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[Page 7]

Akkerman City Plan

Map Key

  1. “Ramselina” Synagogue
  2. The courtyard of the three synagogues
  3. The old Jewish hospital
  4. Talmud Torah
  5. The Hebrew gymnasium “Tarbut”
  6. The Jewish Bank
  7. The new Jewish hospital
  8. The Jewish cemetery

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Blank page

[Page 9]

Prologue

Translated by Sara Mages

Many years have passed since the destruction of the Jewish community in Akkerman and the smaller communities in the district towns. Many of the former residents of these communities, who are now in Israel, felt a spiritual need to perpetuate these communities and raise, from the Vale of Tears, the memory of institutions and individuals who were so dear to us. For various reasons the publication of the Yizkor Book was postponed, and also now, with the publication of this book, we are not sure that we were able to properly shape the image of the lost communities. We did not have sources of information, archives, and historical documentary material at our disposal. With the loss of the Jews – many sources and memories were also lost, and we had no choice but to rely on what was left, on the survivors, one from a city and two from a family, letters from afar, old memories, etc. Although there were members among us, who thought that in the face of all this there is no choice but to give up and let them, Jewish Akkerman, Tarutino, Artsyz, Tatarbunar, Sarata, Byeramtcha, Shabo and all other towns, to go down to the depths of oblivion, but it is worth noting that many did not accept the thought of losing the memory of our parents, brothers and sisters, and all our loved ones who have instilled in us this legacy that in its light we walk. They were accompanied by the recognition that this is the last chance to save what can be saved, because year to year the number of those who still remember what was there and are able to attach word to word, shard to shard, as a testimony to future generations. If there are still some topics that are not included in this book – they must be attributed to the terms we were subjected to.

Also the chapter describing the great destruction, that each of us wants to know all its details, was not fully explored. The editorial staff of this collection did not see themselves as having the right to decide on details that were not sufficiently clarified regarding the final path of the martyrs. We let different witnesses (especially hearsay witnesses) to tell or write in their own words. It should be taken into account that not all the descriptions given in the book were written close to the time of occurrence, when things were still fresh in the memory. In many cases forgetfulness has done its thing, but, if after the publication of this collection additional sources will be discovered, or people who will be able to shed light on new matters, we will do our best to attach them as an appendix to the book.

Many years have passed since the curtain was raised and the sights of horror was revealed before us, but they did not make us forget and did not weaken, to a small degree, the great grief of the community and the individual, especially our heartache that most of the victims of the terrible Holocaust do not have a tombstone on their grave. Therefore, we dedicated a special section at the end of the book to commemorate their memory, and also the memory of the people of Akkerman and the towns of its district who fell in the Israeli wars or passed away in Israel. All words and details presented in this section – are the responsibility of the writers of the commemoration.

We see a need to thank everyone who helped us, a lot or a little, whether by writing a testimony, photos, etc., or by financial aid. May they all be blessed!

The editorial board of the book “Akkerman and the Towns of its District” December 1982
Tevet, 5743

[Page 10]

The book's editorial board

Sitting right to left: Shoshana Ramba (Hararit), Nissan Amitai (Stambul), Baruch Kamin (Kaminker), Yisrael Schildkrauth, Chava Barnea (Dorpman), Aharon Kaminker
Standing right to left: Shmuel Brilliant, Asher Brodsky, Tzvi Schechter, Binyamin Gieker, Shmuel Geber, Menachem Beider, Shmuel Gurfil
The missing board members: Binyamin Gershfeld, Bruria Har–Zion (Schwartzman), Yakov (Yani) Steinberg, Yosef Gur–Aryeh

 

[Page 11]

The Jewish community in Akkerman
from inception to destruction

by Nissan Amitai (Stambul)

Translated by Sara Mages

Few sources were at our disposal for the purpose of writing this essay, and it is not our fault. It turns out, that few have fully explored the history of this city, which has undergone various incarnations, and regimes and many upheavals over the centuries of its existence. Our attempts to trace later sources, pamphlets and booklets published after the conquest of the city by the Soviets, also came to naught, for we have found that even with regard to the city's past, historians and Soviet record keepers have adopted their standards, which, as is well known, do not excel in excessive objectivity. So we had only one choice – to use material and quotes from various encyclopedias, as well as the documentation available to some researchers. Even when we discovered some contradictions between various sources – we did not try to straighten things out, and for the most part brought the different versions without taking it upon ourselves to be “the decisive third scripture among them.” We had no pretense to write Akkerman's ancient history because we knew that the readers of this book are mainly interested in the knowledge about the life of the Jews in the city from the beginning of the formation of Jewish community in Akkerman to the bitter end, and this subject was especially on our minds when we began to dig into testimonies and archives, old newspapers and all the sources we came across. The writer of these lines isn't a historian or a researcher, and, therefore, the following shouldn't be seen more than an attempt to summarize things written, or said, on various occasions on this subject.

* * *

It is doubtful that there are many cities in the world whose name has been changed so many times by all sorts of rulers and regimes, who have been replaced in it frequently, as it happened with our city, Akkerman. The interesting thing is that in all the names the color white is somehow integrated in them. There is no doubt, that there was something about the unique style of Akkerman that emphasized the color white. Maybe because the brightness of the sun was different than in other cities, and maybe because the blue sky, which was reflected in the waters of the Leman River, was darker and casted a sharp white hue on the city? White is part of Akkerman's name in all languages and at all times.

Archaeological finds indicate that three thousand years before the Christian era there was already a population on the banks of the Leman who knew how to make iron weapons, they also raised animals and fished. We also know that in the first half of the first millennium BC, Scythians tribes settled on the eastern side of the Leman and Ostrogoths tribes on the southern side. In the 6th century BC, a settlement called Ophiusa was established on the banks of the Leman – which is Akkerman in the future. The Greek Herodotus, who also engaged in the study of the tribes that lived around the Leman, called Ophiusa by the name Tyras (by the way, the Greeks called the Leman the Dniester Tyras).

The author of the entry, Bilhorod–Dnistrovskyi, in the Israeli Encyclopedia (see volume 8 page 435), who relies on the studies of N. Iorga, V. Hyde, M.A. Halevi, A. Honigman and others, states that “Bilhorod–Dnistrovskyi is located in the place where the settlement of Tyras (Tyre?) was founded by Miletus' sons close to the year 650 BC.” According to Ammianus Marcellinus (41.8.XXII), Tyras was formerly a commercial colony of the Phoenicians. As a Greek colony, Tyras was, for a short time, under the rule of Diadochus (heir[1]) Lysimachus, and in the 2nd and 3rd centuries BC was gained a great bloom.

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In the days of Claudius Caesar it was ruled by the Romans who exempted it from taxes and granted it tax rights. In the year 238 AD, German tribes took over the city. In the 6th century it was included in the territory of the Antes tribe who settled in the same area after the defeat of the Huns. Later, already before the 9th century, Slavic tribes sat there. The Khazars rule spread over Tyras, as on some other settlements who in the past were Miletus' colonies.

We are faithful to the testimony of Amianus Marcellius, because the excavations conducted at different times near the banks of the Leman and the Dniester revealed the foundations of houses, workshops, remains of water supply systems, sewage and coins, that there's enough in them to confirm his testimony.

We can assume that Tyras spread over a large area of about 200 dunam. The streets discovered stretched along the banks of the Leman to the “Acropolis,” which formed the central part of the city, the place where the fortress stands today. The city's port in ancient times was in the place where the pier is now located, and to this place came boats and ships from distant places with cargo of various goods because Tyras was a free city and its trade relations were extensive.

The inhabitants of the city mainly engaged in farming, raising cattle and various crafts, and their ties with the settlements that stretched from the south and north of the Black Sea were very tight. They exported beef, honey, grains, fish, hides and wax, and imported expensive utensils, artifacts and decorations. Apparently, in the days of the Roman Empire Tyras was a commercial center for the environment, and the fact that it was granted privileges must have caused it to grow and prosper.

With the disintegration of the Roman Empire all kinds of tribes tried to take control of it. Its geographical location, proximity to the Leman River that was blessed with abounded of fish thanks to its sweet waters, the black fertile soil, the connection to the Black Sea, etc. – aroused the tribes' interest. As told above, in 238 AD Germanic–Gothic tribes took over the city but they were expelled by the Huns on their conquest campaigns in Europe. They also changed the name of the city and called it Touris. As they did everywhere, the Huns did here too – they exterminated and destroyed every sign of human culture that developed in and around the city.

After the fall of the Huns, and the disintegration of their rule in 451 AD, various tribes took over the city, but none of them lasted for long except for the Slavic tribes who stayed in the city for a longer time and also changed its name to Belgorod, meaning, White City.

(In parenthesis it is worth noting, that all the tribes that conquered the city changed its name, more of less, but, in all the names that they attached to the city the word white has been preserved, whether it is near the city or the fortress. The Byzantines called it Asprokastron – White Castle, the Tatars – Ak–Lova, the Genoses – Moncastro or Maurokastron, the Hungarians –Dnyeszterfehérvár, the Romanians – Cetatea Albă, the Turks – Akkerman and the Russians Belogrod and from 1812, with its conquest, they continued with the Turkish name, Akkerman, and most recently, from 1940, the Russians called it – Belgorod–Dnestrovskiy [White City on the Dniester]. R' Yoel Sirkis Bach [BAyit CHadash], also mentions the “White City” in his book “Questions and Answers.” The Russian chronicle, Nestor, (died in about 1100) also mentioned the city.)

There is no doubt, that the fact that the city frequently passed from hand to hand, from tribe to tribe, left its mark on its development, and it knew periods of ups and downs. It is known, that in the 14th century there was a settlement of Genova (Genua) merchants in the city who called it, Monoestro. They were joined later by others who originated from Ragusa. In the 15th century, the city was in the possession of the Moldavians, and because its place was at a crossroads between Lvov and Crimea, it had considerable commercial importance. In the days of the ruler, Alexandria cel Bun, the population of the city reached 20,000 inhabitants – Moldavians, Jews, Greek, Bulgarians, Armenians and Slovenians. This diverse composition of the population indicates that the city had an attractive power and its image was like “a window to the world.”

The Turks also ruled the city for long periods. They settled in the city as early as 1420, but retreated after battles. In 1454, the Turks attacked the city from the Leman's side, but their attacks were warded off. In 1475, the Turks laid siege to the city and the fortress, which was in the hands of the Moldovans, and great losses were inflicted on both warring sides without the Turks being able to take control of the city. Only in1484, Sultan Biazet II decided to conquer the city, at any cost, by seeing it as a key position for the takeover of Galicia and Poland. As it is told, there were constant battles for 15 days, and on August 16 of that year, the fortress fell to the Turks who massacred the defending inhabitants of the city and close to four thousand men and women were sold as slaves. The Turks destroyed the city and only about 200 remained of its previous inhabitants. The Turks called the city Akkerman (meaning, “The White Fortress”).

Many battles have been fought between the Turks, the Moldovans and the Russians over the rule of the city, which passed from hand to hand, with each occupier trying to leave in it his impression and culture. In 1812, the city was conquered by the Russians who ruled it for over a hundred years, until 1918, and with that a new chapter began in the history of the city which quickly became a Russian city in everything. In 1918, the city came under Romanian rule, and after the Second World War it returned again to Russian rule who crowned it by the named, Bilhorod–Dnistrovsky.

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The Fortress

Akkerman is known in the world thanks to the fortress near the Leman River. Who, and when, started to build this fortress? – this matter is in dispute to this day. Of all the prevailing explanations on this subject, it is most reasonable to assume that the people of Genova (Genoa), who lived in the place for some time, initiated the construction of the fortress and even laid the first foundations. Its construction was completed in a later period, at the end of the 15th century during the Moldavian rule. An inscription, which was engraved in one of the fortress' towers, states that the fortress was built during the reign of the Moldovan, Stefan the “God fearing.” The fortress was built according to the model and format of the Byzantine or European forts in the Middle Ages, covering an area of about 400 dunam, and together with the large square around it – close to 800 dunam. Twenty–six spires and towers stand out above the fortress. Its walls are impenetrable to bullets because their thickness reaches up to 5 meters. The length of the walls from the outside reaches up to 2 kilometers and their height to 11 meters. Positions and embrasures are fixed inside the walls. From the east, from the south and west, the fortress is surrounded by a canal whose depth reached up to 21 meters and width up to 10 meters. Even now, after the canal has been covered with soil, it reaches a depth of 14 meters in some places. The canal was dug 3 meters below the surface of the Leman and it has dams to stop the water. In times of war, the canal was filled with water to make it difficult for the enemy to access the fortress. A draw bridge hung over the canal at the entrance to the fort. There are three courtyards inside the fort and each has its own purpose. The largest courtyard was used for dwelling houses during a siege, the second courtyard for the garrison, while the third, the smallest one, for headquarters.

Bullets embedded in the fortress walls testify of the battles that took place at the site. For many years was an old rusty cannon inside the fortress square until the Romanians transferred it to the city's historical museum.

Many legends have been told about the tower and its turrets. Each generation has added its own personal touch to these legends and it is difficult to distinguish between imagination and reality in these legends, which added to the aura of mystery and romance to the fortress which is a kind of a hallmark and a sign of uniqueness of the city of Akkerman for many generations.

 

The entrance to the fortress in our time (after restoration)

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The Population and the Economic Life

The historian Anthony Babel states in his book, “La Besarabie,” Paris 1926, that Tyras was the oldest city in Bessarabia, and this fact can be explained in the physical–geographical conditions of the place. It is no wonder that the Scythian tribes, who wandered with their flocks in the area, as well as the Phoenician sailors who came in their ships in a later period, chose Tyras as their place of residence. The fertile black soil, which yields large crops in rainy years, freshwater lakes with abundant of fish, pasture plains for herds of sheep and cattle, and horse breeding, a suitable and convenient place for mooring fishing boats and merchant ships – could they have found a more suitable place for their needs? Indeed, these conditions determined the economic development of the city. The residents in the area grew wheat and barley, rye and corn, various vegetables, fruit trees and vineyards on vast areas, and thanks to the fertility of the soil and the abundance of the seeds it produced, it was possible to raise various poultry and domestic animals during the winter. It is natural that the large crop, which accumulated in the threshing floor and in the winery, motivated the residents to cultivate trade relations with the settlements on the Black Sea coast and to export the crops of the fertile soil. The trade was conducted on the Leman River and the Black Sea and reached as far as the Crimean Peninsula, Greece, Rome, etc. The residents of the city, and the area, exported cattle, honey, grains, skins, wax, wine, etc. and so the foundation was laid for a flourishing and prosperous economy that emerged mainly in the 2nd and 3rd centuries BC (Klyuchnik, Bilhorod–Dnistrovskyi 1973). After the city was conquered by the Romans, who came to it after the conquest of the Dacia region, the new conquerors soon realized the special nature of the city and its importance to the development of the economy in the area, and this was probably the reason for the special privilege granted to the city by Claudius Caesar who freed the residents from taxes and defined it as a free city. Many boats and ships flocked to it through the Black Sea, or the Leman when it was not frozen, stocking up on the crops and grains they needed. We do not have reliable information about the economic situation in the city during the days of the invasions and rule of the nomadic tribes – a period that lasted nearly a thousand years – but there is evidence for the good economic conjuncture created in the area with the beginning of the settlement of the Genoese and the Ragusas. The Genoese applied their great experience, expanded trade relations in all directions, and greatly influenced this region to flourish and prosper as it had not before.

It shouldn't be forgotten that the large areas of Bessarabia were abandoned and without proper roads. A large number of nations who brought with them a medley of languages, sort of a “Tower of Babel” in biblical times, settled there. Also, the few existing roads were in danger and robberies and looting were very common. The industrious Genoese, who erected the forts in Akkerman, Bender, Soroca and Khotin in northern Bessarabia, knew, that first and foremost, they must secure the roads used by the convoys carrying the goods north, otherwise they wouldn't be able to market their goods, and they embarked on this mission and succeeded in it. Akkerman's location on a crossroads between Southern Poland and Crimea turned it into a very important strategic and economic position, and in this manner Akkerman and Kiliya became very important commercial centers. The experienced merchants of Genoa and Ragusa tightened the trade ties with Constantinople, Asia Minor and various ports along the shores of the Black Sea, especially – the port of Kaffa in Crimea. Traders from Poland arrived in Akkerman and bought wine, horses, grain, etc. and shipped them north. These ties did not cease even after the conquest of the area by the Moldovans, Akkerman, and the surrounding area, continued to fulfill the role of granary and supplied goods to the entire near and far environment. Romanian historians, among them N. Iorga, praise the fact that the Moldovan prince, Alexandru the Good, granted privileges to the merchants of Lvov who flocked on the roads of Wallachia to the coastal cities of the Black Sea, Akkerman among them. These special privileges were renewed from time to time by other Moldovan princes.

From this it can be concluded that even after Akkerman fell into the hands of the Turks, its fertility and special qualities did not cease and it continued to be an important economic center, although it went through a period of recession until the Turks established themselves in power. According to certain testimonies, there were about twenty thousand inhabitants in Akkerman before the Turkish occupation.

The great momentum in the development of the city, and economic sources, began with the Russian occupation in 1812. Their first steps prove that the Russians had a special interest in the development of this region. They made a kind of a “transfer” of the population and moved the Tatars and Moldovans, who did not like the Russians, into the depths of Russia. Many of them did not wait until they were transferred. The news of the Russians' repressive measures regarding the peasants, the obligation to enlist in the army, etc. caused them to flee to Wallachia and Moldova. The population of the place became very sparse and in order to re–settle the territories, especially the desolated “Budjak” region (Bender and Akkerman regions) in the south, which was emptied due to the expulsion of the many Tatars who made up the majority of its population, it was necessary to bring new colonists from remote areas.

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In 21.5.1816, four years after the Russian rule was established, Tsar Alexander I, instructed General Bakhmetyev, who was the Russian governor in Bessarabia, to take care of the colonization of the “Budjak” prairies, and see it as a very urgent role in the settlement of colonists in Bessarabia. The governor was also given permission to grant the colonists privileges and various benefits to attract them to settle in Bessarabia. Under this policy, German, Bulgarian, French from Lotharingia, Swiss, Bulgarians and Serbians settlers were brought in and granted the status of foreign settlers with special rights and benefits. Every family was given 60 dessiatin of land (about six hundred dunam) and relieved of their military service. In addition, the new settlers enjoyed a certain degree of administrative and cultural autonomy, including a long–term exemption from paying taxes, cheap credit for economic development and discounts. About twenty thousand peasants were also brought from the inner provinces of Russia, and they too enjoyed all the discounts granted to foreign settlers.

As a result of this Russian policy, important economic development began in the “Budjak” region, which also included Akkerman and Bender as one unit. The economic momentum in Akkerman was especially noticeable after it was separated from the Bender region in 1818 and turned into a district city.

The table given below proves the population growth in Bessarabia from 1816/17 to 1858, when a census was conducted in the cities (“Encyclopedia of the Diaspora” – A. Feldman):

City Number of residents in the district cities
1816/1817 1858
The growth
%
Khotyn 1500 13121 774.7
Soroca 2025 5410 167.2
Balti 3100 8077 160.5
Orhiyov ? 4305 ?
Kishinev 5000 82683 1553.3
Bandar 1738 15188 773.8
Akkerman (1808) 1670 19963 1093.8

From this table we learn that only Kishinev [Chișinău] surpasses Akkerman in the rate of population growth. In 1818, Kishinev was declared the capital of Bessarabia and the authorities were interested in increasing the number of inhabitants in the city. Therefore, it turns out that during the first five decades of Russian rule the population of Akkerman increased by 18,266 inhabitants. In 1897, a census was conducted again and 28,258 residents were counted in Akkerman, meaning an increase of about 8,322 inhabitants over forty years, which proves a marked decline in the importance of the economy that gave signals in the movement of the population. It is worth noting, that the 1890 encyclopedic dictionary of Efron Brukhaus brings an estimate of 41,178 inhabitants in Akkerman for the year 1885, but this estimate does not seem reasonable for it is hard to imagine that in 12 years, until 1897, the population dwindled by 12,000 people.

In December 1930, the Romanian government conducted a census in the cities of Bessarabia and Aliba, and in that census Akkerman had a population of 34,485 inhabitants. It goes without saying, that for 33 years the city's population has grown by only 6,227 inhabitants. Presumably, some of them were residents who fled during the Russian Revolution and settled in the city.

In the above mentioned Brukhaus Dictionary, we find statistics on the sources of livelihood of the inhabitants of Akkerman and the immediate area in 1885. In that year there were in Akkerman: 304 vegetable gardens and 2,085 orchards and vineyards, 13 industrial plants and 551 commercial businesses. A district fair, called Nikolajevskaja Jarmorka, was held in Akkerman every year, from 6 to 28 December. The main products traded at this fair were: salt, fish, fat, wool and mostly wine. The municipality's revenue in this year (?) reached to the amount of 46,248 ruble, while the expenses to the amount of 47,218 ruble. The capital of credit institutions – 20,455 rubles (the customs house and three pharmacies are also included among these institutions).

With the Romanian occupation, Akkerman was cut off from Russia and its main port Odessa, and became a border city. The transfer of goods from Russia to Bessarabia was wiped out and, as a result, the economic situation worsened. The Romanians had no particular interest in developing the area. On the contrary, their aim was to attract a population to Romania and increase the Romanization of the area in which the influence of the Russians, culturally and economically, was very noticeable. All existing marketing was mainly directed towards the north. Indeed, Polish traders continue to come to Akkerman to buy wine and grain, but Akkerman in that period was no longer a commercial transit city through which goods moved north and south.

[Page 16]

Few are the details about the development of the city during the first half of the 19th century. From an article published in the newspaper, “Odesskij Vestnik,” we learn that the residents in Akkerman and the district developed the wine industry and planted many vineyards. In 1842 there are already 800 vineyards in the city, meaning, that from the beginning of the Russian occupation until the date of the publication of the article – 1842 – the area of the vineyards grew by 150%.

If we can rely on Klyuchnik, in 1821 the wine industry crop was 40,000 buckets, whereas towards 1860 the crop amounted to about a million buckets. From the same source we learn that at the end of the 19th century there were 3 small sugar factories, 2 tobacco factories and 4 cotton factories in Akkerman. Brukhaus encyclopedia, like Klyuchnik encyclopedia, indicates that there were 72 flour mills in Akkerman, 5 jetties and 80 fishing points next to the Leman River and the shores of the Black Sea. Klyuchnik also mentions that with the declaration of Akkerman as a district city in 1818 it had 500 residential cottages, while in 1860 there were already 600 stone buildings out of the 2,953 residential buildings.

An economic downturn hit the city after the Russian authorities began developing the city of Odessa and its port, which quickly became the main port in the Black Sea for Ukraine and Russia. Also the development of the ports of Kiliya, Reni, Brăila and Galaţi on the Danube, caused a considerable decrease in Akkerman's status as a transit city for the import and export of goods. Although wine production and grain growth continued, but the aforementioned ports caused a considerable devaluation in the development of Akkerman port and, as a result, the days of the economic prosperity of the city and its port passed, and there was a long period of recession.

There was also a certain freeze in the industry during the period of the Russian rule and also in the days of the Romanian rule. With the exception of a few small industrial plants, which employed few workers in the industry of brick, roofing tile, canned fish, etc. The main marketing industry was fish marketing. Y. Schildkrauth lists in his book all types of fish that were marketed from Akkerman.

Carps and large heavyweight sanders, kefal [mullet], scomber [mackerel], fresh sardines swimming in lemon, big and wide flattened turbot with rivet bones, and “buziot” cracked and dried. The kefal was an important market in Akkerman because of its special taste. At a time when the kefal in the sea was still young and soft, and beginning to grow and develop, a fence was erected in a particular area in the sea. Fish food was used as bait for the tiny and skinny kefals, who floated and crept through the bars into the particular area. The kefal stayed there for a few weeks, fattened nicely, grew quickly and gained weight. They could not escape from the barred area back to the sea because the space between the bars in the water was quite narrow.”

Apart from these, they also installed wide canals leading to the beach, and the tiny kefal fish were drawn into them as a refuge from predatory fish. These fenced areas were called “yarikim” and the fish – “yarichny kefal”.

In its early stages the wine industry in Akkerman was quite primitive and the grapes were trampled by feet into large tubs. This, of course, was not the most hygienic way since the treading was done in cellars and also endangered the health of those engaged in it. Only later, presses were used to squeeze the wine and the work was done not in cellars but in the houses' courtyards.

 

Transportation

Akkerman did not excel in modern transportation. The main means of transportation in, and outside the city, were the carts and the “bindiugot” (long carts, open and narrow). The mean of transportation in the city itself was by “drozkot” (carriages harnessed to one horse), or “peitonim” (carriages harnessed to two horses). Before the First World War, a train operated from Akkerman north to Chisinau and after the Romanian occupation a line was also operated to Romania. At the same time, a railway line was laid from Akkerman to Odessa, but with the outbreak of the First World War the work on this line was stopped and not completed during the Romanian occupation. Y. Schildkrauth describes in his book a new way of, so to speak, modern transportation that was used before the First World War:

“One of Akkerman's wealthy Christian residents, named Pimilidia, decided to give the city a cheap, convenient and “modern,” mean of transportation. To do so, he drove a “konka” (sort of a small “tram” pulled by horses). Narrow railroad tracks were laid on the city streets and crossed some of the streets – Izmailovsky, Sofievsky, Nikolaievsky, Mikhailovsky, Alexandrovsky, along the entire street on the Leman shore (Limania), and reached as far as the large flour mill of the Aswadorov brothers. In the big and long Izmailovsky Street, and in the city square in front of the fortress, was the main line of freight traffic. One harnessed horse easily pulled, as it was sliding on the polished tracks, dozens of iron wagons, closed and open, laden to the top with thousands of sacks of grain taken out of the granary. The horse brought them to the moorings and where their contents were emptied into the rigs and barges.”

[Page 17]

This Pimilidia was a person with initiative and also gave Akkerman a more modern means of transportation when he replaced the horse with a large, old–fashioned locomotive, “which pulled in a crawl, with heavy exhalation and creaking, a long chain of railcars and platforms, loaded and full. It filled the streets with black, filthy and stuffy smoke, which was emitted from his old and used guts, and with its wild whistle disrupted the rest of the inhabitants and the normal traffic in this part of the city, and angered the population who cursed and sent all their bad dreams on the head of the “black demon.” A few years later this mean of transport was eliminated and Pimilidia lost all his assets.

 

Convalescent Homes

An important branch of Akkerman's economy was the convalescent homes in its vicinity, like: Borysivka, Sargeivka, Tuzly, Budaki, Kordon, Bugaz and Shabo, each of them had its own virtues. So, for example, Budaki was famous for its “Dead Sea,” meaning – the salt baths for those suffering from rheumatism in addition to the mud baths, and people suffering from rheumatism flocked to it from all over the country. Kordon, near Budaki, on the shores of the Black Sea, excelled in its dwellings, villas for rent that were, of course, intended for the wealthy. Shabo gained a lot of publicity thanks to a special variety of small light–pink grapes, which were sweet as honey, and many saw in them a kind of a remedy for lung and anemia diseases. Thousands of people from the north and Romania filled these convalescent homes to capacity in the summer season, which was an economic boom season for Akkerman. Indeed, it was a short season – just two months – but it was the “golden age” of Akkerman and the surrounding area. Farmers, merchants, and craftsmen of all kinds, eagerly waited for this season which covered the deficits of the entire year and everyone benefited from it. And so, Y. Schildkrauth describes the blessed season in his book: “When the recovery season began, the city took off its stiff clothing, “put its feet,” simply and comfortably, inside the slippers, dressed in a “negligee” and behaved in the carefree way of the “cured.” Akkerman's residents moved their wives and children to a health resort (“kurort” in a foreign language), and the husbands remained, abandoned and lonely, in the city to run their businesses and looked forward to Saturday and Sunday when they would come to stay with the family at the convalescent home.”

 

The synagogue in the holiday village (Kordon– Budaki) at the convalescent home of M. Berg

 

Footnote

  1. So were called the army commanders who after the death of Alexander Macedon divided his kingdom among them. Return

 

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