Friday, January 16, 2015

All Dressed Up for a Picture--100 Years Ago.

Anna Romanchuk and friend, Minneapolis, MN

Stephen and John Koshuba, 1916

John and Joseph Koshuba, holding their boater hats.

John and Joseph, dressed to go on the town,St Paul MN

Walter Koshuba, 1918, St Paul, MN

William and Mollie Karbovsky, 1910, Peoria, IL

Marya Klak, 1912, New York City

Pauline and John Koshuba, all dressed up, St Paul, MN.

Peter Noznick, 1917, New York City

Koshuba children, Fred, Katherine and Marie, St Paul, MN

Fanny, Jacob, Rose and Eva Monkovski, Chicago, IL

Fanny Monkovski and Abe Center, Chicago, IL

Pauline  Koshuba and baby Walter, 1917, St Paul MN

Anna and Pauline Rychly, 1915, Minneapolis, MN

Anna Koshuba, 1916, Minneapolis

Anna Rychly, John Romanchuk, Pauline Koshuba, Julie and Walter Koshuba, St Paul MN. 

Dave, Philip and Rose Gerstein 1913, Chicago IL

Florence and Joseph Koshuba 1914 St Paul MN,  

Fanny Monkovski, Wasosz, Poland

Walter Koshuba, 1919 St Paul MN

Peter Noznick, 1918, New York City
Pauline Koshuba, Anna Rychly with Walter and Julie Koshuba, St Paul MN, 1919

Friday, January 9, 2015

Happening Now! Ukrainian Christmas

Wood cut of carolers. Source: Infoukes
The holiday season is in full swing in Ukraine.  Christmas Day was January 7, according to the Julian Calendar, which is followed by both Orthodox and Ukrainian Catholics. New Year's is celebrated on January 14.  The season continues until January 18, the celebration of the Epiphany.    Then, winter sets in.   Many Ukrainians greet each other on Christmas with the saying "Krystos narodyvsa," which means "Christ is born," and answer with "Slavimo yeho,"  "Let us praise Him".   The  Christmas holiday is more religious than the celebrations in the United States, but its roots go back into pagan times.
Caroling is an important part of the Christmas celebration.  Villages and city, all are full of caroling.  Some cities, like Lviv have parades of carolers, carrying symbols of the holiday.

Christmas parade in Lviv, Ukraine.
Musician playing the tsymbaly, accordion and violin in Beatlya, Ukraine

The carolers are groups of people who go from house to house, a little like trick or treating in the United States, they ask for treats, but the have to perform in order to get them.  There are at least three members in a caroling group.  One carries the star, which is mounted on a pole.  One is the bag carrier, who collects the treats and gifts,  and one is dressed as a goat.  Often there are musicians playing the violin, tsymbaly (hammered dulcimer) and in some areas a traditional long horn. 

Carolers knock on the window of a house, asking permission to come in and sing.

The groups approaches a house, knocks and ask permission to sing.  After they come in, they sing for each member of the household.  Then the put on a skit featuring the goat.  The goat, a symbol of fertility, has pagan origins.  In the skit, the goat dies and then is revived, symbolizing the end of winter and the coming of spring.  The carolers finish up by reciting short poems, wishing each member of the household a good holiday.  Gifts are given, and they proceed to the next house.

Christmas carolers, from an old Christmas card.
There are two types of  Christmas carols in Ukraine, Koliadky, which are sung on Christmas eve and Christmas day, and shchedrivky are sung on the Epiphany.  Koliadky and shchedrivky are the oldest carols. "The Carol of the Bells" is a shchedrivka, originally about the end of winter, with wishes for a prosperous new year. In these ancient carols, pagan elements have been replaced by Christian themes.  Other carols are about Ukrainian history, especially the princes of Kiev, who lived in the 9th and 10th century.  Read more about the Carol of the Bells

Christmas Carolers, painting by Oleksandr Leschenko
The holiday celebration continue into the new year.  New year's eve and New Years day celebrate Malanka, the Feast of St Melania.  Her story is reenacted in many Ukrainian villages.  It is also the Feast of St Basil.

Malanka in Vaskivtsi, in the Bukovina region of Ukraine.
In the United States and Canada, Malanka is celebrated like New Year's Eve.

The holidays end with the Epiphany or Jordan. This holiday commemorates the baptism of Jesus Christ in the Jordan River.  People attend church and bring home small containers of holy water, which they keep in their homes for the next year.
Epiphany observances in Kiev, Ukraine.  Source: The Guardian.

Some Ukrainians believe that a dip in  icy river on The Epiphany prevents illness.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Kristallnacht: One Boy's Story--An Education Lost and Found

The Klepper Family, Ottilie, Manfred, Charlotte, Moritz

Nothing was going well in Mehring for the Klepper family. Mehring was the home of the Klepper family, a village on the Mosel River, near the city of Trier in western Germany. The Klepper’s, Ottile and Moritz, their children, Charlotte and Manfred were Jewish with deep roots in the Mosel region.  They ran a general store in the village, a business once owned by Ottille’s first husband. He fought for Germany and was wounded in World War I, but that meant nothing to the Nazi controlled government that ran Mehring.  It took the Klepper’s home and store so the family moved into a building owned by Otillie’s parents in Trier.  

Merhring (in red) is on the Mosel River, in western Germany

Ever since Hitler and the Nazi Party gained control of the government in 1933, everyday life was getting more and more difficult for the Jewish people of Germany. The Great Depression caused serious world wide economic problems, which lead to the election that gave control of the government of Germany to the Nazi party in 1933.  Democracy ended in Germany when Hitler became Chancellor.  Germany was divided into districts, each one headed by a person appointed by and responsible only to Hitler.

Changes came quickly. In 1933, the owners of the Kaufhaus Hass, a fashion house in Trier, Albert and Max Haas, were taken into “protective custody” and later jailed.  Members of the Communist and Social Democratic political parties were arrested and tortured. Jewish businesses were boycotted and Jewish children were harassed in school. The goal of Gustav Simon, the Nazi appointed director of Trier, was to make the area a model of the Nazi state. In 1937 Hitler visited Trier, the name of the square around the Porta Nigra, built by the Romans, was changed from the Porta Nigra Platz to the Adolph Hilter Platz.  By then all Catholic youth organizations were banned and Jewish children were not allowed in public schools. By November of 1938, all Jewish owned businesses were “aryanized.”  The local police were replaced by the SS and Gestapo, members of the Nazi Party; the SS wearing brown shirts, the Gestapo wearing blue.

Nazi Rally in Trier, 1937

Jewish families began to leave Trier, when the Nazis came to power, some moved to Holland, others left for the United States.  Otille’s sister and brother-in-law left for Chicago in 1935.  It was getting harder and harder for Jews to get exit papers from the German government and difficult to get residence visas from foreign governments. After a long wait, Otilie’s parents and sister got their papers and left Trier for the United States in 1938.  The Kleppers had applied for exit visas and permits to immigrate to the United States, but nothing had worked out yet.

Manfred Klepper turned six in November 1938.  He should have been in school, but no Jewish children were allowed in public school.  Synagogues stepped in and expanded their religious schools to teach Jewish children regular school subjects.  This ended on November 9, 1938, the first day of the Kristallnacht, “The Night of the Broken Glass.”  After that, it was  too dangerous to leave the house.  Manfred’s mother left only to visit the City Hall to check on the status of the family’s exit papers. His father Moritz disappeared. All the shopping and errands were taken care of by Anna, the family housekeeper.  She became their link to the outside world.
Read Manfred's eye witness story of the Kristallnacht

News off the Kristallnacht in the Cincinnati Enquirer, Nov, 1938

 A small school with only three pupils was started in the Klepper home. Ottilie and the woman upstairs who lived upstairs were the teachers, with assistance from the Sisters from the convent behind their house.  The Sisters gave the assignments to Anna and came over at night to teach reading, writing and math.  They brought books for the children to read, textbooks and school supplies.  When the assignments were completed, Anna took them over to the convent to be marked.  This continued for a year, until 1940 when the Klepper’s exit papers finally came through and they were able to leave Germany. By the end of that year, Manfred could read and write German and had mastered the basics of math.