«Jewish Observer»
November 2002
5763 Kislev

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The XX century brought us many tragedies. One of the candles burnt in the fire of Holocaust became a small town of Brailov in the Vinnitsa region. In February and April 1942 fascists exterminated here nearly 3000 Jews. Even those 300 Jews, who escaped to the Zhmerinka ghetto, failed to survive. A Zhmerinka major Kraft demanded from the Romanian authorities to deliver up Jews of Brailov. They were driven to Brailov and shot dead in the place of the first pogrom - in a field near a granite cliff. Already in June 1942 Germans hung a poster at the town entrance: "Yids - free town"...

In post-war years relatives of Nazi victims commemorated the dead. But the time was relentlessly destroying the monument, whereas Brailov, which most population once constituted Jews, has lost this part of its inhabitants.

But the memory survived. A group of USA emigrants from Brailov, having learnt about a dying monument, raised necessary funds for its restoration. The commission of US Congress on preserving cultural heritage abroad approved of the project on reconstructing the monument. Due to the selfless efforts of Vinnitsa city Jewish community, Zhmerinka Jewish community and Vinnitsa charitable center "Khesed Emuna" restoration works became a success with an all-round support of the Brailov authorities.

Finally, October 6 a renovated monument was opened for the second time. The mourning ceremony was attended by Joseph and Maria Lerner owing to whom the funds for the reconstruction had been raised. Among those present were the ambassador of State of Israel to Ukraine Anna Azari, a member of the US Congress commission on preserving cultural heritage abroad Ary Storch, other official guests, members of the Vinnitsa regional state administration and Zhmerinka district administration, leadership of the Vinnitsa and Zhmerinka Jewish organizations, inhabitants of Vinnitsa, Zhmerinka, Brailov.

Over two hours lasted a meeting-requiem. The gathering heard eyewitnesses of those terrible events, guests from the capital and abroad. We watched mourning dramatizations bringing us back to those years, listened to live sad music of Vinnitsa kleizmers.

The Brailov monument is a drop in the sea of our memory fascism and later the Soviet ideological machine tried to strangle. But if we act together, irrespective of our residing in Ukraine, Israel or USA, we will manage to return this memory.


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