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[Page 113]

Suceava
(Romania)

47°38' / 26°15'

Translation of chapter
“Suczawa” from Volume II:

Geschichte der Juden in der Bukowina

Edited by: Hugo Gold using information provided by
Dr. N. M. Gelber, Martin Hass, and Dr. Chaim Kupferberg

Published in Tel Aviv, 1962

Translated by:

Jerome Silverbush


This is a translation of the chapter “Suczawa”, Geschichte der Juden in der Bukowina
{History of the Jews in the Bukovina} Editor: Dr. Hugo Gold, using information provided by Dr. N. M. Gelber, Martin Hass,
and Dr. Chaim Kupferberg, Olamenu Publishers, Tel-Aviv, 1962 (German).


At the time of the Austrian occupation of Bukovina in 1774 50 Jewish families lived in Suceava, the former residence city of the Moldavian prince Stefan, that is 203 souls (108 men and 95 women). In 1776, there were 55 Jewish families with 318 souls.

In 1782, General Enzenberg ordered that all Jews who “sneaked” into Bukovina since 1769 who didn't pay over 4 gulden in yearly contributions should be driven out of the state. 31 Jewish families with 92 members were to be deported.

The representatives of the Suceava community[1], Leiser Joell, David Simson and Efroim Moise took an active part in the meetings with the representatives of the Jews from all 13 districts in the State. These meetings took place in Chernivtsi and a petition in the name of the entire Jewish population of Bukovina was sent to the central government in Vienna. The petition demanded that the Jews be allowed to keep a kosher diet, lease land and be allowed to carry on business.

A three person executive committee led the community and was elected every three years by the members of the community in the presence of representatives of the authorities.

In 1778, the budget of the Jewish community of Suceava was 309 Fl. 20 Kreuzer.
The members of the executive committee had a salary.

From the years 1782-1789 we have several documents related to complaints of the Suceava Jews.

  1. The Jew, Aron wants to get back the 10 Ducats he paid for the marriage of his daughter in the Turkish zone of Bukovina.
  2. The Jewess Roise asked for release from the public work she was sentenced to for theft and immediate nullifying of the cordon “condemned man.”
  3. Request by Luca Potoschano, Armenian in Suceava that the Jewess Taubin either pay him 350 florin for the land she purchased from him or return the land.
  4. Hirschel and Schama Wolff, expelled Suceava Jews request that they be allowed to take up residence in Suceava again.
  5. The Jews, Perl, Chaim, Schlomo request that they be allowed to return to the district. They are tailors by profession.
  6. Jew Gutmann from Suceava requests release from farming, similar request by:
  7. Jew Majer.
  8. Mendel Hirschel, Jewish judge in Suceava requests that his son be allowed to return to Suceava.
  9. Mendel Hirschel as judge and the entire Jewish population of Suceava request that they be taken under protection and that all their relatives in the Bukovina district who were expelled are allowed to return.

In spite of all measures by the authorities to prevent the growth of the Jewish population, by 1791 there were 170 Jewish families in Suceava.

In 1786 an attempt was made to force the Jews to take up farming and the Jewish community in Suceava was required to “volunteer” 5 families. The families totaled 12 men, 7 women, 10 boys and 9 girls. They received in addition to 94 Koretz of land, 5 dwellings, 5 stalls and barns, 5 sets of farming implements, 10 horses, 16 oxen and 13 cows.

In 1790, a German Jewish school under the leadership of the teacher Enoch Goldenthal (with a yearly salary of 150 fl.) was opened. Since, according to a community announcement of June 17, 1791, he publicly insulted the Jewish religion, he was very unpopular.

In 1792, a certain Bally was hired as a teacher.

In 1808, there were already 73 Jewish Families in Suceava. This number was large enough to form a community and they elected their leaders, which were confirmed by the local officials.

The chief occupation of the Suceava Jews was the production and serving of brandy, beer and alcohol.

The Bräuhaus in Suceava, property of the Jews Abraham Sachter, Aron Barber and Bauer, took away business from the Christian breweries in Chernivtsi and Suceava causing them to file complaints with the district government and with the brewer's guild stating that the owners didn't have the required “certificate of apprenticeship.”

Actually, in 1802, the Bräuhaus in Suceava was shut down because the owners couldn't produce a certificate of apprenticeship and in addition, they had another business.

It was determined that legally; the Jews could only have a bar in Suceava.

Like all the other Jews in the land, the Suceava Jews suffered under a heavy tax burden. In 1817, there were 272 Jewish families in Suceava and the surrounding communities who had to pay 9, 746 fl. 40 kr. total in “Jew taxes” yearly. Because of the business crisis, the Jews got further and further behind in the payment of taxes.

In the first decades of the XIX century, leading the Suceava Jewish community were the elected members of the board of directors, Hersch Barber, Israel Lenzer, Feiwisch Hattner, Solomon Rohrlich, Juda Kramer and Jossel Bandel and further, the elected elders Aron Huttmann and accountant Abraham Goldhagen for the sister community of Siret.

Although the stay of the religion teacher, Nathan Goldstein was only supposed to be allowed until the end of October 1810, he was still in office in 1821. On September 21, 1821 he was even able to obtain a certificate from the district government office authorizing him to record divorces of Jewish couples when one member of the couple had converted to Christianity. He received a yearly salary of 250 fl. 120 of which came from the community budget and the remaining 130 fl. was contributed by the wealthy members of the community.

The Jewish population in Suceava grew since 1848. At the end of 1880 out of 10,104 residents in Suceava, 3750 were Jewish (37.1%). The number of Jewish school children also grew at an equally fast rate. In the Suceava school district in 1871, there were 28 Jewish boys (3.3%) and 39 girls (12.5%), in 1875: 34 Jewish boys (3.5%) and 40 girls (9.4%) and in 1880: 75 Jewish boys (7.2%) and 282 girls (34.65). In private schools, however in 1871, there were only 10 girls and in 1880: 1 boy and 1 girl. Toward the end of the XIX century the Suceava community had 1 temple and 8 public prayer houses, and also two religion teachers. The community's income at this time was 7329 fl. and the expenses were 7320 fl. Until the religious community law of 1890 the executive committee had 2 members and the community council had 3 members.

Suceava always had a strong Jewish intelligentsia and until Bukovina was annexed to Romania, a large percentage of competent Jewish businessmen, but only a small number of trained craftsmen. The Jewish population played a great, even decisive roll in public life.

In 1901 6787 Jews lived in the city of Suceava and an additional 1500 Jews lived in the Suceava district. In 1914, there were 8000 Jews in Suceava, of whom, however, only 900 were taxpaying members of the Jewish community.

The president of the executive committee at that time was the lawyer Dr. Adolf Finkler and his deputy was Samuel Hellmann. The members of the executive committee were Karl Scherzer, Dr. Leo Bogen who was a lawyer, Dr. Jakob Kraemer who was city doctor and Benzion Fraenkel. Dr. Abraham Loewy served as rabbi, the rabbinical judge was Schulim Moskowicz, the community secretary was Salomon Gottesmann, the religion teacher was Bernhard Fraenkel, the cantor was Abraham Chajtman and the teachers at the Talmud Torah were A. M. Rosenstrauch and Sam. Kupferberg. The yearly income and expenses of the Jewish community at that time were 100,000 Kronen.

The temple in Suceava was built at the beginning of the XIX century. The cornerstone was laid by the Chernivtsi Rabbi, R. Chaim Tyrer, who was called Chaim Czernowitzer. The first cantor was Menasche Mass from Russia. He was among the first Jews who became citizens.

The “Beth Hamidrasch” was built in 1860 by Hersch Langer and Jakob Beer Weidenfeld. The two rabbis Hager and Jankale Moskowitz had their own prayer houses. In the great synagogue, the cantor Spektor officiated, the prayer reader was Srul Awner, a well-known Talmudist. The trustee of the great synagogue was Mendel Eisenberg. Members of the leadership were: Imperial Council, Hermann Beiner who was an active captain in the Austrian army, leather factory owner Salomon Sternlieb, the iron dealer Schaje Langer, Mendl Bogen, Meier Rosenstock, Markus Kahn, Eisik Gruenberg, Alter Gruenberg, Lipa Fraenkel, Feibel Holdengraeber and Hersch David.

The prayer house “Chewrath Thilim” was built by Mosche Matian, the “tailor school” by Eisig Rothkopf, the “Wiznitzer Klaus” by Mordche Tennenhaus, the Sadagurer Klaus by Mordche Leib Safran, Jonas Schwalbach and Wolf Sigal who contributed the land.

The community supported a Talmud Torah whose building was contributed by Itzig and Regine Vogel.

Before the First World War there was a bible school where Grünseid, Moses Rosenstrauch, Kupferberg and Wolf Gerson Langer served as teachers.

The first Jewish organization in Suceava was the “Chowewe Zion”, whose founder Schaje Langer died in Transnistrien. His wife, Charlotte Langer, was founder of the woman's organization, “Ruth,” which carried on significant social and cultural activities.

The Zionist organization “Theodor Herzl,” was founded by Dr. Adolf Gabor who died in Schargorod Transnistrien and Dr. Abraham Schapira who also died in Transnistrien. Schaje Langer and Avrum Aron Tennenbaum were effective members.

The ”Jüdische Gewerbe und Krankenunterstützungsverein”, whose president was Karl Scherzer should also be mentioned here.

As representative of the Suceava Jews, the Physician, Dr. Weidenfeld sat in the Bukovina parliament. Later he was a lecturer at the University in Vienna.

In the city government of Suceava, in 1907/8, the lawyer, Dr. Baruch Schaffer was the first deputy mayor of Suceava and chairman of the Social Democratic party of the Suceava district under whose leadership a sewer system and electricity was installed and second deputy mayor was the lawyer, Dr. Heinrich Rohrlich Horowitz who died in Schargorod of typhus. The Jewish city council members were: estate owner Hersch Sperber, lawyer Dr. Heinrich Lupul, Mosche Sternlieb, physician, Dr. Benjamin Sperber, lawyer Dr. Adolf Gabor, Bernhard Kern, Leon Rothkopf, lawyer Dr. L. Bogen, lawyer Dr. Meir Teich, etc.

For decades R. Mosche Hager served as rabbi in Suceava and Gerschon Stettner served as rabbinical court judge. His court in the “Long Street” was a center for thousands of his Chasidim who came to him out of the neighboring villages of the “Old Kingdom.” Falticeni, Botoschani, Dorohoi, etc. After his death, his son, Chaim Hager followed him in the rabbinate.

No less well known, as a performer of wonders was a woman, the “Schotzer” rebezin. Her son was Rabbi Jankale Moskowicz, a well-known benefactor in the city. He welcomed in his house in the Itzkaner Street every poor person who came to Suceava and provided him with food and money. Thousands of Jews made pilgrimages to the graves of his father and mother, lit candles there and left kwittlach with their wishes. People often came with Torah rolls and prayed by the graves. In memory of the Schotzer rabbi, a schotzer prayer house was erected in Chernivtsi. On July 28, 1914 in the house of the Rabbi Mosche Hager the double wedding of his two oldest daughters was held. It was supposed to last 8 days. On the eighth day, the District Captain, Dr. Korn carrying orders from the Austrian government appeared in the Rabbi's court and gave the official order to cancel the festivities since Austria had declared war against Serbia. The celebration, which thousands of Jews from all parts of Bukovina was, indeed brought to an end.

Already on the same day, the soldiers of the 41st Bukovina Infantry Regiment marched with their band to the railroad station in order to be transported to the front.

Many Jews took refuge in cities to the West, preferably Vienna.

Two years later as most of Bukovina was occupied by the Russians, came thousands of refugees, especially from Chernivtsi to Suceava. They were received and cared for by the Jewish population and community at whose head stood at that time, the estate owner, Hersch Sperber.

As the Russian army approached Suceava, at the orders of the Austrian army command, the bridge over the Suceava River near Itzkany was blown up. The Russians succeeded, however using boats and swimming horses to cross the river to Suceava. They were lead by Colonel Bakunin. The first Cossack unit came from Itzkany. When a Cossack was shot from his horse by Finance Official Hoffman, the Russian general gave the order that as punishment for the murder of a Russian soldier, the entire city should be set in flames. The mayor of the city, Priest Dr. Sarbu, who was a friend of the Jews went with a delegation of citizens of the city to the General and pleaded with him to withdraw his order to destroy the city, because, the residents of the city were not to blame for this murder. The general gave in to the request of the delegation, especially the mayor who was an orthodox priest and so the city was saved from destruction. The name of the murderer was never revealed. The march of the Russian troops through the city toward the Carpathians took weeks.

The Breier brewery, which lay on the Southern border of the city, was transformed into a munitions warehouse by the Russians. The warehouse was sabotaged by Austrian patriots and was blown into the air.

The explosion not only destroyed the brewery, but also did great damage to all the surrounding houses. After the Russian soldiers also occupied all the buildings belonging to the Jewish community, the community council used space in the Gottlieb guesthouse on Main Street.

In the course of the war, the Russians had to leave the city and the Austrian officials returned. After the collapse of the monarchy in 1918, the Jews got along well with the city and district of Suceava, better than they did when the regional capital was Chernivtsi, one reason being that they spoke Romanian and had business contacts with Romania during the time of the Austrian rule. It appeared at first that there would be a “modus vivendi.” Business and commerce flourished, industry developed and the Jewish businessmen profited from the opening of the former border between Austria and Romania. The Jews enjoyed the rights of citizens and were allowed to own real estate. Well known estate owners of the region were: the Fischer family, Max Sommer, Hersch Sperber, Leibuka Barber, Jakob Schaffner, Rudich Israel, Leib Wiznitzer, Bendit and Leon Druckmann. In many rural districts there were Jewish families who were farmers, as in Hatna, Ilisestie, Komanestie, Arbora etc. The most well known representatives of industry were Pinchas Sternlieb (leather goods), Mosche Koerner (tannery), Selig Klüger, the Weitmann brothers (mills), Berl Denker and Mendl Itzig (wholesale bakeries), Isrel Kohn (caned goods factory), Zwerling and Co. (fabric factory), Jakob Roessler and Sons (leather factory in Itzkany), M. Pisen (mills), Moritz Singer (sawmill in Cacica), Haas Brothers (sawmill in Arbora).

Wholesalers and businessmen named in no particular order: Benzion Fuchs & Sons, Selig Klüger & Loebel, M. Segall, Karl Hass, Jakob Sperber & Co., Mosche Schlepper, Schmil Oberwäger, Bune Schapira, N. Holdengraeber, M. Huebner, Leo Anschel, Hermann Beiner, Bernhard Korn, Solomon Brumberg, Alter Lessner, Mary Reicher, Chaim & Josef Ebner, Moses and Pinkas Sternlieb, Benisch Korn, Schaje Kamil, Simon and Max Pollak, Simon Lieb Sternlieb, Tobian and Rubin Sternlieb, Selig Gabor, Leon Glückmann, Arnold Kolber, Berisch Kern, Isak Dickmann, Leon Dickmann, Schwarz & Huebner, Juedel Tennenhaus, Jakob Spiegel, Janku Schmelzer, Sanell Dalfen, Willi Rosenstock, L. Gütter, Salzmann & Schapira, Moshe Aronowitz, Hersch Weissbrod, Max Pollak, Alter Brothers.

Many of the Jews who held city posts under the Austrians retained these jobs under the Romanian government. According to a rewritten law, Jewish applicants were no longer considered for city posts. One remembers names like: Doliu Schachter, Schmelzer, Heinrich Eiben, Siegmund Pilzer (railroad), Haacker, Rattner (district captain), Jakob Hilsenrad (city council), Wagner (finance bureau), Godel, Riezker, Frau Riczker, Ausländer, Frieda Rosenheck (post office), Wagner (police), W. Lenzberg (fire department commander, Engineer Koenig (building inspector), B. Schalet (city council), Moshe Schaechter, Silberbann, Emil Schachter (court official).

Highly respected were the bank directors, Berl Friedmann (Anglobank), Dr. Heinrich Lupul (Ostbank), Samuel Albrecht, Schulem Bessler, Schiefer, P. Orenstein, Elieser Riegler, Schmuel Riegler (Inspector of the Joint Banks), David Hausvater (Hypothekenbank), Noe Hopmayer, Eisenberg, Mann, Dr. Stecher, Pinkas Sternlieb, Selig Sommer and the bank official Marek Haber, Mrs Hammer-Klüger, Z. Guttmann, Matias Schubert, M. Sandberg, Ernst Hass, Frau Strassner.

Honored were the judges, Dr. Förster, Dr. Geller, Dr. Hilsenrad, Dr. Goldenschlag, Dr. Kupferberg, Dr. Lutwak, Dr. Hausvater, Dr. Zentner, Dr. Breier, Dr. Robinsohn, Dr. Loewy (died in Schargorod, Transnistrien).

As in other cities in the formerly Austrian Bukovina, the Jews were represented in the learned professions in much greater numbers then their percentage in the total population would indicate. The lawyers and doctors were almost all Jewish.
The Jewish population founded and supported:

  1. A Hebrew kindergarten under the leadership of Mrs. Bianca Ioles and Mrs. Ettel Karp-Schapira (died in Siberia).
  2. A Talmud Torah school, which was located in a house, donated to the Jewish community by the Vogel family and was under the leadership of Prof. Mueller.
  3. A large library and reading room.

The Zionist movement had a powerful influence on Jewish life. In addition to the normal organizations, “Chowewe Zion” and “Theodor Herzl,” the academic groups “Tikwa” and “Hamadah” were active.

The academic organization, Tikwa was founded before the first Zionist Congress. The founders included: Dr. Josef Ellenbogen (died in London in 1950), Dr. Simon Holdengraeber and Dr. Adolf Gabor (died in Schargorod in 1942), Dr. Meier Teich, Dr. Eric Lupul, Dr. Johann Lupul, Dr. Wilhelm Lupul, Alfons Kraemer, Dr. Adolf Wagner, Engineer Heinrich Grünseit, Dr. Phoebus Tuttnauer, Chaim Gutwald, Dr. Max Schwarz, Dr. Henirich Markowicz, Schaje Becker, Dr. Josef Halpern, Prof. Jancu Gabor, Prof. Nathan Dalfen, Dr. Perez Strominger, Dr. Salomon Wagner and Dr. M. Berger. Besides the previously named members, an incomplete list of other members of Tikwa follows: Alfons Krämer, Fritz Grünseid, Prof. Phillipp Rohrlich, Prof. Brauner brothers, Prof. Dr. Isidor Klüger, Dr. Saul Klüger, Dr. Kalman Tarter, Prof. S. Menkes, Schloime Brueh, Prof. Waldmann, R. A.[2] Lucian Salamowicz, Erich Lessner, R. A. [2] Jean Rammer, R. A. Leib, Dr. Walter Horowitz-Rohrlich, former deputy mayor of Suceava, Dr. Josef Rohrlich, R. A. Nathan Strominger, Dentist Dr. Fuhrer, Dentist Dr. Zwilling, OLGR[3] Dr. Goldschlag, Jakob Katz, RAM. Marek Haber, Dentist Dr. Leon Itzig, R. A. Dr. B. Wagner, R. A. Oswald Weber, Erwin Weber, Dr. Heinrich Markowicz and Dr. M. Berger.

The academic organization Hamadah was founded by Dr. Bruno Harth, the Schiller brothers, Engineer Natan Gabor, N. Kupferberg etc.

In Suceava, there was also a middle school academic organization, Zionia,” founded by Lawyer Nathan Strominger, Richard Lutwak, Lawyer Siegfried Barber, Jakob Goldberg, Rabbi Dr. M. Nussbaum, Schlomo Weissbrod, Erich Lessner, Gustav Sachter, Poldi Sachter and Lawyer Lucian Salamowicz.

Of the remaining Zionist organizations, the following were active:
  1. The “Poale Zion,” among whose founders were Dr. Meier Teich, Josef Beiner, Wizling, Mosche and Max Grünseit, Fischel Tulpan, Leiser Gottlieb, Hersch Vogel and Benjamin Tennenhaus.
  2. The “Zeire Zion” founded by Hersch Kohn, Jeanette Rudich, David Dickmann, Norbert Deutsch, Soniu Kampfer and Eite König-Deutsch.
  3. “Haschomer Hazair” with the Rosch Histadruth Engineer M. Schapira who followed Lasar Grossmann as leader. Further members were Engineer N. Mann, Dr. David Loebel, Miliu Reif, Heinrich Zwilling, Josef Kohn, Dr. Phoebus Kohn, Frau Sali Oberwäger-Auerbach, Frau Sibner-Pistiner, Frau Spiegel-Schapira, Engineer Seew Storper, Engineer Storper, Engineer Wilhelm Storper (all three live today in Paris) Engineer M. Makitwa and Engineer Louis Kahn.
  4. Misrachi
  5. Revisionisten
  6. Zionist Women's Organizations
  7. a) “Wizo” under the leadership of the women: Dr. Teich, Sabine Gottesmann, Jetti Fuch-Koerner, Branka, Isoles.
    b) “Hadassa” under the leadership of Mrs Ernestine Albrecht.

The Social Democratic party, whose members were mostly Jewish, played a remarkable role in the social and cultural life of Jewish craftsmen and store clerks.

Attorney Dr. Baruch Schaffer was chairman of the party Some of the leading members were: Leib Rothkopf, Martin Hass, Eisig Rothkopf, Schmiel Zentner, J. Hilsenrad, Isiu Taien, Berl Denker, Sender Kern, Schloime Freier, Blaustein, Klein, Bernhard Kern who also was the leader of the accountant's organization.

The “Bund” functioned together with the Social Democratic party. It founded the first Jewish worker organization in Suceava. The Bund also had its representative in the sickness fund.

The Bund organized lectures and courses. The Bund worked together with the Social Democratic party in the parliamentary elections, in the community and the community council.

They also shared the “Dr. Jakob Pistiner” library. Further the organizations worked together to give courses in Yiddish on Marxism and the history of the worker's movement.

Some of the leading members of the Bund were: Schmiel Zentner, Berl Denker, Waldmann, Popik, Strominger and Gimpel who died in Transnistrien.

There was an active cultural life in Suceava. Theater troupes from Chernivtsi came often to Suceava. In addition, foreign troupes like the Wilnaer troupe with Dr. Bartoff, the Lodzer troupe, the famous Actor Alexander Moissi, the speaker Grossbart, etc visited the city frequently.

“Poale Zion” had an amateur troupe, which enjoyed special recognition in the city. The organization also had a large library, which was called “Ber Borochow” library.

Also, “Zeire Zion” had a theater troupe and its own library called the “Gordon Library.”

Also, the Jewish amateur theater played an important roll in the battle against assimilation, to which, the Jewish intelligentsia were especially prone. There were several such amateur troupes in Suceava.

The “dramatic section” of the Poale Zion staged many theater performances, which were always well attended by the Jewish population. The actors were: Leon Altkopf, a particularly gifted actor, the ladies Miriam Tennenhaus, Dora Fuchs, Schwartz-Fuhrer, Spiegelschulz, Fraekel-Berkovitz, Alter Beker, etc. Pieces from Scholem Alechem, Perez, Ansky, etc were performed.

The Jewish opera stage was founded by Dr. Wolf Schaerf. In addition to the founder there were the following members: Dr. Liby Schaerf, Kocka Tennenbaum-Goldstein, Ricka Barber (Wischnitzer) (who together with her husband lawyer S. Barber died on the “Struma,”) Frau Tilly Gabor-Goldberg (Tel-Aviv), Ricka Schläffer-Hermann, etc.

Prominent musicians who played in the concerts were: Dr. Josef Halpern, past director or the Jewish Gymnasium in Suceava, Leo Reiner who died in Moghilew, Mrs. Schapira-Sobe and Isidor Kahn who was a well know musician in Bucharest. Also, the well-known music teacher Spielmann, the Zwilling brothers and the musician family Glasser should be mentioned.

As in 1936 under the influence of Nazi Germany the Goga-Cuza regime came to power, a boycott against German films, medicines and all merchandise from Germany was started by Jews. The Jewish pharmacists purchased no drugs from Germany. The theater owners were forced to remove German films from their programs. Even books and magazines from Germany were removed from the library. Jewish doctors didn't prescribe German medicines anymore. The leaders of the boycott were: Dr. Kalman Tarter, Dr. Adolf Gabor, Dr. Abraham Schapira, Martin Hass, Dr. A. Hermann, Dr. Wolf Schaerf, etc.

The Jewish community was changed into a “Jewish peoples community.” The first president of the new Jewish community in Suceava was Chaim Perker. He was followed by Dr. A. Finkler under whose leadership, the “Jewish House” was built. The supervisor of the ritual section at that time was Jakob Samson Schapira.

Dr. Finkler was followed by Samuel Hellmann from Itzkany and then lawyer Dr. Heinrich Lupul and later lawyer Dr. Meier Teich who had the leadership for a long time and was very effective, then lawyer, Dr. Josef Kaufmann followed by Dr. Meier Teich again who was in office until 1941.

In June 1940 the Red army marched into Northern Bukovina and Bessarabia. Those evacuated from North Bukovina, the city offices, the court officials, the church, the university, the police and the army command, the banks, the school inspector's office, etc. came at that time to Suceava like thousands of other Romanian refugees with their families, especially the bureaucracy. The army units, which retreated from Northern Bukovina, were quartered in the neighboring villages and communities.

The officers and soldiers, the officials and the clerics held the Jews responsible that the Russians had invaded the two Romanian provinces, North Bukovina and Bessarabia. Anti-Semitism took on evermore-frightening forms. The murder of Jews was part of the program of the anti-Semitic fanatics.

Many Jews including the farmer Rudich and the businessman Lachs in Costina were murdered. The Jews were expelled from the military. They were put into work battalions, which were mostly under the command of reserve officers. Jews who reported to their work battalion were throw out of the moving train and many were murdered or became crippled. Houses and stores were plundered by the soldiers. Those who resisted were simply shot.

All the protests that the Jews made to the authorities were without success. The police who were supposed to maintain order in the community committed the same outrages as the soldiers.

As in the first days of July, 1941, the war against the Russians started, units of the German army started moving toward the border region near Siret. The troops came from the “Old Kingdom” and Siebenbürgen. Southern Bukovina starting with Suceava became the staging area for the German and Romanian troops. The eradication of the Jews began.

In Suceava, a prison for all Jewish men over 16 years of age was set up in the prayer house of the rabbinic family in the Long Street. This prison camp was under military command. It was dissolved in a short time and 30 to 40 Jewish men were held as hostages in the Beth Hamidrasch prayer house and in the Great Temple. Later, also women were held hostage the hostages, except for anti-Nazis like Martin Haas, Leon Weinisch, Wagner, etc were exchanged every two weeks. These prisons were also under military control.

In addition, German army units that were stationed in Romania came to Suceava. The German officers who lived with Jews or in a Jewish neighborhood, told them that Germany was preparing for war against the Russians and that the “Fuehrer” had decided that at the same time to carry out the “final solution” for the Jews in Europe using German troops and in particular, the “Special Troops,” the SS for the purpose.

The German firm August Dohrman & Co. ,Remscheid, known by the name “Death Group,” built, under contract to the German government in Suceava in the Areni Garden a military hospital, since the city hospital in Suceava was much to small. The Jews were used by the authorities as forced labor on this project. They were also used as forced labor in the railroad tie factory in Itzkany and furthermore in loading of grain intended for German military units in Romania, in the railroad stations Itzkany and Burdujeni.

A short time later the Jews from the rural districts were driven into the city. The Jews from the communities: Kaczika, Solka, Illischeschti, Arbora, Balaczana, Komanesti, Hatna, etc. amounting to several thousand Jews and their families. The Jews from there communities were housed with Jewish families and in the prayer houses. The Jewish community and charitable organizations accomplished wonderful work. As far as it was in their power, they gave the suffering refugees material support.

The fixed Jewish property in the rural districts consisting of houses, land, mills and sawmills including the machinery, worth many millions of dollars was confiscated by the state and later sold or leased to the farmers.

Since September 6, 1940 when General Ion Antonescu together with the “Iron Guard” and with the approval of the Germans, established a government and proclaimed the State of the Legionnaires, the position of the Jews in Romania and especially in Suceava had become every more precarious. Soon followed the removal of Jews from government positions and not much later, the Nuremberg Laws meant to wipe out Jewish business in Romania were enacted.

The German minority in Romania was resettled in Germany. The Suceava Germans who were already organized in military units like the SS, SA, the German Worker's Front, the German Woman's Organization, and the German Girl's Organization left their former home singing. They carried German flags and sang Nazi songs like, “When Jewish Blood Sprays From the Knife and “We March for our Leader, Adolf Hitler.”

The German doctor from Suceava, Feller, poisoned his dog before his left in order to prevent him from falling into Jewish hands.

The rebellion of the “Iron Guard” followed. The parades of the Guard in Suceava became ever more threatening to the resident Jews. They feared pogroms like the one in Bucharest where the Jakob Katz, the musician who came from Suceava was hanged in a slaughterhouse.

Before the outbreak of the war against Russia, the first concentration camps were established in Romania. From Suceava, the Social Democrat Leib Rothkopf, the anti fascists Lina Gropper and Isiu Ruhm, the Zionists David Dickmann, Lazar Kohn, Menache Liquornik, etc. were interned in the camps.

Those interned in concentration camps in Romania were later moved to Transnistrien (Vapniarka, Berschad, etc.).

After the return of the Jews from Transnistrien, the lawyer Dr. Chaim Kupferberg became the leader of the Jewish community in Suceava (1940-1948).

Before the catastrophe, Dr. Adolf Gabor, Dr. S. Menkes and Schaje Halter served as vice presidents of the community. Members of the community council were: Hersch Sperber, M. Parola, Wolf Hauser, Pinkas Sternlieb, Mosche Sternlieb, Schmiel Oberwäger, Uscher Reicher, Isiu Taier, Eisig Rothkopf, Schaje Langer, Leon Rothkopf and Alter Lessner.

Dr. Adolf Gabor was coordinator of the Zionist clubs. His service of many years in the Zionist cause was well known in Suceava and the rest of the country. In 1920, a Jewish gymnasium was founded in Suceava and one of the subjects taught was the Hebrew language. The first director of the school was Professor Thaler.

On October 8, 1941 a secret conference took place in the Prefecture chaired by the Prefect of Suceava, with Romanian officials and a German SS officer present where the order for the deportation of the Jews from Romania was read. It was decided that the Jews of Suceava together with the Jews from Itzkany and Burdujeni would be deported in three transports. The Prefect of Suceava then left immediately for Bucharest.

On the morning of October 9, 1941 an ordinance with the following contents was enacted:
“The Jews of the city must immediately deliver their money, gold, precious stones, stocks and bonds and all other valuables to the National Bank and present themselves on the same day in Burdujeni with their hand luggage.”
In compliance with the above-mentioned law, the Jews Simon Tropp, Jakob Beiner, Sissie Weitmann, Noa Hopmeier, Dickmann, Selig Klüger, Feiwel Holdengraeber, Josef Hersch Ebner, etc delivered gold and valuables in the worth of several million dollars to the National Bank.

The concentration camp in Suceava, which at that time held 120 Jews from all levels of Jewish society was closed down. At the same time, the beating of drums announced that the entire Jewish population had to leave Suceava immediately and anyone who remained in the city would be punished by death.

In droves streamed the Jews, young and old by foot with packs on their backs to the Burdujeni railroad station where the entire Jewish population was loaded in cattle cars and were transported to Transnistrien, the majority to Scharogorod and Murafa. There, hunger and diseases decimated most of the former Jewish population of Suceava. In the summer of 1944, the few survivors, without means, sick and helpless returned to Suceava.

The relief action initiated immediately by the “Joint,” rescued these few survivors. The Jewish People's Community in Suceava led by Dr. Chaim Kupferberg again became active, organized several “help actions” and successfully helped the returning Jews to get jobs.

It should be mentioned here that the “OSE: under the leadership of Mosche Liquornik provided food for hundreds of children. To coordinate the work of the Jewish communities of South Bukovina in the years 1941/1942 and to better prepare for the fight against anti Semitism, it was in those difficult days of greatest importance to the Jews, since the anti-Semitism at that time in Romania, under the initiative and leadership of the German embassy, the German press (Bukarester Tagesblatt) and the Romanian anti-Semitic newspapers grew increasingly virulent, the Union of the Jewish Communities of South Bukovina chaired by the Community President of Suceava, Dr. Meir Teich was established. The Jewish communities of Siret Suceava, Radauti, Gura Humorului, Kimpolung, Vatra Dornei belonged to the Union.

It must be pointed out that the “Union” played a special roll when the Jews were evacuated from the border city Siret to Calafat and Craiova at the beginning of July 1941 in response to orders of the German army command. Because of the intervention of the “Union,” many of the Jews were able to remain in Suceava and Radauti.

The Zionistic organizations were built up again and the umbrella Zionist organization of South Bukovina elected Mosche Liquornik as its president. Dr. Chaim Kupferberg became the president of the Jewish community in Suceava.

For about 3 years there was active Zionist work by all groups like Ichud, Mapai, Mischmar-Mapam, Achduth Awoda, Haowed Hazioni, Revisionists and other groups until the Romanian officials forbid all Zionist activity.

In the years 1945-1947, Zionist activity was again reactivated in South Bukovina and made great progress.

At that time the following Zionist organizations became active:
  1. The “Misrachi” movement. President of the group was community council member, Schmuel Oberwäger. Members were Boimann, Kultusrat Liquornik and Gelber.
  2. The youth organization “Bne-Akiba” with the activists Karten, Riegler (today in Nathanya) and Kohn.
  3. The “Revisionists” with Abosch, Lawyer Barber and Dr. Nathan Wisznopolski
  4. The organization “Betar” with the activists Weiner, Bernstein, Schmelzer, Schwerberg, Jetti Rosenblatt and Rosenthal.
  5. “Mischmar-Mapam” with Heinrich Zwilling, Max Geller, Julius Strominger, Mrs Lina Gropper-Schwarz, Mrs. Toni Sternlieb, Hersch Fuhrer and wife.
The new Zionistic activity only lasted a short time, since after the government changed to a Communist one, the Jewish community was forbidden to engage in any further nationalistic activity. The Jewish community was only tolerated as a special religious group and placed under the supervision of the Communist party. The “Joint” bank was liquidated and because of that, the Jewish business community suffered a severe setback. All the commercial organizations of the Jewish businessmen and craftsmen ceased to exist. The Jewish craftsmen were forced to join a “collective” in order to be able to work for a pitiful wage. The remaining unemployed Jews tried to get by doing hourly work. The general situation of the Jews was at that time almost hopeless.

The Jews who still remained in Suceava waited longingly for the moment when they could go home to Israel.

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Endnotes :

  1. The term “community” always refers to the Jewish community of Suceava    <return>
  2. R.A. is the abbreviation for “Rechtsanwalt” which translates as "lawyer"     <return>
  3. OLGR is the abbreviation for “Oberlandgerichtsrat” which can be translated as "chief judge attached to a Supreme Court"  <return>


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