1 Execution site(s)
Sovieta Zh., born in 1930: “In the summer [of] 1941, when the first German troops passed by the village, all the Jews from Hertsa were rounded up and locked in the basement. I was about to go to the center of the town with a friend of mine because we wanted to take some Christmas decorations left by the Soviets when they retreated, but at this moment I was arrested by a German and a Romanian who spoke Russian. They thought that I was Jewish and took me to the basement where about fifty Jews more had been already gathered. There were other children of my age. Half an hour later my father came and spoke to Romanian guards explaining that I wasn’t Jewish but Romanian. They let me go and we went back home. Since that day I stayed at home most of the time because my parents wouldn’t let me go out.” (Witness n°2523U, interviewed in Mohylivka, on October 30, 2018)
“In June 1941 the 8th German infantry division led by Major [major’s name iillegible] shot 60 civilians of Jewish nationality in the town of Hertsa on [date illegible], under the order of the latter. Among the victims there were women, children, and the elderly. The lootings and the mistreatment of the civil population continued after throughout the region.” [Act drawn up by Soviet Extraordinary Commission (ChGK) on June 10, 1945; GARF 7021-79-72]
Hertsa is a town located 30km (18mi) southeast of Chernivtsi, close to the border with Romania. Before WWI, the village was part of the Austrian Empire, and in between the two world wars, it was taken over by Romania. The first records of the town’s Jewish community date back to the 17th century. In 1890, 820 of the town’s 1,180 inhabitants were Jews. The Jewish community had two major synagogues and four houses of prayer, as well as several religious schools. The main language was Yiddish. As a result of immigration, many Jews from Galicia and other territories of the Russian Empire moved there. By 1930, the Jewish population numbered 1,810 out of the town’s 8,454 inhabitants. The local Jews were mainly involved in commerce and industry connected with products made from the surrounding forest, including timber processing. Other common professions were crafts and the liberal professions. In June 1940, Hertsa was taken over by the Soviet Union. In June 1941, 38 Jewish families were deported by the Soviets to Siberia.
Hertsa was occupied by the Romanians on July 5, 1941, resulting in a series of attacks during which 150 Jews were massacred. The Jews of Mohylivka were killed alongside the Jews of Hertsa. According to the local testimonies gathered by Yahad, the Jews were first gathered on the territory of the mill, and then, a week or so later, shot in a nearby pit dug by the Jews themselves. Approximately 1,650 Jewish survivors were deported to the transit camp in Edineț, today Moldova. From there, they were taken to camps in Transnistria in early October 1941. It is estimated that approximately 800 Jews died in Transnistria.
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