Monday, 17 October 2011

Trebic Jewish Quarter

After our visit to Slavonice and the 1938 bunkers (see previous post) my husband and I drove to Trebic, where we stayed in the old Jewish quarter. The quarter is now on the UNESCO World Heritage list, being one of the few well-preserved Jewish gettos left in Europe. Through my tourism business (see column right) I am fortunate to have discovered a wonderful hotel in a building which dates back to the 17th century. The hotel must be unique in having an ancient Jewish ritual bath (mikveh) in its basement. 

Having offloaded our bags in our room, we went for a walk around the quarter. The first place we visited was the Jewish cemetery, which sits on the hill above the Jewish quarter. There are over 3000 gravestones (we didn't count them) set on a steep slope and thousands more unmarked graves. You see two memorials as you enter the cemetery - the first is a large memorial to the men of the community who gave their lives in World War 1 (presumably fighting on the side of the Germans), the second a simple memorial to the 290 Jews who were victims of the Nazis. In the museum in the old synagogue you can see a list of their names. Family names appear on both.
The one hundred and twenty three houses and two synagogues of the Jewish quarter are squashed on to a slope between the river and the hill along two roads which go nowhere, but are linked by alleyways, some of which go through the houses. Now relatively quiet, the area would once have been vibrant and noisy, full of industry and a large Jewish population (1500 in 1890). The Jewish community was already in decline by the 1930s, but as the gravestones tell noone was left after 1945. It is a remarkably atmospheric place, as yet undiscovered by tourists. As we walked the empty streets back to the hotel in the falling dusk, the ghosts of the past walked beside us.

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