constantine

Moldova Trip 3

Testimonies:

Constantine, born in 1933, was one of the witnesses of this makeshift transit camp: “One summer night, the soldiers took to fencing up an empty field with barbed wire. The villagers could not understand what for. The following day, a column of hundreds of Jews were brought in and locked up behind that fence. Theyhad to sleep in open air. There were women and children as well as men in that camp.

I would go and throw some bread at them from outside the camp, over the gate. A small river flew across the camp. Several pregnant women gave birth to babies, laid them down in improvised plant-made cradles, and let them flow down the river. I myself saw one of those cradles. A military policeman also saw it, and shot the baby dead.

A Yahad team went to Moldova for their third investigation of the country. The special aspect of this team was the participation of Roma investigators and translators, who had been specially trained by Yahad for research in Moldova, where the official language is Romanian. Over the course of this third trip, Yahad interviewed 45 witnesses and identified 26 execution sites, 16 of which did not have a memorial.

Places

  • Districts of Edinet, Soroca and Balti.
  • Investigated towns/villages: Hincauti, Cepeleuti, Fantana Alba, Edinet, Parcova, Scaieni, Zabriceni, Burnalesti, Valcinet, Verejeni, Soroca, Plop, Riscani, Zaicaini, Turgul Vertujeni, Hirtop, Echimauti, Vadul Rascov, Stoliceni, Sofrincani, Rublenita, Zgurita, Tarigrad.

Historical Background

The region, which was historically called “Bessarabia,” was under Soviet administration from 1940 until June 1941, when it fell under Romanian control. The investigated area is the region where, among others, Dizengoff (the first mayor of Tel Aviv) and Mendel Portugali (an emblematic figure of Poalei Tsion) were born.

It is reckoned that in 1941, some 300,000 Jews lived on the Moldavian territory (including Bukovine). According to historians, 150,000 of them were deported to Transnistria (today’s regions of Odessa, Vinnitsya and Mykolaiv in Ukraine). Only 50,000 of these people survived the deportation. Thousands of Gypsies living on the soil of present-day Moldova were also deported to Transnistria after 1941.

Moreover, the estimates are that 10,000 Jews were shot dead immediately by Romanian forces and Einsatzgruppen between June and September 1941.

Prior to investigations on the field, scant information was available to Yahad: Soviet archives (of investigations led just after the war), and Romanian archives (of the Romanian secret services), but no German archives.

Key Findings

  • Yahad led investigations on the shootings and the pits for deported Jewish victims along the roads of Moldova. What emerges from this research is that a great many shootings and burial places are not mentioned in the studied archives.
  • Some of the tens of thousands of Jews deported from present-day Moldova by the Romanians were detained in some kind of transit camp. They stayed there for several weeks, without food or water, in terribly unhygienic conditions.
  • Yahad’s researchers found Gypsies deported from Bessarabia to Transnistria in Soroca, a town with an important Gypsy population. According to the surviving Roms who could be interviewed, Bessarabia Gypsies called themselves Catunerea or Satra, in order to differentiate themselves from Gypsies living in Romania.

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