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THE 500 HRIVNYA

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  • HARDY BREIER
    The 500 Hrivnya Czernowitz 1946: It is noon on a beautiful day in March. It is after classes and I walk home from school. I turn into the Neuweltstrasse and go
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 8 1:47 AM
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      The 500 Hrivnya

      Czernowitz 1946:
      It is noon on a beautiful day in March.
      It is after classes and I walk home from school.
      I turn into the Neuweltstrasse and go downhill.
      Soon I'll turn into the Herrengasse on the left and
      then down the Armenergasse which will lead me home.
      Coming up the street , facing me, comes a strange
      boy ,seemingly Ukrainean whom I never met before .
      He is taller than me by a head and wears a black
      jacket.
      As he is now in front of me he raises his hands and
      starts beating me up.
      I didn't have a chance . His punches were hard and
      all went to my face.
      I started bleeding from my mouth and my face was a
      mess .
      Satisfied with his job and without uttering a word
      he goes away.
      Why ?

      Czernowitz 2006.
      It is 60 years since.
      I am here with the Reunion and visit my old school.
      It stands there unchanged . The ghosts of teacher Stanger
      and Metre Kapeliuch still roam the classrooms.
      Full of nostalgia I leave the school and start walking the
      old way home.
      I turn into the Neuweltstrasse and start the way downhill.
      Coming up the street comes a man , an old man.
      As he comes closer I can see his face.
      Can it be ? Is it him ?
      The same face , older of course ,but this is" him".
      No ,not this time , now I'm ready.
      The Cheremosh keyholder in my pocket is hard and heavy.
      I clutch it in my hand and as I pass him I hit him
      hard in the ribs.
      The man bends over and groans.
      I also want him to know what this is about.
      "Remember fortysix!" I shout.
      "Nagady sorokshesty!"
      You cannot beat up Jews for free anymore..

      "Bukovina Novosty- Chernivtsi Daily Newspaper"
      May 20, 2006 Trivia section:
      Brutal assault.
      Today a local citizen, Ivan Hudnarenko aged 78, was brutally assaulted while walking
      peacefully on his way home.
      The assault took place at 11 o'clock on Shevchenko street and the assailant was an
      Israeli tourist attending the Reunion of the Czernowitz Jewish old time residents.
      The tourist was fined 500 Hrivnya and ordered to leave Ukraina..

      Next day
      I am in the car that takes me to the border.
      I haven't slept all night - how could I do a thing like this?
      I tell the driver to stop at the City Hospital where Ivan is
      interned , I buy some flowers an find his ward.
      I stand by his bed and ask his forgiveness for my brutal
      behaviour . Ivan takes a look at me and says :"Never mind,
      but tell me , than ,in'46 did you wear a white "kutshma" hat?
      Did you wear a brown coat and a red shawl? YES?
      It was me alright ! I beat you up ! In church they said that
      all Jews were leaving and if you wanted to beat up a Jew you
      better do it now".
      I stood there speechless.
      "Olga ," he says " give the man back his 500 Hrivnya,
      my testimony to the police was all lies".
      "You had every right to hit me ,I had it coming."

      As I leave the hospital with the 500 Hryvnia still in
      my hand ,I am approached by the usual bunch of old women beggars with
      their hand extended asking for alms.
      The nearest is a very old wretch ,who hardly can move.
      I take the 500 Hryvnia and push them into her hand.
      She opens her mouth and utters something close to a moan
      then she drops to her knees crossing herself.
      She has seen an angel .
      I get into the waiting car and leave for good
      Hardy



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