Translation of Tiraspol chapter from
Pinkas Hakehillot Romania
Translation of Tiraspol chapter from
Published by Yad Vashem
Published in Jerusalem, 1969
Published in Jerusalem, 1969
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to put this material on the JewishGen web site.
This is a translation from: Pinkas Hakehillot: Encyclopedia of Jewish Communities, Romania,
Volume 1, pages 445-447, published by Yad Vashem, Jerusalem, 1969
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Translated by Ala Gamulka
Tiraspol is a district capital city on the Dniester, across the river from Tighina in Bessarabia. It is located 46 km south east of Chisinau, an important center for supplying produce in Ukraine.
In 1926 there were 6398 Jews there and they formed 29.1 % of the population.
During World War II Tiraspol served as a transit point for exiled Jews on their way to Transnistria. From there they were sent to ghettos and camps Berezovca and Golta. The information bulletin of the Transnistria police reported that until January 15, 1942, 827 Jews passed through. During the war several thousand had reached there.
At first, the exiles were not permitted to stay in Tiraspol as they could in other transit locations on the way to Transnistria. However, there were many government offices in Tiraspol, such as city hall, police station, militia headquarters, military courthouse and military prisons. Thus, in the summer of 1942, 30-40 Jewish craftsmen were brought to Tiraspol. They came from the Transnistria ghettos to serve the local authorities. In addition, other Jews on their way to exile managed to stay in Tiraspol. They were also craftsmen or pretended to be craftsmen. A ghetto with about 100 Jews was thus created. Many came from Bukovina and some from other parts of Romania. Their numbers grew gradually and in 1943 there were 221 Jewish craftsmen. Later, an additional number of exiles came to do forced labor. By March 1944 there were 821 Jews. In addition, there were about 600 Jews in the prison.
Local Jews were no longer alive when the exiles arrived in Tiraspol. The Ukrainian residents said that as soon as Tiraspol was conquered, the Germans shot 10,000 Jews. They even showed the common grave to the exiles. Those who had survived the massacre were exiled by the Romanian militia, according to regulation #23, to camps on the banks of the Bug River. A few Jews who passed as Christians managed to live among the local population without being discovered.
The first exiles were placed in a building that had formerly served as a hospital and was located in the center of town. The building was surrounded by a large garden. It was fenced in by stone and iron. Above the fence there was barbed wire. The main wing of the building had 18 rooms occupied by Romanian soldiers on their way to the front. The Jews were, at first, crowded into 3-4 neglected and filthy rooms. When the soldiers left they were able to move into other rooms.
The authorities established two sewing rooms- for men and for women, and a barbershop. Later a shoemaker's shop, a workshop for making linens and a small soap factory were opened. The soap factory was managed by an exile that was a professional in the field and had 8 Jews working in it.
Since Tiraspol was an administrative center of the military, it was under the control of the Transnistria militia. Its headquarters were in Odessa under the control of General Iliescu. The local militia was under the command of Major Iacobescu.
There were also some German military units around the town. However, they had no connection with the ghetto and their soldiers were not permitted to go to the ghetto without the accompaniment of a local Romanian militia officer.
In autumn 1942, two months after the establishment of the ghetto, there was a change in supervision from the local police to the local militia. Major Iacobescu gathered the Jews and the militia and told the latter that their mission was to defend the Jews and not to persecute them. They would have to defend the Jews in the ghetto from the Germans and the Ukrainian Vomi (militia). He announced that each member of the militia would personally ensure the well-being of the Jews.
Iacobescu allowed the Jews to keep their earnings and made certain they received decent wages for their work by anyone who required their services- whether they were other residents or the authorities. As a result, the ghetto was well organized.
The first leader of the ghetto, chosen by his peers, discriminated against some of the exiles. He caused the transport of some of them to the other side of the Bug replacing others who were close to him. When Iacobescu was informed he exiled this leader to camp Vapiniarca. Other leaders who followed looked after everyone in a proper manner.
A Jewish doctor who came to do forced labor helped to create, with the first 50-60 exiles, a communal organization. The workers brought half of their earnings to a common fund. The money paid for a common dining facility for all ghetto residents. It was even available to those who could not work as well as the hundreds of Jews in transit to other parts of Transnistria. A clinic with 6-8 beds was opened. It was manned by a doctor and a registered nurse. A dental clinic was also available. The exiles cleaned and repaired the rooms, the showers and the toilets of the former hospital. They even grew vegetables in the garden around the building.
Due to the cleanliness, the Jews in the ghetto were mostly not hit by Typhus. There were only a few cases and only one resulted in death.
There were two types of work permanent and temporary. The workshops, the soap factory, the canning plant, forest work and the health service were considered permanent. The temporary jobs were found in government institutions. The militia accompanied those who worked outside the ghetto. However, the supervision was erratic and the workshops were successful and produced results of high quality. There was good income from the soap factory since the authorities provided raw materials and also bough the products. The temporary jobs were found in government institutions. The militia accompanied those who worked outside the ghetto. However, the supervision was erratic and the workshops were quite successful and produced results of high quality. There was good income from the soap factory since the authorities provided raw materials and bought the products.
Thanks to the positive attitude and compassionate understanding shown by Iacobescu the Tiraspol ghetto became a refuge for many exiles in Transnistria. At times, Jews from concentration camps or ghettos where life was far worse were brought to Tiraspol. These were special arrangements with Iacobescu. This is how some Jews came to be tried in military court on bogus crimes or to be witnesses. They never returned to their previous places of exile. Sometimes Jews were invited to come because they were experts needed by the local factories or the ghetto workshops.
In addition, other Jews who were on their way to the Bug were also saved. Ghetto residents hid them until their transport left town. They stayed with the silent approval of Commander Iacobescu. Several Jewish prisoners who had ben brought to Tiraspol to serve their sentences were transferred by Iacobescu, accompanied by the militia, into the ghetto. He knew they would be well looked after in the ghetto instead of being in prison. Sometimes, members of the ghetto bribed the police to free some prisoners.
Forced labor centers were established in Tiraspol outside the ghetto. There was a workshop for repairs where used army uniforms were taken apart and sewn anew. It was situated in a former school building and had 400 Jews working there. Of these, 250 came from Bukovina and Ragat- from other ghettos in Transnistria. The remainder were transferred in the fall of 1943 from Nestervarca, district of Tulchin. The camp had been disbanded.
There was a collection center where different products were gathered prior to being sent to Romania. About 100 Jews were employed there. They had arrived in Tiraspol without clothes and exhausted after a march of several weeks and back-breaking work in the summer. The third center was used for vehicle repairs. About 100 men, brought from Mogilev, worked there. The three centers belonged to the army. The workers slept in shacks and were fed in the military kitchen. They wore used army uniforms until clothes arrived from the aid committee in Bucharest. They were not allowed to leave camp at any time.
In addition, there were a few hundred men in the Tiraspol prison. Most of them arrived in January 1944 from Slivina Detention Camp. Others came for various reasons from all ghettos in Transnistria.
Militia statistics indicate that in September 1943 there were only 156 Jews in Tiraspol. Of these 1567, 123 came from Bukovina and 33 from Bessarabia. This seems to refer to regular ghetto residents.
Assistance and Outside Visitors
The aid committee in Bucharest sent packages in December 1943 when their delegation came to visit. They arranged the return of exiles from Dorohoi to Romania.
Several delegations visiting Transnistria came to Tiraspol because the ghetto was known for its excellent organization. In 1943 a group of Catholic priests, led by a representative of the Romanian Pope, Andrea Cassulo, came to visit. He spoke to the Jews and told them the world did not forget them. He also said that they should remember their God because this is from where their salvation would come. Also, an International Red Cross delegation came for an inspection.
Culture and Religion
The Jews of Tiraspol managed to establish a house of worship. They were able to obtain a Torah scroll from a village nearby. One of the exiles, a doctor from Ragat, served as a cantor. During the High Holidays the Jews were allowed to stop working.
The Jews also organized parties and prepared artistic programs. One of these events occurred during the second visit of the Buchares aid committee (spring 1944). They came to arrange for the return of all exiles from south Transnistria to Romania.
End of the Ghetto
As the front lines edged closer the exiles in Tiraspol received all kinds of permits from the militia to be able to return to Romania. On March 17, 18, 19 1944 they crossed the Dniester together with exiles from south Transnistria. They were given assistance by the Bucharest aid committee.
After the Jews left the Germans took over running the town, the bridges over the Dniester and the prison. They immediately slaughtered 1000 prisoners. Among them were 400 who had been brought in only that day from the military court. They had not yet been sentenced. There were many Jews among them men and women. Only 5 Jewish women survived because they were imprisoned in cells the Germans did not find. The Romanians liberated them after the massacre.
Yad Vashem Archives: 20 -1874/27; R- 1791/108; K 869/73,; P- 696/69; P- 610/59; PKR/V-29(365-66) 30(367-72); 48(766-72); 51(783-86); 52(787-90) 54(812-13)
M. Carp Archive
II. 230-232, 238-41; III, 252.
Eye witness: A. The Massacre of the Jews of Romania, Davar, ed. 5131 (21.5.42)
B. The Political Representatives of the Jews of Romania, Davar ed. 5135 (27.5.42)
A. I.: From the mouth of those who arrived. Davar Hapoelet, year 12, ed. 3-4 (30.4.46) pp. 54-55.
Carp, M. Cartea Neagra, II, Bucharest 1946, pp.51-52
Idem, III Bucharest 1947, pp.283, 320, 440
Sharage, Efraim: Pagini dintr-o carte nescrisa, Sliha, Tel Aviv, 5 April 1956.
Hilberg, Raul, The Destruction of European Jews, Chicago, 1951, p.506.
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