Sunday, 8 April 2012

Repentance.

We have found the most amazing place to have breakfast, EVER! It's elegant, chic, stylish and the complete opposite of our current hotel. Our current hotel is a little box with no windows and the nosiest teenage neighbours EVER. Damn kids!


We are going to film some shots for the documentary today and after that we are going to see the sights of Odessa. It is so important that we actually spend time in the cities that we are visiting, they all have so much more to offer than just Holocaust research. Although it is quite weird strolling down a lovely street where five thousand people were hanged. We mentioned this strange feeling in a previous post (you can do the detective work to find out which one). Although many of these cities are beautiful (and it is important that we that we see them for what they are today) we have come specifically to learn about their connection to the Holocaust.

We do think that it is possible to enjoy a modern city despite learning about the murder of hundreds of thousands of people that once took place there, on one condition. If we get the impression (not that we are judge, jury and executioner) that the cities (and its inhabitants) have not repented, seen the light and made a switch then it makes us feel uncomfortable. We have really enjoyed our time being tourists in Odessa (despite spending three quarters of it lost) but we don't necessarily feel totally comfortable being Jewish in Odessa. Ukraine has made effort to stamp out prejudice and bigotry (towards some groups, not all) but the impression we get by talking to people is that it still is prevalent. We saw a group of young religious Jewish boys walking yesterday and they seemed pretty scared and as if they were trying to keep their heads down as much as possible. Of course, they may just have been shy and not afraid of anti-Semitism but having learnt some of the history and knowing the strength of political and classic anti-Semitism here, we would bet that they probably were. We also know that there has been next to no effort made to stamp out the rampant homophobia found here. LGBT people are not specifically protected under the Ukrainian constitution, meaning there is no such thing as an LGBT hate crime.

It is perhaps unsurprising that prejudice is so strong in this part of the world when so many of the local populations were so instrumental in collaborating with the Nazis and Romanian forces. Nevertheless, like we are asking all of you to do, countries like Ukraine do need to take a look inside themselves and really examine what part they play and played in the story of prejudice. We know that that may not happen for many years, we just think it's a damn shame that they still haven't learnt.

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