This small volume is an important addition to contemporary Jewish travel literature. Omer Bartov has undertaken to document what remains today of dozens of towns in formerly Polish Eastern Galicia, which is now Western Ukraine, where Jews once comprised substantial minorities and even outright majorities in each market town and city. It is a region rich in Jewish cultural and religious history, home to many branches of the Hasidic movement and the birthplace of such varied figures as the Hebrew and Yiddish author Shmuel Yosef Agnon and the Warsaw Ghetto historian Emanuel Ringlbaum.
Bartov writes with clarity and palpable outrage, as he describes the pattern he found repeated almost everywhere: Virtually all traces of the Jews and their history have been erased as the local Ukrainians have undertaken to create a historical narrative of their own that does not concede any significant role to the Jews, who were once a major component in the region’s urban life. This book is an often brilliant and impassioned response to the annihilation from memory of the last traces of the Jews who lived for generations in the Ukraine. It is a valuable book both about the destruction of the past and an attempt to preserve memory into the future. Bibliography, index, maps, photographs.