STONES TO CZERNOWITZ
For the dead and the living we must bear witness. For not only are we responsible for the memories of the dead, we are also responsible for what we are doing with those memories— Elie Wiesel
“Who is the greatest rescuer of Jews
from the Holocaust, that you never heard of?
Dr. Traian Popovici was the Mayor of the town of Czernowitz which was part of Romania at the beginning of World War II. Through shear intellectual acumen and courage, he rescued 19,600 Jews from deportation to a fascist killing field known as Transnistria. In 1969 he was honored by Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Israel, as being among the Righteous Among Nations for his heroic actions. Yet inexplicably very few people have ever heard of Traian Popovici.
Dr. Radu Ioanid, Director of International Archival Programs at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC says that Popovici is “unique in the history of the European Holocaust.” Click onto our Movie to know more about this amazing humanitarian.
Rescuer of Jews
Stones to Czernowitz (Finding Gustav)
This is the story of a woman, Ilana, whose passion was to find out what happened to her Grandfather after WWII. Her grandfather’s name was Gustav Gedaly. Gustav, and his wife Regina, and daughter, Victoria (Ilana’s mother) were rescued from the Holocaust thanks to the actions of Dr. Popovici. Unfortunately, Gustav was deported to Siberia by the Soviets never to be seen by his family again. Ilana promised her mother that she would find out why.
In 2009, Ilana and her family traveled to Czernowitz, now part of the Ukraine, to attend a plaque unveiling in honor of Popovici. She also searched Soviet era archives and found evidence that Gustav was wrongly accused of being an enemy of the Soviet State.
The group also found the graves of their ancestors in a cemetery in Czernowitz that was overgrown and abandoned. It is the largest intact Jewish cemetery in eastern Europe. Coincidentally, Ilana’s husband’s family had immigrated from Czernowitz at the turn of the 19th into the 20th century. He found of grave of his great -great grandfather a few hundred yards from the graves of his wife’s ancestors. This amazing coincidence is helping to tell the stories of Traian Popovici and Gustav Gedaly.