Camps and Ghettos in Bessarabia

Chronological Order of the Events

June 21, 1941 - November 10, 1941

The Minister of the Interior, in the name of General Antonescu, orders the internment of Jews from the area between the Siret and the Prut. All healthy Jewish men between the age of 16 and 60 are to be interned to the camp of Targu-Jiu, women and children to the towns.

The evacuation took place among barbaric conditions. Jews had to leave their wealth behind within a few hours (in Dorohoi beside the Siret within 2 hours), they were allowed to bring as much as they could carry on their back during a ten-kilometre walk. In cattle freight carriages crowded to suffocation - sometimes these were even sealed - they were wandering about for days in the end-of-July heat without being able to get food, get out to relieve nature or look after patients.

After the evacuation of Jews, the authorities and local inhabitants completely robbed the ownerless houses, they took everything: goods, furniture, household equipment. They carried away the wealth of one or more generations until the last chair or pillow, in certain places even the [266] doors and windows, and the tin from the roofs. Not even cemeteries were safe from the angry looting or demolition.

In territories which were later affected by deportations (Southern Bucovina and Dorohoi county) Jews were evacuated from the following places:

From the county town of Dorohoi almost every Jewish men between the ages of 18 and 60, as well as the leaders of the community were interned to camps of Targu-Jiu and Craiova.

From Darabani (Dorohoi county) the entire Jewish community, old people, women, children, even the disabled (about 2,000 people) were interned to camps of Oltenia (men to Targu-Jiu, women to Calafat).

From Siveni, Mihuleni, Ridiuti (Dorohoi county) the entire Jewish community (about 4,000 people) were evacuated; some men to the camp of Tirgu-Jiu, the other men, women and children to Dorohoi.

June 30, 1941

The Ministry of Interior orders to acquire Jewish hostages from each town in Moldova and Bucovina. They are to be shot dead in case of rebellion or terrorist acts. He also orders the internment of Jewish men from Jewish districts, mostly to schools or bigger buildings; guards are ordered next to them to punish them if they attempt to cause disturbances.

[267] There was a curfew for Jews between 20.00 and 7.00 hours.

In certain places (Dorohoi, Radauti) military authorities order Jews to wear a yellow star.

July 3, 1941

Mihai Antonescu, Deputy President of the Council of Ministers, holds a secret meeting with the administrative clerks and military judges who are to be sent to Bessarabia and Bucovina. In the directives and rules issued this time, great emphasis is put on the strict and implacable attitude the authorities must display against Jews in these territories. Later all these were published in a leaflet, with the remarkable chapter called Ethnic and Political Cleansing. The directives urge for wild pogroms, and also contain concrete actions to be taken; internments to ghettos and deportations beyond the Dniester could be considered as the latter.

July 3, 1941

The attacks commence in the entire Rumanian section of the front, from Ceremus to the Danube. At the same time starts the robbery of Jewish wealth, and the ghastly massacring of Jews wherever the Rumanian army moves forward. Those who survive the massacres are collected in local, temporary camps.


July 5, 1941

The camp in Storojinetis divided into two parts: women and children are locked into the building of the elementary school, men into the orphanage which is two kilometres away from the town; food is not provided, there is no medical service.

July 18, 194

During a meeting of the Council of Ministers, Ion Antonescu arouses for hatred and announces his intention to have all Jews from Bessarabia and Bucovina to be deported.

July 8, 1941

Colonel Meculescu, Commander of the Gendarmerie Inspectorate in Kishinev, orders - among other things - the identification and arrest every Jew in the villages of Bessarabia, irrespective of their sex and age.

July 10, 1941

The Jewish marching column of Banila arrives to Storojinet. Their number is swollen up by Jews from the villages they passed through (Iadova, Berhomet, Panca, Cires). In Storojinet a camp is created in the synagogue, where 2,500 [269] people are crowded. The guards torture their victims all the time, especially Lieutenant-Colonel Alexandrescu, Commander of the Draft (Recruiting) Centre, who beats Jews with his own hands, and rouses the citizens for looting and murder. He also forces people to work hard, although they have nothing else to eat but grass because he forbids them to leave the camp to get some food.

July 18, 1941

The Highest Military Judge of the army goes for a supervising tour in Balti county. In this county, where 31,965 Jews had been indicated by the latest national census, and where their number must have been increased by natural population growth and the migrations of 1940, at the time of the control, there are not more than 3,481 Jews in three camps. Supposedly, there are 5,000 more of them in the county.

July 20, 1941

The Jews from Storojinet, who had been locked into the school and the orphanage, are collected into a ghetto consisting of two streets. The houses there had been completely robbed. Strict measures are introduced in the ghetto. Jews are obliged to wear a yellow star and there is a curfew at 1900 hours. They can provide themselves with food only after 10.00 hours.


July 24, 1941

Jews taken from villages of Northern-Bucovina (Briceni, Chelminet, Babin, Trinca, Carjauti, Ianeuti etc.) - approx. 25,000 people - are collected in Coslar, and then are driven across the Dniester.

July 24, 1941

Jews who survived the massacres in Kishinev - approx. 11,000 people - are driven out of their homes, to a square which is surrounded by soldiers holding machine guns ready to shoot. Jews are mocked and pestered all day. In the evening they are allowed to occupy the houses on the southern side of the square. The ghetto is locked, guarded so as no one can leave it.

July 27, 1941

The ghetto in Kishinev is limited to a few streets; they are in a district ruined by the bombardment so no house remained intact. Most of them do not have doors or windows. The latest national census in Kishinev indicated 50,603 Jews. Their number must have been increased by natural population growth and the migrations of 1940, at least as much as it was decreased by the escapes in the first days of the war. Yet, by this time there are only 10,311 left.

[271] In each room there are 25-30-40 people crowded together. They are not allowed to leave the ghetto even to get some food. They are the targets of abuse of soldiers and guards. It is especially the officers who insult them, for whom visiting the ghetto is the funniest thing.

August 1, 1941

The Jews who survived the massacre in Hotin are driven towards east. The escorting soldiers and premilitaries torture them on the way; in Romancauti they order a resting time so as to rape girls and women.

August 2, 1941

Bessarabian Jews, who had been taken across the Dniester or scattered about in the Ukraine, were collected again in Moghilau. From there they are sent to Scazinet.

Approx. 4,000 are missing from the 25,000 people taken across the Dniester; they were killed by hunger, misery and the bullets of soldiers.


August 6, 1941

Jews from Bessarabia and Bucovina are collected in Atachi, on the bank of the Dniester. First Jews from Noua Sulita and Storojinet arrive there. In the river, at the right bank of which they are taking a rest, more and more corpses of Jews are drifted by on the water. The Germans do not allow them to enter the Ukraine, therefore the Jews are forced back to Secureni.

August 19, 1941

It is announced that the area between the Dniester and Bug (Transnistria) falls under Rumanian administration, except for Odessa and its surroundings. At this time the Soviet troops are still in Odessa and will keep it for the next two months.

Teacher Gh. Alexianu is appointed governor of Transnistria.

August 19, 1941

The first news of the terrible misery of Bessarabian and Bucovinian Jews living in camps of Secureni and Edineti, arrive in Bucharest. The Union of the Jewish Community would like to aid them, but all their attempts fail. Their request handed in the Ministry of Interior is refused saying that only the Presidium of the State Council can decide in [273] this issue. When their request is handed in there, too, they are given no reply. The General Headquarters replies very indecisively to their second request, without providing for a solution.

August 30, 1941

Colonel Al. Rioasnu, governor of Bucovina died due to an unsuccessful (medical) operation in Chernovitz. He had been in office for only six months. During this time obediently but at the same time thoughtfully carried out Antonescu's orders. The massacres in Bucovina had been organised before his appointment. General Corneliu Calotescu was appointed to be his successor.

August 31, 1941

The setting up of Jewish camps in Bessarabia has been completed. There are 8,941 Jews in the three camps in Balti county, and 22,969 in Vertujeni, Soroca county. Although no official reports mention it, there might be approx. 10,000 Jews more in the same county, in Marculesti.


September 1, 1941

In Hotin county, which administratively belongs to the Governorship of Bucovina, there are 12,248 Jews in the camp of Edineti, and 10,201 in the camp of Secureni.

September 2, 1941

General Ion Topor, Highest Military Tribunal of the army, orders the Gendarmerie Inspectorate of Transnistria to start preparations to the deportation of Jews in the camps, to beyond the Dniester. The deportation starts on September 6, and the Jews will be taken in groups of 1,000 through the crossing-places of Criuleni-Karantin and Rezina-Rabnita.

September 5, 1941

The 2nd Territorial Headquarters orders the Union of the Jewish Community to collect and hand over to the military authorities 5,000 complete civilian clothing (suits, overcoats, shoes, hats, shirts, underwear, socks); these will be given to Jews in camps and ghettos of Bessarabia.

Note: Although the command was entirely fulfilled, even overfulfilled, due to a special rule announced later, the naked and barefoot Jews of Bessarabia and Transnistria did not get any of them.


September 11, 1941

The circumstances in the three big Bessarabian Jewish camps (Secureni, Edineti, Vertujeni) are appalling.

In Edineti, more than 12,000 people are located in five streets, 2,500 people in 26 peasant houses. Most of the interned Jews were from around Storojinet, which they left with a sack on the back, and what they had brought was either used up by themselves during the several weeks of the transportation, or were taken away. They were not able to pay 10 lei for a loaf of bread; all they bread got stale in the warehouse of the camp, but they were not given to the starving people. Most of the Jews were barefoot. Many of them almost naked. Some wrapped themselves into newspaper or brown paper. Although all were exhausted by the long journey, hunger and misery, they were forced to work. The guards, gendarmes and premilitaries were mocking them while they were working.

The most terrible camp is located in Vertujeni. Here Colonel Agapie and Captains Buradescu and Radulescu are the lords. More than 20,000 people are crowded in a place which would not be enough for one tenth of them. There is no roof on most of the houses, because the tin was removed by the order of Colonel Agapie to make holders for lard and soap. The Jews were fatigued by the two months of wandering on both sides of the Dniester. They have nothing to be sold because everything was taken away from them on the way or in the camp. Despite their poverty, they have to pay 2 lei for each person who leaves the camp to get some food for them. They can hardly obtain water because they have [276] to queue for hours at the few wells of the camp. They have to do hard and useless jobs, for instance pave the camp with stones brought from the Dniester, while starving, tortured, and beaten. Captains Buradescu and Radulescu, monsters of the camp, rape Jewish girls and women. Several dozens of people die every day due to misery, starvation, thirst and pains suffered.

September 20, 1941

Typhoid breaks out in the camp of Edineti. The commander of the camp threatens to shoot every Jew dead if the epidemic spreads on.

October 20, 1941

From the beginning of the month the camp of Marculesti acts as a collecting camp for those Jewish deportee groups which are to be taken across the Dniester at the crossing place of Rezina. In fact the camp in Marculesti was created for the purpose of looting and torturing.

Both looting and torture were directed by Colonel Vasile Agapie, commander of the camp, whose helpers were Captains Buradescu and Radulescu as well as Ion Mihailescu, a supervisor of the National Bank, who was sent there to exchange the rubles into lei, and to pay cash for the valuables. All of them walked in the camp equipped with sticks and pistols, and tortured everybody who they met, men, women, old people, the sick etc. Many people were [277] beaten up by them so much that they died a few days later. Their subordinates and the gendarmes acted in the same fashion, beating their victims with anger similar to that of their commanders.

The Jews were deprived of all they rescued from the previous hell with the pretext of duty payment and foreign exchange. Everything was stolen around their hands: pieces of clothes, underwear, money (lei and foreign cash) jewellery (rings were pulled off the fingers by wringing them, earrings were torn out of the ears along with pieces of flesh), pillows and covers, cutlery, and even baby prams. Documents and identity cards of the deportees were confiscated and torn.

Due to starvation, misery and beating an enormous number of people died in the camp, where corpses were lying everywhere: in cellars, ditches, yards etc.

Every day a marching column of 2-3,000 people were set off from the camp to cross the Dniester at Rezina.

October 31, 1941

The deportation of Jews from the ghetto of Kishinev continued during the whole month. In rain, then in the early coming wintry weather, a marching column of 700-1,000 was started almost every day on the highway of Orhei. The deportees were mocked and beaten by the gendarmes all the way. Sometimes the marching columns were stopped so that the gendarmes or the peasants could rob the Jews. The peasants got into the habit of hiding in the corn-fields to wait [278] for the prisoner-transports to attack and rob them. Those who lagged behind out of exhaustion, were shot dead.

There was constant terror, panic and hopelessness in the ghetto. Several people went mad, others committed suicide. The rest tried to insist on staying alive at any cost.

November 8, 1941

The deportation of Jews from the camps of Vertujeni, Secureni and Edineti had ended. All survivors were taken across the Dniester, most of them were scattered near Atachi, in Moghilau county.

The deportations from the camp in Marculesti continue. After they cross the Dniester near Rabnita, the deportees are driven towards the Bug, to Balta and Tulcin counties.

November 20, 1941

The deportation from Marculesti of Jews collected from the camps of Bessarabia has come to an end. Only a few trains still come from Bucovina. It is requested that trains should not be directed to Marculesti any longer.



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