1 Execution site(s)
Valentyna M., born in 1930: “Witness: We were told that they were Jews in the column, but we didn’t know why they took them and what would happen to them.
YIU: Did the Romanians have uniforms?
W: Yes, of course.
YIU: What color was it?
W: It was the color of tobacco. No one else had such a uniform, only them. Our soldiers had grey uniforms, and they had brownish. They also had boots, and the fabric they used to wrap their feet was the same color.
YIU: Did they have weapons?
W: Of course, they did.” (Witness n°2467, interviewed in Velykyi Dalnyk, on September 9, 2018)
“During the German and Romanian occupation of Odesa, October 24, 1941, the Jewish residents of Odesa and I were taken along with our families to the ghetto. First, we were detained in Dalnyk, located about 15km away from Odesa. Later, the Romanian gendarmes escorted us towards a former kolkhoz, who engaged in pig breeding, located in Bogdanovka, district of Domaniovka, in the region of Odesa. The occupational regime created a ghetto in which they brought thousands of Soviet citizens of Jewish nationality from the occupied territories. I was held in this camp until March 1944. When the Romanian troops were about to retreat, 130-140 other survivors and I managed to liberate ourselves.” [Deposition of a Jewish survivor, Rakhil Vekselman, born in 1911, native of Kryve Ozero, given to the State Extraordinary Commission; RG.22-002M: 7021-69-342-345]
Velykyi Dalnyk is a village located 15km east of Odesa. Prior to WWII, there were no Jews living in Velykyi Dalnyk. A large Jewish community did live in Odesa. From the beginning, Odessa was a multinational city, with a substantial number of Armenians, Turks, Tatars, Poles, Greeks, and Jews, as well as some French and English. The first synagogue in the city was established not long after the foundation of the town. In 1892 there were 404,000 residents, including 124,511 Jews. It was the second-largest Jewish community in terms of size in the Russian Empire.
Under the leadership of such prominent figures as Admiral de Ribas and Duc de Richelieu, who served as the city’s governor between 1803 and 1814, the town became an essential economic and cultural center with an important naval port. By the end of the 19th century, Odesa became home to the largest Zionist movement; however, in the 1920s-1930s, the movement was banned by the Soviets. At that time, there were many synagogues; in Odessa, there were at least 7. All were closed or turned into Klubs.
Many Jews were involved in wholesale and small scale trade and crafts. At the same time, many Jews were employed as industrial workers or state officials. Half of the doctors, midwives, and pharmacists were Jewish. On the eve of World War II, a third of the population, some 180,000, were Jewish. Between 1939-1940 many Jewish refugees arrived in Odessa from Bessarabia and Bukovina. Romanians occupied the area in October 1941.
Following the occupation, Odesa was officially declared part of Romanian Transnistria. Less than two weeks after the Romanian occupation, on October 22, 1941, the local Kommandant headquarters was blown up, and many high-ranking Romanian and German officers were killed. As a result, the Jews of Odesa, no matter their age or gender, who showed up for a fake registration were confined in prison. A group of detainees was burned alive in the munition warehouses of Odesa.
Another group was taken on foot to Bohdanivka, and another 40,000 Jews were taken to Dalnyk and locked up in four barracks: three were for men and one for women and children. According to historical sources, approximately 10,000 Jews were slaughtered, either by bullets or burned alive inside the barracks.
These actions were carried out by Romanian infantry divisions on October 24 and 25, 1941, while others were displaced to different camps in the Mykolaiv district. According to the testimony of a Jewish survivor, who passed by Dalnyk along with her mother, many detainees were taken to Domanivka. During the march, those who couldn’t walk anymore were shot dead on the spot. Their bodies were buried along the road by the local villagers.
The remaining Jews from Odessa and the vicinity were confined into two ghettos created in November. One of these ghettos was created in Dalnyk. On November 15, 1941, the last of the mass executions took place. On this day, about 1,000 Jews were taken to the former Red Army shooting grounds in Odesa, where they were murdered. By February 1942, nearly all of the prisoners from the two ghettos had been deported to the villages in the Odesa and Mykolaiv regions; Domanivka, Bohdanivka, Kryve Ozero, and Akhmechetka, where they were executed.
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