Sunday, August 12, 2007

Romanian Holocaust: 24 hrs Pogroms in Bucovina, 1941.

(Miriam M., Melbourne, Australia).

I have come across an old, well-worn copy of a little book in Rumanian, at an elderly Czernowitzer's home, with the title: "Pogromurile din Bucovina si Dorohoi." By Marius Mircu, 1945.( Editura GLOB Bucuresti.)

It documents every village, where pogroms took place almost all at the same time, in particular during one 24hour period, at the beginning of July, 1941, when the local population was given free rein by the Rumanian army ( General Duca--) to do whatever they wanted to the Jews. There are names listed, of both the victims and perpetrators, plus some official reports of apparent 'trials' after the events!.

My Rumanian is very rusty, but I can still make out that it makes gruesome reading in its detail. I didn't know the extent of the horrors which befell those communities, including my mother's family,- the first village mentioned in the book being Ciudin(Ciudei).
The same author lists other publications about the horrors perpetrated in other towns and communities in Romania.
Having put it on the “Czernowitz (Bucovina's principal city)-list”, people asked about their families’ towns and names for me to look up.
Here are some of the requests and my research results.


I read your forwarded email from Bruce Reisch about pogroms carried out by the Rumanian army in 1941. My wife's grandmother, Celia Retter, was from Sadagora. Celia was born in Sadagora 1898. She left when she was 16 as the Russian army advanced on the town. Celia came to the United States after the First World War when she and her husband were not able to obtain papers for Eretz. She died several years ago at the age of 106. My wife, Anya, and I have an interest in the history, even the dark moments, of Sadagora. We are curious what happened to other members of the Retter family. Please send any information about Sadagora that you have.

Thank you & warm regards,

Preston Grant

Dear Mr. Grant,
I shall try to translate a little of what they write about Sadagura on that eventful night and afterwards..

" In Sadagura (Czernowitz district) lived about 654 Jews as well as Ukrainians, Poles and Romanians.
One Sunday morning, (the fateful 24 hrs. after the retreat of the Russians) a Romanian patrol of 4-5 young men entered the town and settled in the City Hall, taking it over (names given). Their country!
They formed themselves into a 'National Guard' and at 9pm, armed with guns, they went from house to house (obviously Jewish) and took out the people, undressed as they must have been at that hour,- 72 persons, men, women and children and took them to the City Hall. Later in the middle of the night, they marched them to an open field where a long trench had been prepared, lined them up facing the trench and shot them in the back into the trench. Some 50 locals assisted them."

Individuals and families are named,- those murdered and a few who managed to escape by various means in the commotion. The author then seems to question why in the 4 days it took for the Romanian army to reenter the town after the Russians retreated, did they not flee from there? Why did they not hear of the '24hr.' dictate and waited until the few Romanian soldiers came to kill them?
He puts it to the fact that the Jews and the local non-Jews lived very well together, as they did in other parts of Bukovina. Apparently, 'with a heavy heart', the locals excused themselves that 'only 70 out of the 654 were killed'!

" On th Monday night, the same band took all the Jews out of their homes and took them again to the City Hall. Tuesday a Judicial Commission was instituted.
Those who were considered Communists were detained in the camp there. The rest were freed. Why were they all taken there in the first place (asks the author?)
Various other murders took place in the town over the next few days. 4 men (named) were taken from their workplace, shot and pushed into the still open trench. Only later were the families allowed to bury the dead in the cemetery, finding them totally disfigured and dismembered.
All the Jews of Sadagura were taken to Forced Labor,- men and women, their property confiscated, their former employees allowed to insult them and on the Sabbath in particular, the most devout were especially
assaulted and forcibly marched down the main street in torn clothing. The Mayor in particular enjoyed this sport until another mayor took over and stopped it.
There was another camp in Sadagura where they put also part of the Jews from Storojinetz. (with more atrocities!)"
Among all the names listed, I found no one by the name of your grandmother's family,- Retter. Was that her maiden name? If you have other names, I can check them for you.

Best regards,
> Shalom ,
> Thank you very much for the information.
> I would like to know about two villages where my parents were
> born: Rus Banila (or Banila pa Cermush) (family Schaier)
> Drachinetz.(family Birnbaum) my fax is 972 - 2 - 6251478
> (please indicate on the copy: :for Dr. Shafir)

Dear Dr. Shafir,
I can see only about Dracinet that approx. 120 were killed and about Banila pe Siret only,- "a few Jews were shot. The rest were sent to Ciudei" (where my mother's family lived and where apparently the whole 24 hr. pogrom started).. No names for these towns appear.

Best regards,
> Hi Randy,
I sent you by separate email some URLs for JewishGen/Yzkor Book, describing what happened in Ciudin.
The whole thing started apparently because 4 men, representatives of the Communist Party, in June 1940 went to greet what they thought was the Russian army, carrying red flags.. They were Conrad Kreiss, Knoll Udelsmann and another two intellectuals. Unfortunately they met a retreating battalion of Rumanians, reg.16 Dorbantz (whatever that means)led by one Major Carp, who gave the order for the 4 to be bound. After they dismembered them and bashed their heads-in, they tied them and with their bayonets cut them to pieces!!!!
When the Russian army arrived, they took the 4 massacred victims to Czernowitz and they were interred with all the honours of heroes.The following year, after the Russians retreated, the first army to return was the whole battalion 16, with Major Carp at the head. Wednesday morning 4th July 1941, the Russians retreated and in the evening the Rumanians entered. Thursday morning, the news spread among the peasants that for 24 hrs, they could do whatever they wanted with the Jews.The rest of the guesome details you can read on JewishGen. Of 70 Jewish families, only 3-4 escaped,- 572 people were murdered.

It was this 24hr. 'decree',- the personal revenge of the one Major, that spread like wildfire, it appears, across the whole Bucovina, because all the Jews were labelled Communists.

In Milia, all the Jews, 176 of them, were murdered and the gruesome details are described,- but I cannot describe them. He names some people, -Dr. Iacob Geller,- and also states that "it must be understood that all had lived with good understanding between them and the others without envy or bad blood. But this did not stop the local populationfrom participating in the killing and plunder afterwards."
The only ones who escaped were Dr. Lustig with his father-in law, Moses Haim Nagel. The locals checked all the dead to make sure that no Jews escaped, as well as all their homes.

In Rastoace, there were more Jews because many had fled there from the surroundng areas. All were muredered, some 320 in number. Only family Stier, 8 members, escaped and were later transported to Transnistria. The massacre was executed by the locals, even neighbours who had lived well with each other! The author writes that he wants to repeat it to "absurd extremes", because one cannot explain the besteality of those people. Even those refugees who were fleeing from elsewhere were killed. The refugees came from Sipote, Vijnita, Seletin, Putila. The locals even killed 50 Russian retreating soldirers,- this happened only in Rastoacea. From them they managed to get the necessary arms to kill the Jews.

Vijnitza must have details in JewishGen-Yizkor book as well. 90% of the population was Jewish apparently. Once the rumour reached the peasants that they have "the 24 hours" they started to go door-to-door and stripped the people naked, cleaned them up of jewellery and money then killed them or if they didn't find enything, they killed them because they didn't find anything!
But apparently, "only" 23 Jews were actually butchered, because on the second day, a new Major entered the town(somebody Petruc from Vatra Dornei) and he stopped it immediately,- otherwise all would have been murdered. He was very decent and helped the jews by giving them the rations left behind from the Russians and then divided also some money among them. Unfortunately 14days later this Major was killed on the front. The murdered Jews were later interred in the 100ds-of-years Old Cemetery, in a communal grave.
I don't know the fate of the rest later, but they must have ended up in Transnistria.
I think that this about covers most of what I can make out! Hope it helps you.
Have you found the book on the internet, that you gave me the pages from? Please send me the URL. It will make it easier to send it to those who might still understand Romanian.
Your newest email is of special interest to me. I've been searching unsuccessfully for years for information about my grandmother, Anna Schmerz and my aunt, Yetta or Yetti Schmerz -- who I believe were victims of the bloody events that took place in Cernauti, Romania in 1941.

It's been extremely frustrating til now and your information offers the potential of learning something.
I don't have a fax available, but if you could check the list and find the names of my relatives, I'll find a friend with a fax to receive the information.

Many thanks for your generosity and concern in keeping the Cz list informed.

Selma Schmerz

Dear Selma,
I checked the Cernauti pages in the book, but did not come across the names you mentioned.
Of course, there were many Jews there in the big city, so I suggest that your best bet is to look up JewishGen/Yizkor book

Best regards,

> Dear >
> My name is Fred. Weisinger. I was quite interested in
> your article about Czernowitz. You see I was born
> there and lived through the ocupation period. I was
> back to Czernowitz a few years ago. I also visited the
> vilage of Pohorloutz were my Granparents Weisinger
> were landhoders. When I and my brother Leo visited
> making inquiries most people were newcomers from the
> Ukraine we found however one person who remembered my
> familie by first names as apparently he knew them
> well. I also had family in Zastawna amongst them was a
> Stenzler. I would be interested if you kindly were to make it
> posible to send me any information, of course, I would be
> gladly defry you of any cost of copy.
> yours sincerily Fred.Weisinger

Dear Fred,
I checked the Cernauti pages in the book, but did not come across the names you mentioned. Of course, there were many Jews there in the big city, so I suggest that your best bet is to look up JewishGen/Yizkor book

How good is your Rumanian? I don't mind sending you whatever pages I have about Cernauti, as long as you can read them.

Best regards,
> ______________________________________________________________
> ______________________

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