In Czernowitz

Several members of the City for the Cultures of Peace have devoted their work to studying the history and culture of the Bukowina, in particular of its former capital: Czernowitz (as the city is known in German), also called Cernauti (in Romanian), Chernovtsy (in Russian), Cherivtsi (in Ukrainian), and Czerniowce (in Polish).

In the late 19th and the early 20th centuries, the city was a center of intense intercultural exchange in a multiethnic biotope where Romanians, Ruthenians (Ukrainians), Germans, Austrians, Jews, Poles, Armenians, Hungarians, Slovenes, Turks, Greeks, Hutsuls, Lipovanians, Gypsies, and several different religious denominations co-existend relatively peacefully for centuries. Their homeland, the Bukowina (Bucovina), located between the Bessarabian steppe, the northern Carpathian mountains, and Moldavia (Romania), was a world of “people and books” (Paul Celan, Gesammelte Werke, ed. Beda Allemann et al., Frankfurt/ Main: Suhrkamp, 1983, 3: 183), for it produced a multifaceted Austro-German, Austro-Jewish, Romanian, Ukrainian, and Yiddish literature with many authors being fluent in several languages.

Time and again Bukovinian writers, journalists, and political figures portrayed their pluriethnic homeland as a haven of peace and mutual understanding. Reflecting on Bukovina’s crossroads of languaes and cultures, the poets Rose Ausländer and Georg Drozdowski evoked the region’s main characteristics: “Vier Sprachen / Viersprachenlieder// Menschen, die sich verstehn.” “Four languages / Fourlanguagesongs / Poeple/ who understand each other” (Ausländer, Gesammelte Werke. Frankfurt/Main: Fischer, 1977-90, 4:130). “Bukowina, liebliches Land,/Schrein vieler Sprachen/ und mancherlei Art” (Bukowina, lovely country, /shrine of many languages/ and various types.” (Drozdowski, Sand im Getriebe der Sanduhren: Gedichte. Klagenfurt: Carinthia, 1965, 78-79). Some authors regarded the Bukowina not only as a European region per excellence, but also as a testing ground for a united Europe. It is emblematic that the Bukowina produced one of the forefathers of a united Europe. In 1920, Joseph Drach, a wealthy art-dealer from Czernowitz, developed detailed plans for establishing a European Union with Vienna as its capital. He also raised funds in order to establish a European Bank whose goal was to introduce a single curency in Europe: the European Dollar. One side of the coin displayed the image of Bertha von Suttner, the Austrian writer who won the Nobel prize for peace in 1905, the other side the slogan: “Nieder mit den Waffen!” (Down with the Weapons!)”. It is also emblematic of the region’s history that a visionary intellectual such as Drach was murdered in Auschwitz.

Paul Celan’s increasing fame as a poet helped introduce Bukowina as a literary topos into the counsciousness of the present. But for a long time, just a few representatives of Bukowina’s multifaceted literature were known to the public. Among them were several other Jewish athors writing in German, from Karl Emil Franzos to Rose Ausländer and Edgar Hilsenrath, the Yiddish poets Itzig Manger and Elieser Steinbarg, the Austro-Geman authors Joseph Gregor, Georg Drozdowski, and Gregor von Rezzori, the Ukrainian writer Ol’ha Kobylanska, the Romanian Romantic poet Mihai Eminescu; the Hebrew authors Aharon Appelfeld and Dan Pagis. The recently awakened interest in Bukowina and Czernowitz has generated many publications, including critical studies, reprints, anthologies and documentary films.

Among the members of the City for the Cultures of Peace who have contributed to the understanding of the multifaceted cultures of the Bukowina are Aharon Appelfeld, Israel Prize Holder, Writer and Professor of Literature, Jerusalem, Israel; Amy-Diana Colin, President of the City for the Cultures of Peace; Marianne Hirsch, William Peterfield Trent Professor of English and Comparative Literature, Columbia University, USA; Andrei Corbea-Hoișie, Alexandru-Ioan-Cuza University of Jași, Romania; Helmut Kusdat, Vienna, Austria; Peter Rychlo, Professor of Russian and German at the University of Czernowitz, Ukraine; Leo Spitzer, Kathe Tappe Vernon Professor of History, Dartmouth College, USA.

The following publications are of particular interest:

VERSUNKENE DICHTUNG DER BUKOWINA: ANTHOLOGIE DEUTSCHSPRACHIGER LYRIK, (anthology and handbook of poetry), co-edited by Amy-Diana Colin with the Shoah poet Alfred Kittner (1907-91). Munich: W. Fink Verlag, 1994.

SPUREN EINES EUROPÄERS: KARL EMIL FRANZOS ALS MITTLER ZWISCHEN DEN KULTUREN, co-edited by Amy-Diana Colin, E. V. Kotowski and A. D. Ludewig. Among the contributors are Andrei Corbea-Hoisie, Marianne Hirsch, Jong-Dae Lim, S. P. Scheichl, and Leo Spitzer. Hildesheim, Zurich, New York: Olms Verlag (MMZ-publication in cooperation with the series Humanities for Human Rights, City for the Cultures of Peace), 2007.

PAUL CELAN – EDITH SILBERMANN: ZEUGNISSE EINER FREUNDSCHAFT. GEDICHTE, BRIEFE, LEBENSERINNERUNGEN, co-edited by Amy-Diana Colin and Edith Silbermann. Munich: Fink Verlag, 2010.

JÜDISCHES STÄDTEBILD: CZERNOWITZ, ed. Andrei Corbea. Frankfurt/Main: Jüdischer Verlag, 2000.

EUROPA ERLESEN: CZERNOWITZ, ed. Peter Rychlo. Klagenfurt: Wieser, 2004.
Marianne Hirsch, Leo Spitzer: THE GHOSTS OF HOME: THE AFTERLIFE OF CZERNOWITZ IN JEWISH MEMORY AND HISTORY. Berkeley: California University Press, 2010.

Rubin Udler, THE DARK YEARS: REMINISCENCES OF A SURVIVOR. Pittsburgh, Chisinau, 2005.

Images of Czernowitz





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Pictures of Czernowitz: #1, Panorama of the city, #2 Herrn-Gasse in Czernowitz, #4 Picture of the Czernowitz University © Copyright Sergij Osatschuk;
#3 Picture of a Street in Czernowitzer, 2000 © Copyright Helmut Kusdat;
#5, # 6, Historical Pictures: Postcards with the former Residence of the Greek-Orthodox Bishop, # 5 (today the Czernowitz University) and with the Theater, #6; postcards from the collection of I. Snihur, I. Czechowskij, E. Kasparides; re-repint based on an idea by Sergij Osatschuk, Czernowitz 1999.