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Icons of a bygone era, the symbols of the Soviet Union, Sevastopol, Ukraine

Many central and eastern European countries are the result of wars, treaties and alliances formed over the centuries since the fall of the Roman Empire. When the former Union of Soviet Socialist Republics disintegrated in 1991, Ukraine declared itself free and independent. Despite such declarations, remnants of the old history die hard, as the symbols above suggest. Sevastopol was the main naval base for the Soviet Navy in the Black Sea, and remains an important naval base today.

The second city we visited is Yalta, site of the famous meeting between Soviet Premier Joseph Stalin, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, and US President Franklin Roosevelt, which took place very near the end of World War II.

While on our way to the meeting place, we passed this most unusual church

A jewel on the mountainside. Russian Orthodox Church, Yalta, Ukraine

Nestled in a pine forest, what appears as a small church is really quite a large edifice. The majority of the structure is down below the mountain top, so cleverly placed within its environment that you could easily miss this place if you blinked while driving past.

But it is neither Yalta nor Sevastopol that stays in my mind. The place I shall never forget is Odessa.

Holocaust Memorial at the end of the "Alley of Religious Gentiles"

At the time of the Nazi invasion of the Ukraine, there were approximately 500,000 Jews living in Odessa. In late 1941, the occupying troops began to "cleanse" the city of Jews, forcing them into concentration camps hastily set up in the countryside around Odessa. In February, 1942, the city was declared to be "Judenrein", Jew free.

Soviet troops returned to Odessa in April, 1944. It is estimated that at the time of liberation, there were at most only a few thousand Jews living there.

Holocaust Memorial, Odessa, Ukraine

This memorial, engraved in both Hebrew and Russian, is for the souls of those men, women, and children who did not return, that they should not be forgotten.





Have you checked the most important parts of our website? We urge you to go to the Chapter on Essential Plans. Then, whether they apply to you or not, read the Chapters Airlines, Cruises, Hotels, Taxis, Tours. Finally, be sure you read the Chapter Items to Take. The information in these chapters will make all the difference in the success of your trip.