The Expulsion of Yedenitzers by Yuzi Landau (presently in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil)
At the end of 1940 news reached the shtetl that the Soviets had given an ultimatum to the antisemitic-fascist government of Antonescu, that it must, in four hours time, leave Bessarabian soil. Not having a choice, the Rumanian civil and military authorities hurried to pack up their "suitcases" and start to quickly leave Bessarabia, where they ruled since 1918.
Actually, the shtetl remained, for several days, between the withdrawal of the Rumanians and the arrival of the Russians, without any governing body.
"Those were days of fear", Chaikeh Maryanski recalls, "because there was still, fresh in everyone's mind the pogrom and the days of violence and murder of 1918, before the Russians departed and the Rumanians entered Bessarabia. Now the situation was the opposite, but the results may be the same."
The Rumanians ruled in the shtetl for 22 years. This was a regime of terror and fear, of corruption and bribery, of suppression and arbitrary arrests. But people, someway or other, got used to this regime, carried on their business and earned their livelihood, some less and some more, there was "parnoseh". There were the rich and the poor, craftsmen and merchants, lessees and banks. There was also an organized community life with various "committees" who took care of the needs of the community and offered help and support to those in need in times of suffering.. There were school heders and a gymnasium; an intensive Jewish life was carried on, with Zionist parties, youth and chalutz: organizations. There were also communist and "leftist" circles that caused trouble, not only to themselves, but often to the whole Jewish population in the shtetl. Annually, when May 1st approached, the government carried out arrests amongst the "leftists", "bolsheviks" in their language, and the whole shtetl, for a long period found itself in a condition of fear and suddenly everything is on the threshold of being destroyed, all at once.
There was also, in the air, hopes for "true freedom and equality" - any moment we would be freed, many hoped, from the Rumanian chains, from the Rumanian suppression. A wave of joy overtook everyone, particularly those who were preparing for this. After all, they had suffered so much in order to reach "the great hour" when the Soviet Army and the Soviet powers will reach Bessarabia.
The general atmosphere and the mood on the street that permeated the shtetl in those days, according to Sara Libvack follows:
"People didn't know what the new rulers would bring them, economically, politically, and especially in the national sense. But then, because the Rumanians were despised, because of the oppression, the suffering and the humiliation suffered by Jews from the Rumanian rule, everyone actually beamed with joy when they heard that the Russians were coming. When they appeared in the street, the joy was limitless. People embraced one another and cried from joy, not only the previous 'faithful' Soviets, those who had suffered so much from the Rumanian acts of terror, they donned red stripes on their chests, because they were the main "mechutonim" for the reception of these new guests for whom they had waited so long; it was for this wonderful moment that they had, in the near past, paid 'so dearly'".
How the shtetl prepared itself to receive the "guests" who were approaching, as told by Roza Chachanovich:
"In those days my younger brother, Shmuel, who had a talent for drawing was asked to create a large picture of Stalin that would be carried at the head of the manifestation that would greet the Russians, the liberators of Bessarabia, from the hands of the corrupt Rumanian regime.
The celebration began as soon as the Rumanian army was seen withdrawing, the joy even so stirred the crowd, that when they saw a Rumanian officer or soldier, they tore off their stripes from their shoulders and even spit on their faces. Such acts served the Rumanians as an excuse to take revenge on the Jews when they returned to the shtetl.
A few hours after the Russian military arrived (they entered the shtetl Friday evening), an announcement was made that all residents must assemble, the following day, on the "borhovitzeh", in order to hear what the new liberators have to say.
At that assembly there was present Yehuda Kafri, then still a youngster. He relates:
At the massive assembly, in which thousands of Jews participated, of all ages and classes, a Jewish officer appeared, a 'commisar' who addressed the population in Yiddish and Russian. He said: 'We've come to free you from the Rumanian suppression. From now on you will be free and you will fare well.' Stormy applause greeted these words of the speaker. The crowd, that scattered, had no way of knowing what awaits them from the new regime, from the liberators.
The Russian military took over the seminary. The officers grabbed the houses at the head of "Pachbova" street. The atmosphere was filled with communist spirit and everyone tried to show their loyalty to the new regime, in many forms, both vocally and in writing. Following is a sample of a song that became very popular at that time, (as remembered by Yekl Gold):
'Joy has reached the street of the workers,
There's singing and dancing no end;
The working class has been uplifted
There's no more pedigree for manufacturers, the rich
So dance on, make the circle larger,
Express your praise in song,
Thank the great liberators,
The great Party of Stalin and Lenin
Nearly every day gatherings took place at which praise was showered on the new regime's good qualities, stressing thereby the difficult situation that had pressed the masses, at the time of the former, rotten regime.
The new city rulers were appointed. At first they were all local people, the majority sworn communists or sympathizers. The most familiar names: Sholda, Kerig,
Gitl Feldman and others. The new rulers felt that their great hour had struck. They rolled up their sleeves in order to demonstrate what they were capable of The first thing was to get even with the "wealthy" of the shtetl, to throw them out of their homes, requisition their fortunes and generally take revenge on them. Everything they owned in their homes and stores was listed. That's how, for instance, the ruler Sholda, settled in the house of Chaim Gukovsky, and his wife, the dentist Preizer. Sholda decided that to enter his place the entrance should be at the front. It will do no harm for those who come to Gukovsky, to the dentist, to enter the house through the back door, through the yard.
The rule of the locals didn't last long, however, they soon lost their appeal in the eyes of their commanders, the headquarters exchanged them for high-ranking officials who were brought from elsewhere. Immediately a shortage of food was felt. There were long lines in front of the stores. Bread and other food articles sufficed for only a small percentage of those in line.
Frieda Mitl (at that time, Kuzminer) tells the following regarding the behavior of the Russian soldiers in the shtetl, and about the treatment of the rulers to the residents.
"During the first days, the Russian soldiers entered the stores and bought everything therein. Everything was desirable for them. Comical scenes took place in the street. The soldiers got all dressed up in the strangest assortment of clothes, whatever they could acquire. It was like a 'Purim Shpil'.
One case will demonstrate the relationship of the rulers to the population: Amongst the first films that were brought down to the shtetl was 'Di Zuchers Fun Glick' (The Searchers of Good Fortune). The main hero of the film was a Jew who doesn't want to work., Even in Birobidzhan to where he is transferred, he seeks riches. His wife appears even more pathetic. Her sister marries a goy and lives happily with her husband. The elderly mother is very happy with this later marriage, because, so one was supposed to deduce from the film, better a hard-working goy than a lazy Jew. The film shocked the audience".
The economical structure and the living conditions of the shtetl Jews changed completely. Trade was paralyzed. Some of the larger businessmen were sent to Siberia. The newly opened stores were turned into cooperatives and their previous owners worked in them as hired hands. The state owned businesses were turned into 'abelias' and the former owners were turned into state-employed workers. The co-op workers as well as other residents tried to integrate into the new order and show devotion to the new regime, as illustrated in the bulletin board in the shops. Following is a fragment of a poem that was put up on a board (as Yekl Gold remembers it):
'The hour has struck
The brains are already speeding,
Everything is headed to the Rumanian home.
The masses are rushing
The elders are hit
They grind their teeth in pain
It's hard for the "heroes"
To leave their tents
To leave 'the mother of bread'
Overhead it is written
You must run away
It's a matter of life and death.
You shouldn't be angry
At the Red Army,
They are rightfully coming back home;
The Versailles misleaders
Down with them,
Their punishment is about to happen".
It was hard to get work. If it was pointed out that one had once been a 'Zionist', it was too bad for him. In order to get work one had to supply an "autobiography". Coops were established, it's true, but there was great disorder in them, because the officials and the bosses were themselves disorganized. The Jews lived in fear. No-one knew how the situation would develop.
Shortly after the occupation the schools were opened. The official languages were Russian and Moldavian. Hebrew, of course, was disallowed. The majority of teachers came from elsewhere though there were local teachers also. There were cultural activities. Even weddings took place in secrecy. True, the 'Comsomol' was set up, but mainly non-Jewish youth were accepted there, the Jewish youth consisted mainly of merchants' children.
The situation of the Zionists was even worse, particularly of the better known ones amongst them. Some of the chalutzim returned home. A call was let out for the youth to volunteer in the mines, deep within Russia. All of the members of the youth movements signed up for work, in order to save themselves from certain death. Some of the older Zionists were arrested and sent to Siberia, (amongst them: Ben-Tzion Demen, Levi Tzinman and others.
The houses were requisitioned. Houses larger than four hundred square meters were "nationalized". The owners were thrown out of their homes, without being told where to go. The prayer houses were also requisitioned. They were turned into warehouses. Everything that smelled of tradition and Jewish-nationalist feeling was undesirable. The books of the "Tarbut" - library went through a selection. The Hebrew books were burned. A portion of the Yiddish books remained, including the classicist - Sholem Aleichem, Peretz, Mendele. Later Peretz and Mendele were also disallowed.
Again: the Zionists and the elders of the shtetl were horrendously tortured with the full aid of the known "chevreh". Every day - new arrests and expulsions.
Amongst those who were sent away were the families of Yaacov Perlman, Avraham & Shlomo Zilberberg, Gukobvsky, Itzik Myonsky, Yosl Aidelman, A.H. Chuck, Fuchs and others. There were also some Christians amongst the deported.
This was on June 13, 1941, at night. For no reason whatsoever hundreds and thousands of inhabitants of all Bessarabian shtetl and shtetlach were awakened, those who were considered "rich" - shopkeepers, property owners, Zionists and others. They received documents as "undesirable" elements for state-security (paragraph 39) who are being distanced from the border areas. They were removed from their homes, each allowed to take only six kilograms of baggage and ordered to get away.
That year elections also took place for the Soviet region. The teachers were sent to agitate in the city and surrounding villages. As candidates the lowest class people were listed. Jews were not amongst the candidates. The agitators argued: "These are the most honest people. The Party put forth their candidates and you should vote for them.
But before the new regime managed to get established, the bad news arrived. The Rumanians are returning and if we will add that together with the Rumanians the Germans are also coming, nobody will be surprised that we were all overwhelmed with fear.
About the outbreak of war between Russia and Germany and about the return of the Rumanians, (the fascist Rumanians were the allies of Germany), all kinds of rumors spread in the shtetl, some true, some false.
In the shtetl a panic broke out on one hand while on the other, distrust of the rumors., Following are three versions of the mood at that time.
Mendl Lieberman tells:
"In the evening of June 22, 194 1, we were in the theater (amateur) - a performance of Shalom Aleichem's one act plays. As we returned home from the theater, we noticed that the military that was in the shtetl, had started to move in the direction of the Prut River, the border between Bessarabia and Romania. In spite of this, everyone was sure that this was merely a maneuver. Nobody imagined that a war had erupted.
"The residents didn't know the true situation, because the news that the radio reported was not the true reality. We lived on rumors. Meanwhile, we felt that the government institutions were preparing to evacuate deep into Russia. Secretly all higher officials were informed, including, Jews, to be prepared to be evacuated. We were informed that for this we need a special passport, because otherwise we won't be allowed to cross the Dniester River, the border between Russia and Romania.. The fear grew and nobody knew what to do. The rulers didn't tell us. Jews started to bury some of their valuables in the ground and they waited. The enemy started to bomb the shtetl. Nobody knew what to do. "
Frieda Kuzminer, a school teacher at that time, in a state run school, and herself a close one to the Russian ruling circles, gives her version:
"Already at the beginning of June rumors were spreading that war was about to break out. The teachers appealed to the Party-House for permission to cross over the Dniester. The reply was: What? You don't have any faith in the strength of the Russian Army? You're creating a panic." But later it turned out that the active ones, officers in the party, including Jews, left with the Russians when the Romanian-German forces approached. As far as I remember, amongst those who withdrew were the Gukofsky family (Maurucia Gukofsky was married to the famous Sholda), Dr. Greenberg, (he also maintained a good relationship with the Russians), Dr. Lerner and others. Dr. Lerner later returned. It was said that he had forgotten his doctor certificate and returned to fetch this. He was captured by the Rumanians and was murdered. Wednesday, July 3rd , the last Soviet authorities and officers left. Some of the Jewish young men were mobilized by the Red Army; amongst them: Yisrael Kolker, Fina Tolfoler, Aron Helfgot, I. Bronstein and others!
Another version is that of Yekl Gold. It seems that it is the most widespread amongst the frightened shtetl inhabitants.
"About the eruption of the war, we became aware through the radio. The Bucharest radio declared: 'The Holy War has started against the Jews and the Bolsheviks. It so happened that that day I met Steinwartz. He said: 'We must run away wherever our eyes carry us'.
"The Fascists Won't Put a Foot In"
In the bank that was directed by Steinwartz, one of the Russians in power gathered all the officials and confidently declared: "No enemy will dare to put a foot in the soil of the Soviet Fatherland There's nothing to fear from the German-Rumanian capturers. " A few hours after this announcment we discovered that the Soviet powers and all officers of the bank are no longer here. Chana Gertzman, who worked in the bank, went to the home of Steinwartz in order to find out what had happened. She found the house empty. On the table there were the remains of a meal.
"The following day around 11:00 a.m. the Russians began to draw back to the Dniester. Shots were heard from many directions. At the edge of the shtetl bombs fell. Afterwards the Russians drew back to the Dniester, leaving the inhabits at random. Then every doubt that the rumors were true, vanished. The question was: 'What should we do now?"
The Russians left. After a few hours of bombardment, "in order to soften up the ground" the Rumanians returned. Various stories circulated about how the Rumanians returned. Each one surpassed the other in its horror.
According to one witness, a cavalry unit first entered headed by an officer, armed with a machine gun. He shot into the houses and yards. The local hooligans, fascists and 'gardistn' met them with bread and salt., It was said that Jews also went to greet the Rumanians with a Rumanian blessing. Moishe Sobleman was at their head. The response to his blessing was a bullet in the head. He fell on the spot in a pool of blood.
About the entry of the Rumanians, Yehuda Kafri, then a mere child, who even to the present day is shocked when he recalls the gruesome hours, has this to say:
"When the Romanian soldiers broke through into the shtetl, they started to shoot into the houses and yards. A terrible panic broke out. Many people locked themselves indoors. Then they began to run to look for family members, in order to, at least, be together at this dreadful time. The church bells started to chime, informing that the shtetl was robbed. Actually, the shtetl fell into the hands of the Rumanians, as a ripe fruit, because the Russians had already left it a few days before. This unnecessary shooting, in order to give the soldiers satanic pleasure, lasted another 2-3 days. From this shooting several hundred Jews lost their lives. Their bodies, that remained on the streets, were later loaded on carts and taken away for burial in the Jewish cemetery."
A few witnesses remained to tell about the murderous acts of the Rumanians towards the Jews from the time they returned to the shtetl and for a few days thereafter.
The day after the Rumanians entered the shtetl, an order was given that all Jews must gather in the yard of the "Fretureh" and there they will hear an important announcement. Most of the Jews remained in their homes, however, with the doors locked, or else they hid. Those who appeared at the gathering were arrested and imprisoned. In the Christian 'Mahales' soldiers passed through and ordered, in the name of the new rulers, to go out to the center of the shtetl in order to rob the property of the Jews Whoever will not go - the warning was - will be punished as a "communist". The Christians naturally, didn't wait for a further "invitation" and fell upon the Jewish streets like locusts. Many of the Christians pointed out to the Rumanian forces which Jews had been active during the Russian regime, or had served in various Russian governmental organs. The latter were brutally treated, wildly struck.
In this robbery and embezzlement there participated both the goyim and 'mahales' as well as the goyim from the surrounding villages, Russians, Gauls and others.
Rachel Skolnick, (who has already passed away) told about this gruesome pogrom.
"The pogrom began in the morning. Some of the Nazi and Romanian soldiers participated who encouraged the peasants to rob from the Jews because they are communists and they hide communists in their homes. Naturally, this was merely an excuse for the pogromists to attack the Jews, to rob them and to rape women and girls."
"First they pogrammed the shops, then they took to the houses and set them afire. They literally burnt the shtetl It was fearsome to see that. "
Rachel Skolnick was shocked, years later, when conveying these particulars.
And Frieda Kuzminer tells: "Friday morning the Rumanians entered . Only three soldiers on motorcycles overtook the whole shtetl. During Friday and Saturday they robbed and created a 'churbun' in the shtetl. Goyim from the surrounding villages and even from distant villages, entered the houses and whatever they couldn't carry off they destroyed: the doors and windows, furniture; they tore the pillows and feathers scattered in the air. It was a frightful sight. Jews locked themselves in their homes, didn't go outdoors, shut their shutters and waited in fear."
Driven by the soldiers, masses of people were pressed into the yard for 'control'; the excuse being the communists were being sought. Frieda Kuzminer (now Mitl) found herself in one of these yards. She tells:
"We were led into the yard between the dispensary of Vaskabinsk and Yosef Adelman's house. Amongst those there were, amongst others, the Pradis family, Yakov Brunstein, Shaindele and Tzvi Aidelman. Shaindele Aidelman was afterwards sent to the dispensary to reestablish order there. In the evening the officer came and asked, who, amongst the crowd is a communist? The people started to be selective. Some who were suspected of being communists were detained and the others were freed. I was amongst those freed.
"So what was one to do? Where was one to go? Instinctively, I ran home. The house had been broken into. I went inside. It was silent. I went through the rooms. Nobody was there. I went out into the yard. A frightful sight, that froze my blood. The yard was scattered with dead bodies- the whole family, grandma and her sister, the neighbors. I was fear struck, shattered. I heard a voice. It's that of my aunt Chaya, who was wounded in her belly. She had been badly shot. 'Save me,' she begged, with her last bit of strength. I managed to get her to the hospital. The following day she died."
Based on official reports and documents of those first two days, Haryeh Karp tells in his book "Transnistria", (we quote from the Yiddish translation of Itzik Wineshenker, a Yedinitzer, that was published by "Bessarabian Jews" Farlag in Buenos Aires, 1950), chapter 1, titled 'shchebot' (mass murders)- Historic Chronology of June 29, 1941 until November 15, 1941".
6th of July, 1941: The Romanian soldiers who, just yesterday evening, occupied the shtetl, Yedinitz, starts to murder the Jewish population. In two days, around 500 Jews were murdered. Jewish women and girls were raped and some of them committed suicide as a result.
7th of July, 1941: All those murdered in Yedinitz were gathered and buried in 3 mass graves. Those who did the burying, all Jews, were afterwards shot. The Jewish population was not allowed to go out to the market, or to have any contact with the Christian population.
The murders, robberies, the rapes and arrests got worse from day to day. It is hard to arrive at a definite chronology from the various witnesses. Some report that certain events preceded others while others say they that they followed. However, what is told here is like nothing when compared to the horrors that happened to the population of the shtetl.
According to a second version, a "commission" was supposed to examine those suspicious of being communists, The commission decides by way of a unique way of drawing lots. They throw two kinds of votes into a container: number 1 and number 2. The suspected ones drew lots, and whoever drew number 1 was considered a communist. These were taken to the Jewish cemetery and shot. 582 souls were murdered in this way. Those who had the good fortune to draw number 2 were first cruelly beaten and then, gradually freed.
It is told that some of the freed ones were brought to the cemetery the following day to bury those murdered during the night. Dreadful scenes played themselves out here. Some buriers encountered their own fathers amongst the dead, others found brothers and other family members.
Yehuda Kafri tells about that horrible night, though it is another version:
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An order was issued that everyone must assemble in the Seminaria. Some came by themselves. Others were grabbed and brought to the assembly place. The large Seminaria yard was overcrowded with people men and women, old and young, children, sick and healthy people. My father and I were also seized and taken to a yard across from the Seminaria. There were approximately 400 people there. Some, including my father, were freed. The others, the younger ones, were lined up in two rows and led to the yard of Chayim Reuven. We were told that at night we would all be killed. It was true. In the evening we were lined up in three groups. Four solders guarded each group with loaded guns. We were told to start marching in the direction of the cemetery. It got dark. I took advantage of this and escaped from the convoy and somehow reached home. It's hard to describe the joy of the family. That night the son of the barber, Yitzhak Vinokor, came to us. He was also with us amongst the young ones. He told us that everyone had been brought to the cemetery where they were told to dig two pits. Then they were put down on their knees beside the open pits. The soldiers fired at them with machine guns right into their faces. Some of those shot immediately fell into the open pits. Others remained laying badly wounded on the ground. Groans and the sounds of people expiring were heard. After a few hours the voices ceased. The soldiers thought they had finished their job and left the spot. Vinokor, though he was wounded, still felt capable to get up on his feet. He made his way out of the cemetery and arrived at our house, wounded and distraught.
Amongst those lucky ones was D. Pinchevsky, who had a book shop. When he returned home it was apparent that he had gone insane.
Frieda Kuzminer's account with that bloody night is a little different:
That day part of the population was taken to the Gypsy Street. A second part, the young people, the pride of the shtetl, were concentrated in the cemetary. They were told to dig a pit and at the open pit they were shot. The noise of the terrible murder shocked those of us who remained. We sought a place to hide. We went into Pradise's house that was already packed full.
Each time important guests visited us, taking out people from there also, in order to kill them. We were lucky, though, and came out of there alive. The following day we returned home. Everything was shattered and destroyed, however blood stains on the walls there was almost no furniture. We remained there for another three weeks. We settled down. We looked for food and ate whatever we were able to lay our hands on. Meanwhile refugees arrived from Lipkou. In Yedinitz they were looking for a possibility to save themselves and settle down.
But it wasn't only the soldiers who were doing the killing. The local gypsies as well as other goyishe residents of the shtetl helped. One who excelled in these murders was Elyashe, the electrical engineer, who had worked all his life in the shtetl, for Jews, and spoke Yiddish like a Jew. It was told that he, with his own hands, murdered Memye Rabinovich, the collector of Shpeyers electro-station.
Four Gallows in Yedinitz
The horrendous martyrology of the Mutzlinacher family was first written up by M. M. Davidson Bais David z''l, the founder and director of the Archive Museum of the Bessarabian Jewry in a publication titled Memorial Pages (in Hebrew Dapim L'zikaron) that appeared in Tel Aviv in 1949. The writer did not give the names of the witnesses who told about this terrible hanging. In the aforementioned brocure a picture is also included of the family who perished.
We consider it necessary to publish the report of M. M. Davidson Bais David, who died in 1966.
All material from the Archive Museum have been donated to the Tel Aviv University. In the Archive Museum there is also a file Yedinitz that consists of several newspaper clippings. Unfortunately this file has been lost.
Below is the notice, as it appeared in the original, with only minor orthographic changes.
The destruction of the Yiddish Yeshiva in Bessarabia is not similar to that of any other land, because, here it was carried out not only with the most terrible means but also with the greatest speed. The order to those in command here was: To carry out quickly and immediately and in three days a whole third of the Jewish population was slaughtered more than one hundred thousand Jews, without any distinction in sex or age.
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The local Moldavians, under the leadership of Rumanian and Nazi instructors, armed with dull butcher knives, axes, scythes, rods and sticks competed with one another, in order to see who will be able to murder the greatest number of Jews
For three days and three nights the shouts of wild human-beasts merged with pitiful painful cries of the beaten-to-death ones, expiring Jews, men, women and children on the streets and in the houses.
But of particular gruesomeness was the annihilation and destruction of the Jews of Yedinitz, Chofin district (presently Beltz region), where, on July 4th, a Friday before Shabbes candle-lighting, a Rumanian commando, numbering 200, led by Rumanian and German instructors, attacked the Jewish population and started their acts of murder by raping and torturing women, regardless of age. For the least opposition they were shot on the spot. That erev Shabbes more than a thousand Jews were murdered here.
But one shudders and one's blood freezes in the veins when one recalls the four gallows that were discovered that Shabbes morning: four gallows: that of a young mother and her three daughters who had been tortured all night in front of the father, the husband. As a result, they found no further purpose in living This was one of the most beloved families in Yedinitz, where the children had received a genuine Jewish national education, parents and children spoke Hebrew
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(cont., square at bottom)
and dreamed of Eretz Yisroel. And father and mother, together with the consent of the children, prepared the four gallows themselves. The first one to be brought to the 'Akaidah' by hanging were the lovely tortured daughters.
Next came the turn of the mother Sima bas Yechezkl of Bais Karmansky who was raised to the gallows by her husband, and he, Dovid ben Ezriel threw himself into the well near his house where he was found dead
Holy Jewish souls who will take up your cause?
Shamed and shocked one repeats the words of the poet, Bialik, and his poem is repeated word for word:
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And with a shudder, Yehuda Kafri (Dorf) states: I saw Aliyosheh killed, with his own hands, Menachem Kogan (the son of Chaim Rumin) I saw Yedinitz goyim murder the wife of Anshul Volpenson and wounded his daughter and many others whom I didn't know by name.
As one can see from all the witnesses, the Jews were concentrated in various places. Regarding the assembly place on the Gypsy Street, where Frieda Kuzminer found herself, Frieda tells:
Sunday morning (the Rumanians entered on Friday), the people started to be taken out, old and young, men and women, from their homes with beatings they were driven to the Gypsy Street. A filthy room had been prepared for them. At both sides of the entrance stood goyim in order to see this mean wonder and grab things that had been stolen from us. We remained almost completely naked. Exactly opposite the entrance there was a dead body, that of Livishchuk's son. We were forced to step on his dead body. Inside there were already Jews, perhaps hundreds of Jews, parts of families, all wounded, hungry, nearly completely naked. They prayed and cried: Sh'ma Yisrael. Nobody knew what would happen. From time to time more people were brought, and were shoved in.
Pinchevsky was brought in, wrangling from his terrible suffering. He told that he had swallowed poison pills, but it appeared that the dose wasn't large enough. And in such a case the body is stronger than the spirit. He was completely jaundiced and fell on the ground. We imagined that he had tried to poison himself because of despair of what had been done in his house. Later they brought in his raped daughters and wife, wounded and with bloody faces. This went on all day.
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In the evening we were taken out, lined up in rows and ordered to march. On both sides of the street goyim stood and beat us on our faces, bodies and heads with sticks. Pinchevsky, at the beginning, struggled along, but he couldn't keep up. On the way I saw him fall down.
In those days the Rumanian ruleruntil 1940 returned to the shtetl. He had seen the behavior of some of the Jews towards the Rumanians and the Rumaniam soldiers when they were leaving the shtetl. He decided to take revenge on the Jews, not differentiating between guilty and innocent.
He gathered the Christian population, gave them a speech of encouragement, and called them to take revenge on the Jews, particularly on the communists, for their conduct towards the Rumanians during their withdrawal. He argued that the Jews had sold Bessarabia to the Bolsheviks and they must pay dearly for this.
This Rumanian officer ordered that every day a group of Jewish boys should be brought to him. They were mercilessly tortured. Many of them died right away. Others were sent by foot, to Chotin where they, supposedly, had to appear before a court. These latter ones disappeared without a trace.
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Murder and plunder was not enough, though, for these wild men. Their beastly appetite they satisfied with sadistic and disgraceful rapes that the carried out in broad daylight.
The elderly woman, Rochel Skolnik z''l also remembers some heroic deeds by men and women and fathers of daughters, who, while protecting the honor of their dear ones, paid with their life. Here are a few examples of these heroic deeds against the beastly treatment of the attackers, about which Frau Skolnik told (not being able to follow, understandably, the exact chronology).
The teacher, Hirsh Kuzminer, organized a group of people in order to protect their families and the honor of forty women and children who had been hiding in a cellar. It was only because of this opposition that there was success in not allowing soldiers who broke into the cellar, to rape the women. But all to the last man, were shot on the spot and died as martyrs.
Shimon Koval, with his last bit of strength, fought with the murderers who wanted to rape his daughters. He also was murdered, and after him his whole household.
Isaac Livak and his relatives tried in vain to protect the honor of their wives and daughters. Their fate was the same as those mentioned above.
Let us stress that at the head of these hooligan rapists, the sons of the local gypsies, Katzapes was the gypsy fiddler Ivanitza, who played the Hatikvah at the bazetzn of the bride at all Jewish weddings. He pointed out where to find Jewish women and girls so that the shkotzim could despoil together with them.
Munyeh ben Chayim Rabinovich also tried to protect the honor of his sister. The murderers first raped the sister and then shot both of them.
Velveleh Ludmir, together with a group of young men, tried to protect the honor of mothers and their daughters. Every one of them was shot.
The four Privlitnik brothers fought with their last bit of strength to protect their homes and the honor of their families. They were all murdered together with their families.
Hersh Rosenberg stood up to the robbers in his yard. He paid with his life.
Dovidl and Mechal from the Posht didn't want to relinquish their horses to the soldiers because this was their livelihood. In vain they were murdered.
Yechiel Blanc had the same fate. So did Chayim Reuven Gruzman, Yisroel Elkes, Yisroel Gurwitz and others.
The butchers organized self-defence. Another 40 people joined them, taking their work tools axes & knives, & protected their homes & the honor of their wives & daughters. They all fell, however, after a heroic fight.
In spite of all the horrors that she had witnessed & heard of, Fran Skolnik wondered how she could endure it all & lived after all the tzores. She also remembers the names of some who were sacrificed, who fell during their wandering & in the camps of Transnistria:
Rochel Poliak (the sister of Mordecai Reicher) & her son Yaacov. Rochel, the mother of Tzviya Weinstein & their families; Nachum Zislman & his wife. Yaacov Yisroel Maier & his family; Zalman Leib Bodner, his wife & their two sons; Yitzhak Moishe Kovel & the members of his family. Tanchum Vereta; Avraham Milberg; Yosef Valsberg. Motl fun der brick & his two daughters; Shlomo Yesheya Kallis, his wife & sons; the mother & two brothers of Shacher; Berl Broustein, his wife & three sons; Kopl Katzav & wife; Fishl Moishe Maier Katzav, his wife & 2 children; Tuvya Yaiechnik & his wife.
the village of Farkeveh the families of Moishe & Yisroel Farkever; the husband of Chana Feldman was murdered in the village Russen.
The worst case of all the above mentioned cases is the story of the Four Gallows of the family of Dovid Mutzlmacher, the haberdashery shopkeeper on the Torhavitzeh. Rochel Skolnik told about this. This case was also written about by other witnesses & appeared in a publication Dapim L'zikaron published by M.M. Davidson zL. (This is given separately editor.)
The pogromchikes raped Dovid Mitzlmacher's wife & 3 daughters all night, in front of the father's eyes. This was the night of Friday/Saturday (July 4-5, 1941); before daybreak, when the goyim went away, the father & mother, with the consent of the daughters, prepared four gallows in the attic of the house. After the self-sacrifice of the woman & the three daughters, the father took his own life, throwing himself into the well that was in the yard of the church, opposite their house.
The family Klopman. The woman & her daughters lived on the Gypsy Street. Their neighbors, the gypsies, raped the daughters, who, that same night, committed suicide. The unfortunate mother tried to hang herself with a rope but the rope tore & she remained alive. She went crazy as a result.
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