Happy International Women’s Day! The moment I stepped into the airport I was offered a white tulip. Thinking that they were trying to sell it to me, I declined. It was only later that I found out that in Moldova, women receive free flowers on International Women’s Day.
After that initial cultural faux pas, we arrived at a very small rural village to meet our first witness. The roads were all dirt and completely uneven. Our witness was an old man. He was a very nice man who wore brown fur hats with flaps, and he and brushed off the chicken dropping off the picnic tables for the students to sit at.
One thing that struck me about his testimony was that the main source of terror towards Jews during the Holocaust came from a right wing political party within the village.
The area was split into basically two quarters between those who were Jewish and those who weren’t. The right wing party in the village used propaganda at the early states of WWII, too young to join their organization. This party burned down the Jewish Quarter, which is now completely gone. People from the other part of the area took the stones from the ruins of the Jewish houses.
After Father Desbois was done with questioning the witness, we drove to where the Jewish Cemetery used to be. Now it is just muddy meadow. Slightly up the hill, local boys played ping-pong around a fire. But the fire wasn’t the only thing there; many incredibly old Jewish tombstones with engraved Hebrew writing strewn around. Father Desbois noted the sad irony of the situation.