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Translation of Artsiz chapter from
Pinkas Hakehillot Romania
Published by Yad Vashem
Published in Jerusalem, 1980
This is a translation from: Pinkas Hakehillot: Encyclopedia of Jewish Communities,
Romania, Volume II,
pages 335-336, published by Yad Vashem, Jerusalem, 1980
JewishGen, Inc. makes no representations regarding the accuracy of
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Translated by Ala Gamulka
In Romanian and in Russian it is called Artsiz.
It was a German colony in the Akkerman District on the banks of the Cherna River.
|Year||Numbers||% of Jews
The colony was founded in 1823 by 95 Polish and Prussian immigrant families. Later 44 additional families joined them from Wurttemberg, Mecklenburg and Prussia. They founded a second colony with the same name – on the right bank of the river. The first settlers received, from the Russian authorities, 5700 Disiatins, while the newer settlers were only awarded 60 Disiatins per family. The two colonies later united under one name. The new settlement served as a commercial center. The various villages sent goods to Artsiz. From there, the goods were sent to Tighina, Bolgrod, Chilia, as well as Tiraspol and Odessa, on the other side of the Dniester. These towns had large Jewish populations and the contact with them drew many more Jews to Artsiz.
The first Jews arrived in town in the middle of the 19th century. The first bit of information we have is from 1900. It indicates that 35 families or 170 Jews suffered starvation due to the drought in Bessarabia. Their numbers grew in one month (March 1900) to 44 hungry families. Emissaries arrived in town sent by the Help Committee from Petrograd and Odessa. They came to investigate the situation and to offer assistance.
The Jews earned their living in commerce and manufacturing. There were several textile factories owned by Jews. The relations between the Jews and the Germans were never good. The Germans did not approve of equal civil rights given to Jews in 1917. A severe economic crisis again affected the Jews in the years 1920-1923 after the annexation of Bessarabia by Romania. In spite of the difficulties, the local Jews tried to help the Jewish refugees from Ukraine.
As of 1935 the condition of the Jewish merchants worsened due to the boycott by the German residents as the Nazi movement spread.
Society, Culture and Institutions
In spite of their small numbers, there was a vigorous Jewish life. In 1921 Tarbut School was founded followed by a high school and a kindergarten. The community was well-organized and looked after the needs of the population. It bought equipment for baking matzos for the residents. Among its institutions we must mention two libraries, an orchestra, and WIZO. The traditional activities on behalf of Eretz Israel, Jewish National Fund and Keren Hayesod were executed with enthusiasm and continuity. There was a Zionist Association from 1900, as well as a women's committee and other assistance groups. A canteen was opened in the Tarbut School in 1929 to help those hit by starvation. There, many children were fed dinner. The Help for the Poor gave assistance to the needy. There were also Help for the Sick and a loan fund. The drought and the hunger touched, from time to time, all of Bessarabia and especially the Jews of Artsiz. This happened in 1923, 1929 and 1936. The youth enlisted to generate funds for Eretz Israel by organizing bazaars, balls and donations. Proportionally, there were many youths from Artsiz who made Aliyah. There must have been several dozens of them. It is known that in 1936 when their relatives were starving in Artsiz, they collected funds in Eretz Israel and sent them to their home town.
The situation worsened towards the end of the 1930s. The anti-Semitism and the attacks grew – encouraged by the authorities and executed by the German residents. In April 1939 the Romanian authorities decided to close the Jewish kindergarten in spite of the fact that in 1936 and the Romanian Ministry of Education praised it.
After Bessarabia was annexed by the Soviets in May 1940, according to the Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact, all Jewish businesses and institutions were confiscated. The German residents were evacuated before war broke out between the Soviet Union and Germany. This was according to the agreement between the two governments. When the war erupted most of the Jews of Artsiz were unable to escape the German army. The town is located in southern Bessarabia and the Romanian and German armies advanced easily from north to south. Very few Jews ran away and most of those went to Odessa. The fate of the Jews of Artsiz was similar to the fate of other Jews in the area. Most of them were slaughtered as the Romanian and German armies entered town. The remainder were expelled to Transnistria where they were exterminated. There are no witnesses to what happened at the time.
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