Ivan P. born in 1917. (A Gagauz man)
“In my village, the mayor was Romanian. He was a very mean and cruel man who hit people for the smallest reason. At the beginning of the war, a Jewish family was terrorized by the police chief. The girls were raped for two consecutive weeks. During this time, their house was guarded by Romanian gendarmes. They couldn’t leave their house nor receive those who were there. The village administration knew about the situation but never reacted. Finally, the girls and their father hung themselves in their own barn. Their bodies were discovered by town hall employees and buried by the villagers.
I saw the villagers bring the bodies from the barn in a wagon. They were thrown in the wagon like tree trunks. The girls were in their twenties. After the suicide, their house was taken by the town hall.
I remember that one day all the villagers received the order to go to the church. There, the priest made everyone kiss the cross and the icons. If someone refused, he was brought to the police station just before the end of mass or he was beaten with a baton for two or three hours. Then, he was released. That was done in order to convert all the villagers to Christianity.
After the war, the priest and the gendarmes were tried and deported.”
During their 5th research trip in Moldova, the Yahad-In Unum team investigated in 2 different regions. The first part of the research trip was conducted in the south of the country, in the Gagauz region of “Comrat-Cahul.”
Over 14 days in the region, Yahad-In Unum interviewed 35 witnesses and identified 14 common graves of Jews, without monuments.
- Regions of Cahul and Bălţi
- Taraklia, Kopceak ,Kaïraclia, Seliste, Sarateni, Pascani, Lapusna, Macaresi, Cristeti, Ceader-Lunga, Basarabeasca, Besghioz, Cahul, Baïmaclia.
“The Gagauz people are a Turcophone population, largely Russianized and culturally distinct from the Turks; they are Christian-Orthodox and their language is very close to spoken Turkish in Anatolia, but it is filled with Bulgarian and Romanian words.
The Gagauz count for 82.5% of the population; the rest are Bulgarians and Moldovans.”
During this first week of research, in the Gagauz region, the Yahad team gathered the following information:
- Understanding who the Gagauz are: culture, religion, etc. Various humiliations of the Gagauz by the Romanian soldiers, by the priest and by the mayor.
- Soviet occupation before and after the war: deportation of the koulaks, deportation of the Romanian collaborators. Creation of the kolkhozes.
- Jewish life before the war.
- The round-ups, internments, forced labor, looting of goods, deportations and shootings of Jews during World War II.
- The sedentary and nomadic Gypsy life before the war.
- Deportation of the Gypsies during World War II.
- The famine after the war