Arriving bleary-eyed after a long flight from Washington, we were whisked off to a village close (after an obligatory re-charge at McDonalds). As soon as we entered, it became clear that we were in a time warp: the pace of life here was infinitely slower, electricity was sparse, running water was in existent and commercialisation had yet to hit rural Moldova (unsurprisingly). Not that any of these things are criticisms- the quiet life no doubt has its appeal and we spoke afterwards that it would be rather appealing to live it.
Finding the witness was akin to a police operation, and a rather exciting one.
Speaking to the witness, an 80 year old gentlemen, it was remarkable how crystal clear his memory was. As he vividly recounted the division of the village at the hands of the right wing nationalist party, spurred on by the Nazis, barely a detail escaped his recollection.
Noticing his well-toiled hands, you could tell that he had been exposed to the elements himself. It is impossible to fathom truly the extent of the purging of the Jews: numbers are just statistics which are beyond comprehension and the time period makes it almost unrelatable. However, it wasn’t until we went to the Jewish cemetery, perched on a hill in the outskirts of the village that the size of the Jewish community (dating back 500 years) became evident: tombstones were strewn everywhere. And in a bitter irony: a group of Ukrainian children were playing ontop of the graves around a fire. If only they knew what their grandparents had done here 70 years ago; sadly, though, the Moldovan education system does not encompass teachings about the Holocaust. Perhaps ignorance is bliss.