The Nizkor Project

50 Years of Silence

History and Voices
of the Tragedy in Romania and Transnistria

The Dorohoi Pogrom
July 1, 1940

This pogrom took place under the monarchical dictatorship of King Carol II. Although we mention a specific date in July, in fact, the atrocities continued until September.

In the morning of July 1 1940, the Jews of Dorohoi were faced with unusual occurrences in the city. They found the letter "C" scrawled on some houses. Other houses displayed religious icons in the windows, attesting that they were inhabited by Christians. Those findings caused considerable panic within the Jewish population.

July 1 was also the day when the burial of a Jewish soldier and a Romanian officer were to take place. The circumstances of their deaths were as follows: At the end of June, in the little town of Herta [Hertsa], near Dorohoi, there was a confrontation between a Russian soldier and a Romanian officer. Without hesitation, the Russian drew his revolver and aimed at Captain Boros, a native of Bacau. Realizing the impending danger, a soldier standing beside the Captain abruptly jumped between them, shielding the Romanian officer with his body. Undisturbed by this act, the Russian fired his gun and killed both the Romanian soldier and the officer. A subsequent inquiry by the military authorities identified the soldier as Iancu Solomon, a Jew.

Burial services were organized for Captain Boros in the Christian cemetery, and for Iancu Solomon in the Jewish cemetery. Proper military honours were organized for both victims. The 8th Artillery Regiment sent a group of Jewish soldiers under the command of Warrant Officer Emil Bercovici to the Jewish burial ceremony.

Although the Jewish population was frightened by the identification of buildings with Christian residents, a large number of the Dorohoi Jews attended Iancu Solomon's burial service. The ceremony took place on July 1, at 2:00 p.m.

The honour company was just leaving the cemetery, when the soldiers of the 3rd Grenadier Regiment surrounded the Jewish soldiers and ordered them, at gunpoint, to take off their military uniforms. Then, the Jewish soldiers were lined up by the cemetery fence and executed. After these brutal murders, a soldier from the 3rd Grenadier Regiment placed a machine gun in the hands of the lifeless body of Warrant Officer Emil Bercovici, and called on witnesses "to confirm that the Jew had opened fire on the Romanian army." Then, a group of soldiers entered the cemetery, pushed open the doors of the mausoleum, where a terrified group of Jews was hiding, and dragged them outside onto the Valea Cimpului Highway. There, the entire group, including a two and a seven-year-old child was raked with machine gun fire. An old man of eighty-eight, who remained alive after the hail of bullets, was killed by blows to his head from rifle butts. Thus, fifty-three Jews were killed. Only a few succeeded in escaping.

At the same time, a pogrom was unleashed in the city proper. Civilians and soldiers broke into and plundered many Jewish homes. Incidents of unspeakable cruelty took place in the city. Avram Calmanovici died as a result of having his genitals cut off. The mob entered the home of an elderly couple, Eli and Feiga Riezel. The woman's ears were cut off so that her earrings could be stolen. Then, the couple was shot. Herscu Ionas, a ninety-four-year-old man, had the hairs of his beard pulled out before he was shot. Trucks full of soldiers raced through the streets firing their machine guns at Jewish homes. Finally, a torrential rain dispersed the mob, abruptly ending the carnage.

With unimaginable cruelty, Major Valeriu Carp ordered two of his Jewish soldiers to participate in the execution of Jews. Since both soldiers were originally from the local area, they knew many who were going to be murdered. Furthermore, in his brutal perversity, Major Carp decided to provide to his daughter an opportunity for "amusement". He set up a machine-gun, and she personally participated in the massacre. That same day, the slaughter extended to many villages around Dorohoi.. When Major Carp's unit arrived in the village of Zaharesti [Zahareshti], there was only one Jew left there. That was because earlier, other soldiers had gathered the Jews from the neighbouring villages of Vorniceni [Vornicheni], Ilisesti [Elisheshti], Vicov, Banila and Zaharesti. A total of thirty-six Jews were gathered. They were tortured mercilessly; some had their fingers cut off; others had their tongues cut out; still others were beaten, and the women were raped. Finally, they were herded into a ditch and shot to death. Only one of them escaped. The savagery committed by the soldiers encouraged bands of peasants to also take part in the pillaging and killing.

In the commune of Serbauti [Sherbauts], Smil Getler's house was broken into by Warrant Officer Bujica [Boogica], the chief of the gendarmerie. He was accompanied by a local peasant, Hapinciuc [Hapinchiook]. The Getlers and their visitor, Leib Ellenbogen, were in the house at the time. All three were shot, and the house was plundered. In the commune of Comanesti [Comaneshti], Rabbi Leib Schechter, his two sons, and his wife (who was praying at the time) were also shot by looters.

Yet, in this time of madness, there were also incidents of humanity. It is worth mentioning Captain Stino of the 24th Infantry Regiment, who ensured that the Jewish soldiers in his unit were not killed. General Sanatescu and Colonel Ilasievici [Elasyevich] acted similarly.

In August 1940, when the Jews were finally expelled from the armed forces, they were stripped of their uniforms and dismissed, wearing old rags which had been left behind in military storehouses. On their way home, they were easily identified as "dishonoured Jewish soldiers", and on some of the trains, they were beaten and thrown out from the windows of the moving trains.

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