A LOST HISTORY. Trochenbrod was a bustling commercial center of more than 5,000 people, all Jews, that was hidden deep in the forest in northwest Ukraine. Its isolation allowed it to thrive as a tiny Jewish kingdom unnoticed and unknown to most people, even though it was “the big city” for surrounding Ukrainian and Polish villages. The people of Trochenbrod were slaughtered in the Holocaust. Nothing remained of this vibrant 130 year-old town but a double row of trees and bushes in a clearing in the forest.



The Heavens Are Empty: Discovering the Lost Town of Trochenbrod tells the story of the life and death of one of the most unusual but unknown shtetls in Eastern Europe. An imagined Trochenbrod was the setting for Jonathan Safran Foer’s novel and movie, Everything is Illuminated.

Top photo: Trochenbrod’s post office. The non-Jewish postmistress brought in by the Polish government is standing in the doorway; her name is Janina Lubinsky. The building to the left is Eli Potash’s leather workshop. You can see a part of Eli standing on the workshop steps.


Middle photo: Ryszard, Janina’s son, stands with his friend Bassia-Ruchel, Eli’s daughter, in Trochenbrod’s street.

The site of Trochenbrod today

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