The Jewish past of the city
Before the beginning of the Second World War, Chernivtsi had an unofficial name—”Yudenshtadt,” the Jewish city. Of the 120,000 population, 50,000 were Jews.
At the end of the nineteenth century, there was the largest synagogue in Eastern Europe, an important religious and cultural city center. There were two attempts to destroy it, but it survived—twice. In July 1941, Romanian troops set fire to it inside—as ideological allies of Germany. And the Soviet authorities tried to explode it in 1955—because the destruction or depreciation of religious monuments was part of the state policy of the USSR. But they managed to demolish only the dome. They recognized that the building could not be defeated—they just waved their hands and turned it into a cinema.
In Chernivtsi, there is also the largest Jewish cemetery in Europe. The area is more than 14 hectares, and almost 50 thousand representatives of the Jewish community are buried there. In the depths is a mass grave from the time of the Holocaust. And here we should mention another phenomenon—Chernivtsi bunkers, former passage yards between buildings and entrances of residential buildings in the old part of the city. It was here that non-Jewish residents of Chernivtsi hid Jews. Ukrainians have always been able to unite in the face of a common enemy.