Wednesday, February 25, 2004


This last couple of days have been really hard. I really don’t know what I am supposed to do about this new information about where I am living. I mean, I am starting to add this information into everything I think and feel about Tatyana and Pinsk and Belarus. It’s not good.

I have been going through a lot of books and looking at a lot of pictures about Pinsk and what the place was like before the war. I really don’t know exactly what I am thinking and feeling right now. Apparently it was just this normal little market town. They had some churches, a big synagogue. They had factories and shops and private businesses. They had a bustling little central market and kind of cool fish trade at the water, down the hill from the market place where the boats from the villages would come up on shore and people could buy directly from the fishermen. They had sports grounds and movie theatres and a stage…

And the Nazis came in and turned the whole town into a provisional factory for the German war machine. And, at the same time, they systematically beat, robbed, tortured, Ghettoized and then slaughtered all of the Jews in the town and in all of the surrounding villages. And then they burned most of all what was left when their war with Russia and the European and American forces was lost.

After that, the place was rebuilt under the hand of Stalinist Russia into a more Soviet positive model. And yea, they re-built over the cemeteries and the locations of the Ghettoes just like they did in Warsaw. And yea, I am living in one of those houses.

Tatyana and I was talking about her family last night. Her mom came to Pinsk to be with her dad, he having accepted a job here in Pinsk after the war. His original apartment was across the street, but he moved into the house we are in now a few years before he met Tanya’s mother.

He says he remembers two such circumstances where his neighbors found some money buried in the ground while they were building up their garden. One of these fellows turned the money over to the state, the other keeping the found money for himself. There was a small sneer on the face when the second fellow was mentioned, he obviously the lesser communist.

They don’t mention whether or not they knew where that money came from. It’s more than a touchy subject. The Soviet Union of course did not like religion in general, but also had a particular dislike for Jews. Everybody knows this. And the anti-Semitism does still exist here. I saw this in the first days I was here in some graffiti I saw down by where I like to fish: There was a picture of a Star of David being hung from a yardarm. The implication was plain enough.

I have always felt though that I myself have been treated fairly well here. Nothing like what had happened in Poland had ever happened to me here. I have suffered no abuse form the police, no false accusations. I have not had a lot of stupid attention paid to me- by this I mean I don’t feel as if I have ever been a joke in the town. I will admit that I have in the past gotten some extra looks but it was more for my being an American here, which is thought of, due particularly to the vast differences in the economic situations to be rather foolish. But for the most part I think I have been treated rather well by all concerned save maybe the theatre trying to get some money off of me. But I suppose that would be pretty understandable- I mean, they do that to everyone. Terrible group. But no, I have been treated quite well here. nd if there has been no money, well, it is not like I am any wose off than any one around me. Know what I mean?

But I don’t know what I am supposed to do about this. I only have a couple of weeks left on my visa. And I really don’t know what is the right thing to do right now. And no, the choice is not only a problem because I now know that I am living in a house built on the ashes and screams and blood of my people. But this is a part of it.

I am just so tired. I’m tired all the time. I just want to sleep away my days right now. I don’t want to write or play music- I don’t even want to ride my bike or laugh with people. I feel sick and it just never gets any better. And there is simply just no end to any of this…ever…

But at the same time, I am thinking: What was the thought process here when they were all walled in and starving to death?

“If I charge the electric fence I die! If I try to smuggle food in, I die. If I run away, they kill my whole family. If I fight back they kill my whole family…”