the War and then moved to Ivano-Frankvysk.

We have two more visits to Rohatyn planned next month: one on 13 May with Alex Feller, already mentioned , and another on 17 May with Alex Feller plus Dori and Mitchell Glotzer (whose father Jack (Kuba) GLOTZER was a survivor of the Shoah and who wrote an amazing account of his escape from Rohatyn, available to my Rohatyn research group). For this fourth and final visit, we will be accompanied by researcher and friend, Alex Denysenko, as on our first visit to Rohatyn on 4 April 2011.

Scans of the documents and a photo from Mr. Vorobets are here: http://www.pbase.com/nuthatch/ua_20110413_vorobets

Click on a thumbnail to see it larger. Underneath the enlarged image, you can click on the word "original" to see the document at full resolution, for better reading or for downloading.

Photos of our day in Rohatyn 13 April 2011 are here: http://www.pbase.com/nuthatch/ua_110413_rohatyn

For those with family connections to Rohatyn and interest in joining a private research group composed of children, grandchildren, and a even a few "original" Rohatyners, please visit Phyllis Kramer's Rohatyn shteltlinks page - where there is a link to the "Rohatyn Google Discussion Group": http://www.shtetlinks.jewishgen.org/rohatyn/rohatyn.htm

...or by following this direct link: http://groups.google.com/group/rohatyn-shtetl/about

You can also email the group's founder Alex Feller at aefeller@gmail.com or its administrator Dale Friedman atdale.friedman@gmail.com.