50 Years of Silence
History and Voices
of the Tragedy in Romania and Transnistria
Deportations From Bucovina, Bessarabia, Dorohoi
Other Areas in Romania
Romania joined Germany in the invasion of the
Soviet Union launched on June 22, 1941. This
campaign was called "Operation Barbarossa".
Later that year, the Germans conquered south-
western Ukraine. This territory was put under
Romanian administration and it was called
Transnistria, meaning "beyond the River
Who Was Deported?
The decision taken by Marshal Antonescu to
deport the Jews from Bessarabia and Bucovina
was based on his allegations that the Jewish
population was collaborating with the Soviets
during 1940-1941, when these territories were
ceded to the Soviet Union.
"It should be added in this context that the
Jews from southern Bucovina and from the
Dorohoi district, which had been included in
the deportations, could not, by any stretch of
imagination, be accused of giving a warm
welcome to the occupying Soviet forces in 1940,
because these areas had remained under Romanian
sovereignty throughout the period in
question."<16> There were several waves of
Jewish deportations from Romania to
Transnistria, most of them occurred in 1941,
and some in 1942. In the fall of 1941, Romania
began mass deportations of its Jews to
Transnistria from Bucovina, Bessarabia, and the
In The Atlas of the Holocaust, the historian
Sir Martin Gilbert states that in total 329,213
Jews were deported over a period of two years.
In 1940, seeking refuge from the Nazis,
some Jews of Bessarabian origin who had settled
over time in other parts of Romania strived to
return to this Soviet occupied territory. In
order to obtain the necessary permits to return
to their birthplaces in Bessarabia, they had to
submit applications to the Soviet Embassy in
Bucharest. In 1941, after Romania allied
itself with Nazi Germany, the Soviet Embassy
was disbanded. Unfortunately, those
applications were found by the Romanian
authorities in one of the offices. All 598
Jews, who had submitted these applications,
were arrested and deported to Transnistria as
Soviet spies. They were sent to Mostovoi, a
village in the district of Berezovca. Upon
their arrival they were rounded up by a group
of Sonderkommando comprised of Volksdeutsche,
marched to the military quarters in Rastadt,
ten kilometres away from Mostovoi, and shot.
The execution took place the night before Yom
Kippur<17> 1942. Of the 598 people only sixteen
Between May 1943 and March 1944, a Labour
Detachment consisting of Jews from the Old
Romanian Kingdom and Transylvania was taken to
Transnistria for slave labour projects. This
unit called 'Detachment 120 Balta' consisted
of 1,400 Jewish men. Most of their labour
projects involved cutting wood in the forests
and farming. The unit was headed by Colonel
Patrascoiu [Pytryshkoyoo]. The only reward for
their hard labour was a meagre ration of food.
"The officers of this detachment took sadistic
pleasure in grossly abusing these men. After
the war, the Popular Tribunal of Bucharest
court-martialled and condemned many of these
officers for abominable war crimes"<18>.
In September 1942, 212 Bucharest Jews,
entire families amongst them, were deported to
Transnistria for "disciplinary reasons". They
were accused of failing to report to the site
of a forced labour project. This was obviously
a pretext, since children, women and the aged,
who were not required to be at the work site,
were also deported. One month later, an
additional 72 young men were added to this
How Was It Done?
The Jews targeted for mass deportation were
forcibly gathered at local train stations,
clubbed, beaten, trampled, and shoved into over-
crowded cattle cars. For many days and nights,
long trains criss-crossed the railroads of
Romania. Many deportees died on these trains.
They perished from hunger, thirst, suffocation
and panic, long before the trains reached their
destination - the shores of the river Dniester.
The dead bodies were periodically thrown out
along the railroad tracks. Local peasants who
coveted their clothes quickly stripped the
bodies. Some of the trains stood on sidings
for many days. Others travelled back and forth
in what seemed to be an aimless journey.
However, ultimately they all reached their
final deadly destination - the river.
Those who survived the "journey" arrived at the
western shore of the River Dniester. Beyond the
river lay the killing fields of Transnistria!
"The Romanians established five crossing points
along the river:
Moghilev Podolsk (Ukraine)
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