THERE HAD BEEN A PRISON in Lutsk. A concentration camp actually. I waited a month before you would take me there. A razed courtyard. To the left the Nazis had set up a theatre. Films for the children on Sundays. Your aunt went one weekend against her mothers wishes. On that day, after the doors were shut, the soldiers made their way down the aisles. Your aunt hid beneath a pile of coats. The only child to escape. All the rest were herded onto trucks and taken across the border to Auschwitz.
I watch your breath come out in frosted bursts. We are standing outside a small Orthodox church at the edge of a broken city. Feeble old women, heads covered in shawls, line up outside the doors. Above the altar I can see one small glimmer of light. The arm of the Savior carved above a marble terrace. His hammered fist.
Eugenia was in the fifth Peace Corps group to go to the Urkraine a group of 70 business teachers and 70 English teachers who were the first PCVs to work in rural areas of the country.
Eugenia was assigned to teach at a secondary school in a village in the west of the country. Being in the west, she studied the Ukrainian language and not Russian. She taught 2nd to 11th form in the school of 300 students. Her secondary project was teaching at summer camps throughout the Ukraine.
Her village of Solonka was 20 minutes by bus from Lviv, one of the most Nationalistic areas of Ukraine, where Ukrainian is spoken and used in schools. This area of the country had previously been a part of Poland. In fact, Lviv and Krakow, Poland had at one time been sister cities. Lviv has some of the most amazing architecture to be found in Europe and Hitler had forbidden Lviv to be bombed during World War II because of its ancient Prussian heritage.