“..Most of ..victims of Transnistria have neither individual graves nor tombstones.” Felicia Carmelly.
I am chasing shadows and no matter how far I travel, or have travelled within this odyssey that I have sought to explore, The Holocaust offers up insights into a human behaviour which needs expanding upon. In this quest to comprehend, and it is my understanding that Humanity does not represent the terror nor the horror that was visited upon the Jewish People correctly. Unless civilisation can at least show an empathy that is both sympathetic and worthy of all humanity, we will further gather from the wrong lessons, our way forward. The Holocaust in itself becomes an insight into the degradation of all our humanity, and for what some would seek to perpetrate against a Jewish People, simply for being Jews.
“..When we realize how dispersed over natural and social space ..Jewish People are ..how differently Jews are affected by social ..cultural ..intellectual elements ..variability in their conceptions of themselves is hardly to be wondered at. Even within ..same highly complex societies ..different Jews are affected by different sets of circumstances ..and so a variety of different kinds of reshaping occurs. There is ..a sense of awareness ..recognition that ..all are Jews ..understanding of which is so variable as to be dazzling.” Leon Goldstein.
It has never been my intention to stray past the closed perameters of The Holocaust period in search of the commencement for this, the most unprecedented, unparalled and uniquely expressed atrocity ever perpetrated. But a part of that effort, in appraising all those who seek to comprehend what will always remain incomprehensible, is in recognizing the inter causal relationship religious belief has in assailing the Jews for their belief system. Any defence of the humanity which must fight against the basest of instincts, all too readily promoted by a virulent minority, and while in search of power, must be detained, constrained and erased from the furtherance of their hatred.
“..Transnistria became ..cemetery for more than 200,000 Jews. Their story is little known. ..entire story will never be known.” Julius Fisher.
That single demand for Power, focused as it was upon the Jews of Europe and which seeks to diminish the rights of all or any People, will always promote its divisive call against any they deem fit. The early call, perhaps as early as 1931 when Hitler gained a foothold in power, but should we then ignore the murderous hatred which attacked and murdered any Jew prior to this, on the basis of Hitler’s hatred for them. We know that on September 19th. 1930 Hitler’s lackey, Joseph Goebbels, threatens that any attempt upon Hitler’s life will be met by a ‘pogrom’ against the Jewish Population of Germany, a clear indication of the reprehensible position for the Jew within Germany.
“..After my Mother was Murdered ..I was deported together with my Father to Transnistria. We have spent many weeks on a penal trek of sorts. For days we have been slogging along roads deep in mud ..a lengthy convoy surrounded by Romanian and Ukrainian soldiers who flog and shoot at us. Father holds my hand tight ..my feet no longer touch ..ground. ..sound of ..water slices at my legs and my hips. It’s dark all around ..apart from Father’s hand I don’t feel a thing. Truth to tell ..I don’t feel his hand either ..since my hand is alreadly partly numb. If I move just a little I’ll surely drown. Even Father won’t be able to pull me out. Lots of Children have already drowned this way. I fall asleep ..still clutching his hand. But not for long. While the sky is still dark ..soldiers light up ..convoy with sniping and gunfire. Father holds my hand and tugs me. ..mud is deep and I can’t feel ..bottom. I’m still half alseep and tremendously afraid. It hurts. I call out. Father hears my call and answers at once. Make it easier for me. Make it easier.” Aharon Appelfeld.
The Holocaust, which has struck so deep at anything we would regard as civilisation has wreaked its response upon a shallowness orchestarted by those who knew full well what was happening to the Jews. From then on, The Holocaust, and here in the area to be known as Transnistria that I wish to explore here, that clear division between race and hatred was sought and sewn by Hitler and his erstwhile group of vagabonds. Here, people and states as diverse as Germany, Austria, Hungary, Italy, Byelorussia, Romania, Estonia, Lithuania, Ukraine, Poland and Latvia, who all saw in a 2,000 year history of antisemitism, a vengeful response which would sweep aside all morality.
“..There were 70,000 Jews Czernowitz. ..transported to Transnistria. ..Myself ..my Daughter ..my Son in Law and 2 week old baby. ..we did not take anything with us ..most important thing was to get ..Child out. ..Jews stood on ..street ..waiting to be taken to ..railway carriages ..we waited ..whole day ..until evening ..they told us there were no more carriages ..so we went back into ..Ghetto. ..we ..wore yellow star ..whole time. ..Practically all our acquaintances were deported to Transnistria.” Abraham Jakob Mark.
What is now more understood, antisemitism is the hatred of the Jewish People for being Jews, wrestles with that immoral gain for a power that cost 6,000,000 Slaughtered Jewish lives. Transnistria, and though there is no geographical region on pre-War maps which contain an area such as Transnistria, which literally translated as, from across the River Nistria, or transitting the Nistria is indellible now in Jewish blood. The newly established territory measured some 16,000 square miles and was clearly consuming and designated resettlement of the killing area for Romanian Jewry, and particularly those of Bessarabia, Bukovina and Moldova.
“..June 18th. 1941 Kishinev was occupied by German ..Romanian troops. ..military authorities tried to determine ..how many Jews ..in ..City.” Ilya Ehrenburg.
It was located in an area of South Western Ukraine, positioned along the line of the City of Moghilev-Podolsky at its Northern reaches, to the Black Sea at the Southern extremity, with the River Bug in the East and the Dniester River to the West defining this confining area. In this region of the Ukraine, some 300,000 Jews were already living here and way before Hitler launched operation Barbarossa. This attack on Russia, on June 22nd. 1941 should not have come as any surprise who had read exactly what Hitler had boasted, prophesised and bleated about incessantly. For the Jews here, they were ill prepared for what descended upon them, as a People who had secured for itself a matter of civilisation.
“..There was no favouritism before misery and death.” Meier Teich.
Transnistria is now borne along by the tide of misery and death an assault upon the very integrity of not only those Jewish People living there, but the influx of Romanian Jews forced to resettle there. All of these Jewish People, who will be supervised into 13 separate regions, will find their future persistence orchestrated by the Nazi administration and its cohorts aimed at ensuring they would no longer exist. The clear intention in this holding area, as it was with the Ghetto’s established throughout Poland, was to deliver each and every single Jew ejected from Romania to Transnistria, to the Death Camps in Poland at a later stage.
“..1941 ..Germans ..in ..Vinnitsa district ..forced all ..Jews to ..work. They tortured ..beat us with whips. ..gave us leaves ..grass to eat. ..In 1942 ..drove us into ..stadium ..young Men ..Women ..murdered ..Children ..old ..taken away to ..forest. ..completely surrounded us ..started killing us. ..for 3 days blood flowed into ..earth. I was 10.” Nyunya Dovtorovich.
Transnistria was a burgeoning reservoir of human despair, Jewish Men, Women and Their Children all perishing while awaiting a further resettlement to any of the 6 Death Camps in Poland so as to perish within them. Romania provided a primary source of the military influence in this designated area, and the clearly defined areas within what was to become Transnistria are these:
“..Throughout .. Camp ..silence of a graveyard and a stifling feeling prevailed. ..in ..building were distorted people ..some of them completely naked ..some covered with rags. ..we entered ..long ..clean hall in which ..stench of death also lingered. ..in ..depths of ..hall stood a holy ark made of 4 planks of wood. ..we sat down among ..worshippers. ..Women ..Men .. older Children ..some ..so bloated we could not recognize them ..almost dying. ..all shaking from cold and sickness. ..one of ..Women wished us all a chatima tova and announced that everybody was fasting that day. Suddenly ..a tall desicated male figure appeared ..with ..face of a skeleton. It was ..shaliach tzibbur ..rabbi. ..entire congregation gathered there prayed and cried with him.” Bella Rot.
“..When ..war began in 1941 ..they came to Mogilev-Podolsk ..drove all ..Jews into ..Pechera Camp ..Tulchin. ..they shot my Parents. ..we overheard ..all Juden would be killed. We ran. ..many of us were killed.” Roza Lindvor.
12) Tiraspol, and
“..Einsatzgruppe and ..Einsatzkommandos ..informed of their tasks ..given ..necessary orders. ..Streckenbach of ..RHSA ..transmitted ..orders of Heydrich and Himmler. ..the liquidation order. ..Himmler told me that before ..Russian campaign Hitler had spoken of this mission to ..army groups and ..commanding generals ..to provide ..necessary support. ..order for ..liquidation ..given to Himmler.” Otto Ohlendorf.
Bella Rot was born in Balta and suffered through the most excrutiating privations ever experienced by a violated Jewish People while in the Scazinets Camp. Wehn, as Ohlendorf and his team of Einsatzgruppe D Murderer’s, Barth, Bierkamp, Haussmann, Heimbach, Kristmann, Muller, Nosske, Persterer, Roeder, Schubert, Schultz, Schumann, Seetzen, Seibert, Toegel, Trimborn, Werner and Zapp amongst the many, moved to their killing operation, they shot to death, coldly and deliberately a pre-eminence of all the Jewish People that they encountered.
Also, and while in operation, all 4 of the Einsatzgruppe raged aginst Eastern Jewry were adequately supplied by the forces engaged in Hitler’s Weltanschauung.
“..In Dubina ..Jews were put into a large barn with broken doors and windows. They pushed 400 people into this room meant for animals. By ..end ..only 40 people remained alive. Every day they died like flies ..from disease ..hunger ..cold. Romanian soldiers prevented them from going out to look for food.” Chana Luketsher Wroshavskia.
Here too we add to the indictment of a history that has not adequately damned, condemned nor judiciouly sanctioned enough of those guilty of these Crimes Against Humanity. These Einsatz killer’s, who ran a line of logistic’s that was well supported by the Reich, gained all supplies necessary from all elements and ranks of a military not confined to military operations alone. This logisitcal imperative was to include assistance from elements of the Hunagarian and Romanian forces who were also employed in the kill region. We have to identify clearly that the logisitical effort to take Hitler’s vanguard toward Odessa ran through the area we have now given identity to as Transnistria.
“..Transnistria has definitely been ..forgotten cemetery. ..All of us owe a debt to history ..to ourselves ..to ..memory of those victims ..our own flesh and blood ..as well as to those who have no one left to remember them.” Dr. Shlomo Leibovici Lais.
While the forces of War were primarily led by Hitler, Keitel, Jodl, Runstedt, Schobert, Manstein, Kleist, Stuelpnagel and Reichenau for the Wehrmacht, they were supported by close on 1 million men. With legions also of Romanian forces, we recognise too there was complicity in the names of Arbore, Cieperca and Dumitrescu. Also, the Hungarian Army also supplied its own force and it too required logistical support as it afforded aid, under Jany, in ensuring Hitler’s every aim in securing The Final Solution was administered to. Both the military and certainly the Genocidal successes were swift in those initial months of the campaign.
“..born in ..Vagila on ..Seret River ..now 15 ..yet to see anything good. ..took all of us to ..Edintsy Camp. I suffered ..saw death right before my eyes. ..In a single day both my beloved Parents died. ..What was lost will never return.” Enya Valtser.
As was witessed, the length and breadth of the Russian theatre of operations, the Wehrmacht tore through Russian defences and their defenders like a knife through butter. When, on August 30th. 1941, there was to be the question of the administartion of these Jews in Transnistria, it was given added attention by both the German and Romanian bureaucrats. By now, the escalation and ferocity of the murder process was spread wider and now, as the Ukrainian militia added its weight to der Einsatzgruppe, all efforts were now being reinforced by all agencies in the region. Then, as this campaign gained in its systematic momentum, the clear engagement of der Einsatzgruppe too grew in viciousness.
“..My family was lucky not to be killed in ..early days of ..genocide. We weren’t caught in ..Ghetto or arrested during police raids.” Josef Bursug.
The sheer brutality of these murder operatives grew in intensity as the numbers of Jews being massacred accelerated beyond any scale ever measured. In the region of Transnistria too that was to prove fundamental to the intention of Romanian forces to secure for itself a good standing in Hitler’s vision of the Final Solution for all Jews. However, it would simply be wrong to criminalise every aspect of the support afforded to those forces engaged by Hitler in the 2 wide ranging plans to emerge here in Transnistria. All along the entire Russian Front we also recognise that the War ran parallel to Hitler’s murderous intention for all the Jewish People.
“..reality of The Holocaust surpassed any imagination. ..If I remained true to ..facts ..no one would believe me.” Aharon Appelfeld.
The Jewish Peopl were being swept up in the most horrific, unprecedented, unparalled and grieveously unique Slaughter in all of History. Also, and given the role of military manager’s in the campaign to deliver for Hitler a victory, we cannot ignore the wanton criminal demands brought to bear upon an innocent Jewish People. In the midst of these campaigns, logistics dictated that the supply and the communications network was essential for any unit working within the lines of Army command. Along 3,000 miles of territory this would ensure that der Einsatzgruppe could be stocked up with all the necessary ingredients for the massive killing operations they would undertake.
“..From all ..towns in ..area ..People were sent off on foot to Transnistria, with no exceptions.” Josef Bursug.
As many as 150,000 Bessarabian Jews were transported toward Transnistria and would be consumed there, as would some 130,000 ejected from Bukovina. Romania began the deportation of its Jewish People on July 18th 1941 with the transportation of 4,000 Lipkany Jews who were expelled toward Transnistria in a relentless stream of torture. With the only prospect for these Jews without food, water and the means to secure anything adequately resembling a way of life, they were forfeit in all but in seeking some form of hope, now to be gained elsewhere. Every ounce of human endeavour would be brought to bear upon a sought after existence that would not be made possible by inhuman Nazi efforts.
“..In Transnistria ..mere act of surviving was an act of resistance ..a triumph of ..human spirit.” Felicia Carmelly.
By September 15th. 1941 more than 150,000 Romanian Jews had been readied for deportation to Transnistria and 90,000 of these Jewish Men, Women and Their Children would be Murdered along the way, many as they sought to navigate their way across the Dneister River. Eventually, and during November 1941, the largest containment of deproted Jews in the Transnistrian cachment area were in the Concentration Camps of Acmecetka, Bogdanovka and Dumanovka. It must also be remembered here that Transnistria accounted for some 120 other Camps for the Concentration of the Jews there.
“..Romanians left People to die with no shelter ..no heating material ..no warm clothes. There was diphtheria ..typhus and forced labor. There was no money to be earned anywhere ..and People died by 100’s every day.” Josef Bursug.
Along with the Ghetto’s, these Camp corals detained the Jews who were dispatched there, simply long enough for the annihilation process or as the progressive stealth of death by starvation, disease and the punitive measures of a hate filled Nazi administration ensured no Jew was to survive. Here the Jewish People subsisted, driven to hunger, despair and the abject terror of being witess to the massacre of their People in places like Acmecetka, Alexandrovka, Ananiev, Arva, Balanovca, Balta, Balki, Bar, Bershad, Bogdanovka, Bondarovca, Brailovka, Bricheni, Britovka, Budi, Bukov, Byrzula, Cariscov, Carlovka, Codima, Conotcauts, Cucavka and Cuzmints.
“..150,000 Jews once lived in Chernivtsi ..and surroundings. During ..war ..15,000 were allowed to stay. Some 10,000 returned from Transnistria. In other words ..roughly 120,000 people died.” Josef Bursug.
The Jewish People were likewise called upon to survive in the sheer hope that survival would be possible and that they were living a nightmare that would end for them all. History assures us this was never going to be the case and it proved accurately so and in other places such as Capustani, Capusterna, Cariera de Piatra, Cazachiovka, Chanovka, Chernivtsi, Chetvartinovka, Chimasovca, Clocotma, Crasnoje, Crijopol, Crivoie-Ozero, Dabasari, Derebchin, Dimidovka, Djurin, Dumanovka, Frunza, Golta, Gorai, Grabivts, Grosulovo, Iampol, Israilivka, Halchintsi, Hrinovka, Kopaigorod, Kosolovka, Ladijn, Laroga, Larshev, Lohova, Lozova, Luchinets and Luchinik.
“..We came to Obodovka. ..there we met Levis Zania ..his Wife ..many people from Kishinyevski Street ..Wife of ..lawyer Lifshitz ..Mordechai Fod ..Yasha Tzirlonik ..Shimon Galanter and others. ..they welcomed ..us and pushed us into a stable instead of ..animals where we suffered from the terrible cold. ..to this hell ..wretched and miserable of Giurgiu ..Romania ..also arrived ..among them Bori Feldman and his Family ..Lyoba and her Sister. ..many of those in ..stable died. ..life in Transnistria was a hell of torment and suffering.” Goldiak Wolf.
Also concerning, as the nightmare heightened there was no respite in these places Mala-Kiriuka, Maly-Trostinets, Manikovka, Maronovka, Mikhailowka, Mishkovka, Moghilev, Molochnia, Mostovoi, Murafa, Nesterovka, Nicolaevka, Nimrats, Obodovka, Odessa, Oleanitsa, Olgopol, Ostia, Ozarinets, Pancovka, Pavlovka, Pechiora, Popivits, Raschtadt, Rybnitsa, Savrani, Scazinets, Shargorod, Slidi, Slivina, Scazinets, Stanislovchek, Stefanka, Suha-Balka, Sumiliva, Tatarovka, Tiraspol, Tivriv, Tulchin, Tridubi, Trihati, Tropova, Tsibuliovka, Vapniarka, Varvarovka, Vaslinivo, Vazdovka, Vendicheni, Verhovka, Vigoda, Vitovka, Vladislavka, Voroshilovka, Zabokirit, Zatisia and Zemrinka.
“..December 18th. 1941 About 28,000 Jews have been taken to German villages in Transnistria ..in ..meantime they have been liquidated.” Franz Rademacher.
Most of these Jews were taken from Bessarabia, Survivor’s of the Towns and Ghetto of Golta, Romanian and Ukrainian Jews, all brought together so as to ensure an enslaved labour force could be available for the Reich. The scale and intensity of the killing operation though grew steadily and toward January 1942 it was clear, no Jew was meant to ever survive the onslaught. As the detail of this massive undertaking grew, so too did the communication of its destructive capacity and its relationship to the Jewish presence which was fast disappearing. What is clear from these Operational Situation Reports, issued by der Eisnatzgruppe to Hitler’s desk, is the very detailed nature of the massacre of the Jewish People.
“..We knew what was going on in Transnistria. Relatives from Bessarabia were there. We received letters ..but not in ..mail ..of course. I remember one German officer who brought us letters ..and we gave him money.” Josef Bursug.
What is also clear, Allied intelligences knew clearly what was happening, and what these murderous formations were engaged in, and more tragically, the desperate and destructive resolve of Hitler that was being meted out to those Jews the Nazi cohorts encountered. Certainly, and by the end of April 1942, phase one of a der Einsatzgruppe sweep had been completed and in Transnistria, there were barely one third of those Jews who had been squeezed into it still alive. The calamity was assured by the adoption of the myriad of Einsatz methods of murder and disposal, with the shootings and Gassing Van operations complimenting the killing operation.
“..I was born in Chernivtsi Ukraine in 1941. My Father was conscripted by ..Soviets ..my Mother ..Sister and I were deported to Transnistria. ..liberated. ..with a belief in progress and evolution of human awareness towards ever more enlightened thinking. ..it almost seemed as if this would happen and that we’d all love each other and live happily ever after.” Sylvia de Swaan.
This murderous machinery of destruction was ably assisted by both Wehrmacht participation, Waffen SS and SS, SD involvement and well assisted by the Ukranian militia. Involved heavily were also German Volksdeutscher and these were largely bolstered by both the Romanian and Hungarian force of haters. All of these perpetrators were aligned seamlessly and singularly to what history knows is The Final Solution of The Jewish Question. So swift was the rush to complete the miltary and Jewish situation, Hitler’s forward HQ, the Werewolf near, Vinnitsa, brought Hitler within earshot of his own resolution of the Jewish Question, and not for the first time.
“.. After the outbreak of war with Russia ..apart from Bessarabia and Bukovina ..areas between ..Rivers Dniester and Bug ..what was then called by a new geographic name ..Transnistria.” Dr. Theodor Loewenstein.
The Werewolf bolt hole, which saw Hitler in residence there from July 16th. 1942 till October 30th. 1942, brought him closer to the front line. Here too, and this too would be a primary consideration, it was where he could gain first hand evidences of the aktionen. Particularly evident now would be the combined efforts of his charges against these Jews in his Transnistria resettlement reservor. Here, where we saw more than 60,000 expelled Romanian Jews still surviving, and who were merely 20 miles away was close enough for his comfort. With Himmler at the facility, July 25th. 1942, the conversation would centre around the participation of his Reich in the annihilation process.
“..I can’t take any more ..I’m giving up now. ..Kisses ..be strong ..Selma.” Selma Meerbaum.
For many a Reich agency like VoMi, and those many Volkesdeutcher participating in the Jewish Slaughter, there was the immediate move to ensure 60,000 more Jews were annihilated. For this 17 year old Jewish Young Lady, Selma Meerbaum was born in Czernowitz, Bukovina, and death came to her on December 16th. 1942 as she struggled to survive in the Michailowka Camp of Transnistria. Selma remains as one of the 6,000,000 Jews of The Holocaust barely known to history, but recalled here so that we do not allow the World to forget her. At War’s end, with more than 60% of local Ukrainian Jews, who were added to the Slaughter of other Jews resettled to the area, this has been an incalculable annihilation that history has lost sight of.
“..in Czernowitz. ..4 SS men came into our house ..with 2 armed soldiers. They went into my Husband ..Abraham Jakob Mark’s room and demanded 1,000 trucks from him. ..He didn’t reply to their demand. Then they asked about jewellery. ..Who has jewellery. ..It is out of ..question for ..Chief Rabbi of Czernowitz to give ..names of people who have jewellery. On Wednesday Morning ..they took some 150 or 160 more people from ..Cultural Centre and from ..Schwarzer Adler Hotel out of ..cellar ..down to ..River Prut ..and there they were shot. ..didn’t know where my husband’s grave was ..I wanted to bury ..body” Perla Mark.
To curry favour with the Allies, Romania and its leadership held the tail of a tiger and then, in realising it was now on the losing side, delivered some of the few of Romania’s Jews, who were still alive in Transnistria, back to Romania. It has to be remember here, that prior to Romania entering the War on Hitler’s side, when there were between 760,000 and 850,000 Romanian Jews, the Jewish persistance was now ended for all too many of these. Though some of those many Jews, stateless at the time, who were only seeking refuge from Hitler’s Germany and Austria, they too are accumulated in a reservoir of Jewish Blood that has been eradicated.
“..Today Transnistria is an historic phantom ..having vanished without a trace. But in Jewish history it is inscribed in blood and tears ..it will never be forgotten. Transnistria spells horror ..horror that defies description ..savage revolting acts of cruelty and bestiality ..in which one group of men torture ..rob .. and destroy their helpless victims in cold blood. Transnistria symbolizes genocide.”Julius Fischer.
Of these all too many Jews murdered in Transnistria, there are estimates which add more than 450,000 Romanian Jews to the Slaughter. It is a fact too that the Jews of Romania had experienced the advent of a brutality that raged within Romania prior to their decapitation from their nation and life. Here, and within the desolate land we know as Transnistria, for what not human being should expect, it was wholly delivered toward Jewish People in extremis and without care nor consideration. Humanity took a dive, and as with the entire confrontation with the notion of civility, culture and humanity, The Holocaust has driven a spear through the heart of the mere idea.
“..In Israel ..because it was a society of Survivors and because they did not tell their Children ..there’s a great dark hole in ..lives of their Children ..and this hole can create curiosity. But much more it creates superficiality. this absence of ..experience of ..parents ..made ..Children Israelis.” Aharon Appelfeld.
While it is true that some 400,000 Romanian Jews managed to live out both Hitler’s, and even Romania’s intention for them, it has nothing to do with Romanian humanitarian concern that any Romania Jew survived. Romania’s resolve to add to that intention for die Ensdlosung der Judenfrage, ensures we cannot so easily displace 400,000 Romanian Jews from memory as they were likewise Slaughtered. From the conscious memory of time, from the science of recorded history, can we ever negate the factual truth testified to. From the recall of that often expressed inhumanity which this deliberate assault upon Jewish integrity stresses, humanity will forget this at its peril.
“..Today ..area which was called Transnistria is strewn with mass graves ..along country roads and ditches ..forests ..fields ..anti-tank trenches. ..final resting place where ..crimes of ..German ..Romanian ..Ukrainian ..Lithuanian murderers are concealed. Not a monument ..or any kind of marker alerts a visitor to ..gruesome crimes covered under ..lush orchards ..thick grain fields ..beautifully landscaped parks.” Felicia Carmelly.