Verejeni | Ocnița

/ Maria B., born in 1918 :  “Gitla and her son Mikhail, were the first to be killed. Their bodies were buried at the execution site of the rest of the local Jews, in a field where a big mass grave had been dug”. © Victoria Bahr - Yahad-In Unum Vladimir T., born in 1934:  “The Romanian and German soldiers assembled the Jews. Zeulig, Abby’s son, came to my father and asked him for shelter but my father refused him for fear of Romanian reprisals. Zeulig was killed."© Victoria Bahr - Yahad-In Unum Vladimir T., born in 1934: “During the war, I saw columns  passing near Verejeni, along the Ocnița-Otaci road. There were hundreds of Jews in those columns. People said that weak Jews were shot and buried along the road.” © Victoria Bahr - Yahad-In Unum Maria B., born in 1918 :  “When the columns of Jews would pass near the village, local people would try to trade with them. They received clothes in exchange for food.” © Victoria Bahr - Yahad-In Unum Vladimir T., born in 1934 showed YIU’s team the place where Jews from Verejeni were assembled before the shooting. It was, and still is private property. © Victoria Bahr - Yahad-In Unum The Ocnița-Otaci road along which columns of Jews were escorted by German and Romanian troops during the occupation. Many sick and elderly Jews were most likely killed and buried along this road. © Victoria Bahr - Yahad-In Unum Maria B. and Vladimir T. brought YIU’s team to both mass graves sites where Jewish victims were shot and buried in summer 1941.© Victoria Bahr - Yahad-In Unum Mass grave of about five Jewish families from Verejeni. Today, the site is a pasture where local villagers graze their cattle. There is no memorial at the site.© Victoria Bahr - Yahad-In Unum Mass grave of about thirty Jews near Verejeni, shot by Romanians in summer 1941. In 1941 the site was a natural ravine. Today, it’s an empty field. There is no memorial at the mass grave site. © Victoria Bahr - Yahad-In Unum

Execution of Jews in Verejeni

2 Execution site(s)

Kind of place before :
Field (1); Ravine (2)
Memorials :
No
Period of occupation:
1941-1944
Number of victims :
About 50

Witness interview

Vladimir T., born in 1934: “When the war broke out, I was grazing my cows. The gendarmes arrived by car. They ordered all the villagers to evacuate. When my family was preparing for evacuation, Abby’s son Zeulig came to my father and asked him for shelter since his parents had already been arrested by the Romanians. My father refused to hide Zeulig for fear of being shot so Zeulig returned home. He was subsequently shot with the rest of Verejeni’s Jews in a field, on the outskirts of the village. I did not see the shooting because immediately afterwards, all the Moldovan families from the village were evacuated to Lipnic. We stayed there for two weeks. When I returned to Verejeni, I went to the shooting place. I saw pieces of arms, bones, pieces of brains. The bodies had certainly been scattered and eaten by dogs. All the Jewish families in the village were killed there and buried at that spot.” (Witness N°87, interviewed in Verejeni, on May 14, 2013)

Historical note

Verejeni is a village in Ocnița district in northern Moldova. It is located about 20km from Ocnița. Before the outbreak of WWII, the village was inhabited mainly by Moldovans as well as several Jewish families. Jews from Verejeni were mainly merchants. They owned several shops in which they would sell different kind of products. One of the Jewish families from the village co-owned a mill with a Moldovan farmer. The peasants from all the villages nearby would go there to grind their wheat for flour. YIU’s witness Vladimir T., born in 1934, remembers some of his Jewish neighbors. He recalls Mikhail who had four children. Two of them were called Isaac and Shulim. He remembers also Berko who was a shop owner and Abby, a horse trader whose son was called Zeulig. A Jewish woman Frima was married to a Moldovan man from Verejeni.

Holocaust by bullets in figures

Little is known from the historical sources about the fate of Verejeni’s Jewish community during the Holocaust. YIU’s team managed to reconstitute the killing process of the local Jews thanks to the witnesses they interviewed. The German soldiers and Romanian gendarmes arrived in the village in summer 1941. Right after their arrival, they began the massacre of Jewish families. All the Jews who were caught in the village were assembled behind a local barn. Those who tried to hide were killed on the spot where they were found. Maria B., born in 1918, remembers a Jewish woman, Gitla and her son, Mikhail, being shot in their house. They were the first local victims of the Holocaust. After this first killing, when all the Jews were assembled, they were merged with the column of Jews passing through Verejeni and taken to the valley on the outskirts of the village. Immediately after the gathering of Jews, all the Moldovan inhabitants of the village were evacuated to Lipnic. For this reason, YIU’s team was unable to interview any eyewitnesses of this execution. However, when the villagers came back to Verejeni two weeks later, they found the victim’s bodies torn by animals at the execution site.

During their research trip, YIU’s team managed to establish that a second shooting took place near Verejeni in 1941. It was a shooting of about thirty Jewish men, women, and children by Romanian gendarmes on the outskirts of the village.

Several men were ordered to dig a pit in a ravine, a few kilometers from Verejeni. Next, the rest of the Jews were put on the edge of that pit and shot by three shooters. The pit was covered by the same Jewish men who had dug it. After the shooting, those men were joined to a column of Jews that passed through the village a little later and they left altogether in the direction of the Dniester river. Maria B., born in 1918, the eyewitness of this execution confirmed that the victims were not originally from Verejeni. During this investigation, YIU managed to locate both mass graves of the Jewish victims killed near Verejeni in the summer of 1941. Neither location has a memorial.

 

Nearby villages

To support the work of Yahad-in Unum please consider making a donation

Do you have additional information regarding a village that you would like to share with Yahad ?

Please contact us at contact@yahadinunum.org
or by calling Yahad – In Unum at +33 (0) 1 53 20 13 17