|Some people come up to us-obviously, this is an unusual event in the
village. A woman tells us that the nearby road and houses along the river is the area
where the Jewish section used to be. Where there are some industrial buildings on the main
road we are told used to be the site of the Jewish stores A man who lives in one of the
houses tells us that his mother told him that on the site of their garden there had been
six Jewish houses before the war.
His 94-year-old mother is sitting outside the house. Iryna tries to ask her if she remembers any Jewish families, but she is senile.
The man takes us back into the garden along behind his house. He points out a chestnut tree that is supposed to be very old. I cannot judge the age of chestnut trees, but I would like to think it was around 90 years ago.
If there were 6 houses in this garden they were small, but it is not implausible. Of course, we have no way of knowing if this was the same pre-WWI. Back on the road, the cows are coming home from the field, accompanied by a horse-drawn cart. As the cows reach their homes they peel off from the herd.
We continue on down the road. Most of the houses are rather dilapidated and seem to have been constructed haphazardly. Windows are often sealed with plastic. There are electric lines and some TV antennas. I assume no indoor plumbing. It is clearly a poor area (though other areas of Kolki seem a bit more modern). While the houses are "new" there is a feeling that life has not changed significantly in many years-though I would like to think that when this was a Jewish district it was more well kept up. At the end of the road is a path between two gardens to the river which is identified by the locals as a very old path.
Back in the center of town we stop at the library-I am hoping there may be some archival material-but it is closed. We wander around the polyclinic which is on the site of the old Jewish cemetery. There is not a single piece of evidence that there was a cemetery there, although the town cemetery is across the street which is logical.
There is a church that is supposed to be 300 years old. It is in excellent condition. It is not clear whether this was rebuilt after the war or actually survived through the wars somehow and was merely renovated. Also in the center of town is a dusty lot that serves as the local bus station and market. The market consists of just a few stalls.
It was getting late so we didn't stop to look-something I regret. There is also a monument in the center to the "Republic of Kolki."
Iryna is not sure what this means. The best guess is that during the war, as the Nazis were retreating, militias sprang up in various places to fight the Soviets for an independent Ukraine. It is possible that during a brief power vacuum there was a self-declared independence in the area. Although these militias were anti-Soviet, they were apparently anti-Semitic as well and some may have helped kill the Jews.
I suggested getting something to eat since it was now late in the afternoon, but of course there is nothing in Kolki-no café, bakery, store, anything. So we drive back to Lutsk for a late lunch before continuing on to Lviv.
Enjoy the photos.