In Erased, Omer Bartov uncovers the rapidly disappearing vestiges of the Jews of western Ukraine, who were rounded up and murdered by the Nazis during World War II with help from the local populace. What begins as a deeply personal chronicle of the Holocaust in his mother's hometown of Buchach--in former Eastern Galicia--carries him on a journey across the region and back through history. This poignant travelogue reveals the complete erasure of the Jews and their removal from public memory, a blatant act of forgetting done in the service of a fiercely aggressive Ukrainian nationalism.
Bartov, a leading Holocaust scholar, discovers that to make sense of the heartbreaking events of the war, he must first grapple with the complex interethnic relationships and conflicts that have existed there for centuries. Visiting twenty Ukrainian towns, he recreates the histories of the vibrant Jewish and Polish communities who once lived there-and describes what is left today following their brutal and complete destruction. Bartov encounters Jewish cemeteries turned into marketplaces, synagogues made into garbage dumps, and unmarked burial pits from the mass killings. He bears witness to the hastily erected monuments following Ukraine's independence in 1991, memorials that glorify leaders who collaborated with the Nazis in the murder of Jews. He finds that the newly independent Ukraine-with its ethnically cleansed and deeply anti-Semitic population--has recreated its past by suppressing all memory of its victims.
Illustrated with dozens of hauntingly beautiful photographs from Bartov's travels, Erased forces us to recognize the shocking intimacy of genocide.
Omer Bartov is the John P. Birkelund Distinguished Professor of European History at Brown University. His books include Murder in Our Midst: The Holocaust, Industrial Killing, and Representation and Hitler's Army: Soldiers, Nazis, and War in the Third Reich.
"Bartov tells us in Erased...that his tour was prompted by a wish to rediscover the Jewish world his mother had known as a child and to establish how the region's Jews had died. But as his inquiry proceeds, its focus changed. Instead of adding to the vast corpus of Holocaust literature or celebrating the hayday of Galician Jewry, he has produced a study of collective denial and the means by which embarrassing facts about the past can be expunged from local memory. Bartov's account of his experiences in the field makes a disturbing story"--Philip Longworth, Times Literary Supplement
"This small volume is an important addition to contemporary Jewish travel literature. Bartov writes with clarity and palpable outrage, as he describes the pattern he found repeated almost everywhere: Virtually all traces of the Jews and their history have been erased. This book is an often brilliant and impassioned response to the annihilation from memory of the last traces of the Jews who lived for generations in the Ukraine. It is a valuable book both about the destruction of the past and an attempt to preserve memory into the future."--Jewish Book World
"A book that in its mixture of description and emotional commentary seeks to bring to light the shear success of efforts to expunge the Jewish past from eastern Galicia."--Simon J. Rabinovitch, Haaretz
Table of Contents:
Chapter I: The Borderland 1
Chapter II: Travels in the Borderland 11
L'viv -- Sambir -- Drohobych -- Stryi -- Bolekhiv --
Ivano-Frankivs'k -- Kolomyia -- Kosiv -- Kuty --
Horodenka -- Husiatyn -- Chortkiv -- Zolotyi Potik --
Buchach -- Monastyrys'ka -- Ternopil’ -- Berezhany --
Zolochiv -- Brody -- Zhovkva
Chapter III: Return 199
Additional Readings 215
About the Author 225
Index of Names 227
Index of Place-Names 229