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Romeo and Juliet in Zhytomyr words

    Zhytomyr has been known for its wonderful landscapes, history and peculiar culture for a long time. Many historians, statesmen, great artists and national heroes were born in this region. This truly multinational region has been and remains very prolific in talent, perhaps because this great “boiler” successfully melted educated, cultural and multifaceted people in the word, those who later glorified Ukraine as the European nation with a high culture.
    Zhytomyr Love Story by the Sculptor Bruno Zack
    Thus, it is not coincidence that on May 6, 1891, a talented sculptor, Bruno Zack, was born on this gracious land, in the German colony of Mykhaylivka, located near Zhytomyr. Not far from the settlement, there was a former manor house, and there lived for many years the mother of the writer, the daughter of a German settler - Teresia Shmunk. The Father of Bruno - Dietfrid, worked as a carpenter and repaired wheeled carts, and also skillfully carved wooden figures and possibly young Bruno was inherited from him the attraction to the art of sculpture. Teresia is an original, but illiterate woman (literacy she studied when Bruno joined the Academy to write to her son and read his letters) was naturally endowed with a sharp mind, but with a severe character, although she was also a person, not deprived of talent: she masterfully mastered art of home textiles and embroidery. The impressions of childhood and youth have had a great influence on the formation of Bruno Zack as a sculptor. The boundless expanses of Zhytomyr Polissya, green along the shores of Teteriv and fragile Zhytomyr beauties, have entered into his heart forever. Children’s toys, games, covered with lush grass on the streets of a small village with native peers - settlers and Ukrainian boys and girls growing among mature gardens and meadows - that atmosphere that surrounded Bruno childhood and where he breathed and grew. But the real drama was waiting for the future artist in Zhytomyr, to the center of which, the Zacks moved in 1903, in connection with the beginning of his father’s service as a clerk at the enterprise of the Zhytomyr merchant Landi. In Zhytomyr, still there was a house, where the Zacks rented an apartment on the street Mykhaylivska, and then Bruno went to the Second Male Gymnasium, as soon as the family settled in a new place. The family was quite wealthy and influential in the German ethnic environment in the Zhytomyr region, on Sunday they all went to Kirchy, located in 5 Kotsiubynskoho Street. The parents have already started to dream that their son would enter a commercial school until he became a wealthy entrepreneur. But Bruno already at that time felt another vocation - art! He was particularly inspired by charming women of Zhytomyr, fragile silhouettes, which the sculptor embodied in bronze and marble later on. Special relations were associated with a young high school student with the Ukrainian girl Yefrosyniia or as he himself called her Fro-Fro, who lived near the family of the Austrian colonists. Her parents forbade Frosia “walking with the Germans”, although the relationships that bound the sculptor and young Zhytomyr woman were far from the current understanding of flirtation. The young people were head over heels in love with, Bruno used to secretly steal into the windows of the Fro-Fro house, and they talked for hours with each other. Everything is like in the women’s novel, innocent kisses, and evening dates. Bruno wanted so much that Yefrosyniia studied and once without permission took 50 rubles from the parental cash desk (the amount that is equal then the annual tuition at college), gave the money to the gymnasium where his beloved wanted to study. The deed was worthy and there was a scandal that Bruno and Frosia had experienced very dramatically even tried to escape from home. The attempt turned out to be unsuccessful, that deed became known to the neighbors, and the Puritan brought up parents of a beloved couple punished both by separation - Frosia was sent to her relatives to the Kyiv region, and Bruno - to Austria. But the lovers did not intend to forget each other; they daily corresponded across borders and distances. Bruno sent postcards to his beloved with views of Vienna and sketches of his sculptures. In 1907, the Zacks suddenly moved to Vienna because there was a favorable job offer for both the parents and how they felt in their historical homeland Bruno can best be realized as a businessman.
    Separation is not an obstacle for love …
    Upset Frosia returned to Zhytomyr and life without Bruno was already too difficult for her - the memories of youthful love with a beautiful German oppressed her. After an unsuccessful attempt to get a job she left for life from Zhytomyr to Poltava, where she studied at the Mari Women’s Gymnasium in a pedagogical class, after which she was engaged in teaching work. Subsequently, at the insistence of the parents who requested to forget “that German”, she married the son of wealthy peasants - Fedot Hryhorenko, and in September 1914 she gave birth to a wonderful daughter named Marfa. Subsequently, the family moved to the village Velyka Sultanivka, Vasylkivsk district, from where the husband’s family came from, but Frosia’s Zhytomyr love - Bruno has forever settled in her heart.
    Bruno did not forget his chuckle either, who already built an artistic career in Austria. He becomes a very fashionable sculptor, studies at the Vienna Academy of Arts, in outstanding sculptors - Hans Bitterlich (1860-1949) and Joseph Muller (1879-1968). Bruno Zack has always been in a creative search - his styles range from Art Deco, Modern to Orientalism. But he achieved particular success in erotic sculptures. His bronze sexy women, as a rule, were made in silver-brown bronze forms, he used exotic materials to emphasize the grace and beauty of his sculptures - ivory, silver ... His works were bought by the richest collectors and museums in Europe, in particular his clients were the most famous Art dealer firms of Austria of that time: Argentor-Werke, Broma Companie, S. Altmann and Company, and Franz Bergmann and others.
    Moreover, the success, secular “hang-outs” could not darken his Fro-Fro in the eyes of Bruno Zack, all his life he remembered the love of his Ukrainian youth - his erotic sculptures usually differed from the “restrained” art deco of that time in Austria, by their sexy, and dreamy, mysterious forms. His personal life has not happened: women, as they say of “easy behavior” that - often - at the same time became and his models and lovers could not replace his lovely Ukrainian.
    Lonely date
    But the real highlight of our romantic history is that Bruno and Frosia still met once more, in the city of their youth - Zhytomyr. During this difficult period, the First World War was already approaching Europe. Austria - Hungary and the Russian Empire are still in the Diplomatic conflict. 24-year-old Bruno Zack throws his studies and wrote a favorite letter going to Lviv, and then travelled dawk to Kyiv, there, in January 1914, they met with Fro-Fro for the last time. She was already married and human gossip may prevent from romantic date, but she came to him, and together they go to Zhytomyr, to the city of his youth, where in 20 Pushkinska Street a friend of Bruno’s youth lived- Wilbert he sheltered the young couple and they had a wonderful week together. Bruno fashioned from wax and took its image with him to Vienna ... They have not seen each other anymore… Much time later, when in Ukraine there was a civil war and Vasylkiv was occupied by the Austrian and Hungarian troops, their friend - Wilbert already in the rank of an Austrian officer, unexpectedly appeared on the porch of Frosia, he brought her a beautiful image of the lady, embodied in the bronze. The lady was conveniently in a luxurious chair and looked like Vienna “Fraulein” but in its cold metal figure and face, you could unmistakably guess Fro-Fro ... So ended the romantic love story of Bruno and Frosia, grandmother Yefrosyniia told her granddaughter about it, so the love story of the great sculptor and a simple Ukrainian girl Frosia has become known, and all the rest “do not speak, but keep silent and sigh”...
    P.S. The author thanks sincerely the great granddaughter of Yefrosyniia Fedorivna Hryhorenko – Olena Hmeliuk for the provided materials and photos.

Publication of 08 18, 2017.

Supported by Eurasia Foundation Supported by Eurasia Foundation

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