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ABOUT THIS PROJECT

Our two AudioWalks take you on a journey through Jewish Chernivtsi and Chişinău and allow you to discover many of the cities’ nearly forgotten sites of Jewish life.

Use our multimedia maps, and explore the family pictures, archival material, and personal stories of 21 Jewish Holocaust survivors to get a unique insight into the rich Jewish heritage of these two European cities.

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Jewish Literature

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A remarkable number of writers and poets who left traces in Chernivtsi come from the German-Jewish milieu. The Jewish literary figures placed their lost home, Chernivtsi, monuments in their works – and thus shaped the image of the city far beyond the borders of Bukovina. Karl Emil Franzos was the first well-known Jewish writer and publicist to report from – and about Chernivtsi – as early as the 1870s, and his stories reached a broad readership in the German-speaking world. He introduced the term “Half Asia” for the city on the Pruth, which was on the outermost edge of the Habsburg Empire – and for him on the edge of civilization.

A generation of Jewish poets, led by Alfred Margul-Sperber, who was born around 1900, followed, including Moses Rosenkranz, David Goldfeld and Alfred Kittner. They all wrote and published in German. The most famous poet of this generation is Rose Ausländer. She is commemorated with a plaque on her birthplace and with a statue on the nearby Turkish Square.

The next generation of Jewish literary figures, like Immanuel Weissglas and Alfred Gong, were born under Romanian rule in the 1920s. The youngest representative of this generation was the poet Selma Meerbaum-Eisinger, whose poems are now part of world literature. She survived the Chernivtsi Ghetto and died of typhus in a forced labor camp in late 1942 at the age of 18. Even better known is her grand cousin, Paul Antschel, who later called himself Paul Celan. His “Death Fugue” is considered one of the most important poems of the 20th century. He is remembered in different places in Chernivtsi.

In addition to the German-speaking Jewish authors, there were outstanding representatives of Yiddish literature in Czernowitz. Eliezer Steinbarg and Itzig Manger were particularly popular. Steinbarg died in 1932 and is buried in the Chernivtsi Jewish cemetery, Manger managed to escape to Paris in 1939 and later lived in New York. Jakob Sternberg, Moses Altmann and Josef Burg also belong to the circle of Yiddish poets and writers.

After World War II, most Jewish writers lived outside of Chernivtsi – if they survived the Holocaust. From a spatial and temporal distance, they remembered the former capital of Bukovina as a city “where people and books lived”. Rose Ausländer’s “Memories of a City”, written in 1965 and published in 1977, has shaped Chernivtsi´s image as a multicultural city to the present day. However, the literary work of the Jewish authors in Chernivtsi is also shaped by the memory of the horror: the Shoa, persecution, deportation and mass murder. Rose Ausländer and Paul Celan are honored separately in the AudioWalk at their respective birthplace.

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Celan Monument

A monument on Holovna street is dedicated to the famous Poet Paul Celan.

Birthplace Rose Ausländer

Birthplace of Rose Ausländer

“Why am I writing? Maybe because I was born in Czernowitz, because the world came to me in Czernowitz. That special landscape. The special people. Fairy tales and myths were in the air, you could breathe them in.” – Rose Ausländer

Birthplace of Paul Celan

Birthplace of Paul Celan

Known by many for his poem, “Death fugue”, Paul Celan was one of the famous German-language poets of the post–World War II era. Visit the house where his family lived in his hometown Chernivtsi, and where Paul grew up in the 1920s and 1930s before emigrating to Paris.