Hershel Vider grew up with three brothers. He attended cheder and spoke with his parents in Hungarian and with his grandparents in Yiddish. As an adolescent, he was involved in Zionist movements, such as Betar and Hashomer Hatzair. During the war, he was imprisoned in a Russian labor camp in Vorkuta,Russia, from which he was released in 1946. He was married in a traditional wedding in 1949.

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Coming Home

Mukacheve, Ukraine

Hershel's brother only spent three days in Mukacheve, after his return in May 1945. It was a common phenomenon among Transcarpathian Jewish returnees to leave the region, as soon as they came to know that no one from their family survived. In addition to this, the new Soviet rule was also a good reason for people to leave.

Hershel, however, did not have a choice, as he points out in this clip. He was sent to a gulag in 1940, after being accused of spying. Hershel was only released in 1946 and was forced to reside in Transcarpathia. The Soviet border was sealed after December 31, 1945.

The dwindling postwar population in Transcarpathia was connected with two emigration waves; immediately after World War II and in the 1970s. There were, however, a number of Jewish migrants from other parts of Ukraine, as well as Russia, that enriched local populations.

The prospects for a Jewish life in Transcarpathia after World War II looked grim. Over seventy percent of the prewar population was killed in Auschwitz, many died during forced labor or death marches, as well as in ghettos. The majority that managed to survive the war ended up leaving Transcarpathia.

Yet, a few thousand Jews came back and stayed. They rebuilt communities and fostered an active religious practice vis-à-vis persecution. As a result, we can find revived traditional communities in many towns, especially Mukacheve. Hershel remembers in this clip, how he helped baking matzos at a Romanian migrant’s home.