3 Execution site(s)
Raisa V., born in 1932: "The camp was guarded by Romanians who stayed in one of the buildings located on the former Polish property, which was transformed into the tuberculosis sanitarium before the war. Some Ukrainians were hired to work in the camp, such as women who were hired to cook for the Jews. Even though they were given some food, it was too little and not enough. All the inmates were as skinny as skeletons and hungry. They would even jump on the walls when we passed by to beg for food. Of course, it was forbidden to bring them food, but Romanian gendarmes were more indulgent toward the kids. So, we could more easily approach the fence to throw some bread. The Jews would give me money, so I could go buy bread for them at the market and bring it to them. One Jewish teacher managed to get out of the camp, and she stayed in hiding with my grandmother. She would tell us that some Jews who had money managed to bribe Romanian guards and leave the camp. Although not many of them survived because they were killed by the border guards. The border between the Romanian and German occupied territories wasn’t far." (Witness n°2582U, interviewed in Pechera on April 11, 2019)
"[...] Besides myself, Rusovski Shmul, Vishnevski Khula, MashevskiI, all three from Tultchin, as well as Malman Iacha from Trostianets and Zertzel Polia from Soroki were members of the committee. [...] The functions of the committee consisted of asking for help from the main Jewish committee in Bucharest, monitoring public order in the camp and ensuring the cleanliness of the camp. [...] The committee sent several letters to the Jewish committee in Bucharest asking for help for the prisoners at the Pechera camp. The committee was controlled and directed by the gendarmes of the Pechera camp. On the order of the gendarmerie, the committee had to ensure that the prisoners could not escape from the camp, that they maintained order and cleanliness in order to prevent the spread of diseases. They also had to make sure that people who were not prisoners did not enter the camp. As a starosta, I reported to the chief of the gendarmerie. [...] I was summoned to the gendarmerie very often, sometimes several times a week. The chief of the gendarmerie demanded that we follow the rules of the camp and the timetable to the letter. I had to keep the living quarters clean, shovel away snow in the yard, ensure the supply of firewood, and I also had to take the roll call and give the lists of those present to the chief of the gendarmerie. [...] The schedule in the camp was very hard. It was forbidden to leave the territory of the camp, if this happened the person was beaten, almost to death. People were starving and many died. If there were no baths on the camp territory, the prisoners were swarming with lice. The prisoners lived in sheds and buildings without heating and got sick. [...] The only thing that the committee did to improve the living conditions in the camp was to send requests for help to the Jewish committee in Bucharest. I could not do more because it was not my responsibility. It was up to the head of the camp selected from among the Ukrainian policemen to take care of it." [Interrogation of the detainee Tsimerman Motel, starosta of the camp, made on May 17, 1944
Pp. 910-911; SBU Archives Delo n°5050]
Pechera is located on the banks of the Bug River, 59 km (36,6km) northeast of Vinnytsia. The first record of the Jewish community dates back to the 17th century, but it was completely destroyed during the Khmelnytsky uprising. By the mid-18th century, Jews had resettled in the village. In 1897, some 1,000 Jews lived on the village, comprising almost the half of the total population. The majority of Jews lived off small scale trade and handicraft. They had two synagogues, a cemetery where the Jews from the nearby village of Shpykiv were buried as well. During the Civil War, the Jewish community suffered greatly from the assaults at the hands of different actors, which left behind dozens of victims. During the 1930s, small private businesses were forbidden, and the Jews had to turn towards agriculture or form cooperatives. On the eve of the war, only 10-12% of the total population was Jewish due to relocation to bigger towns throughout the 1920s.
Pechera was occupied by Romanian and German forces on July 23, 1941. From the autumn of 1941 it was incorporated into the region of Transnistria, a territory controlled by Romania. The Jews continued to lived in their houses until end of September, when some were taken to Shpykiv, and then transferred to the village of Rohyzna. From December 1941 to March 1944, a Jewish labor camp operated in Pechera. The chief of the camp was a Romanian gendarme and it was guarded by Ukrainian policemen with batons and rifles. The prisoners were housed in the two-story building that once housed a sanatorium for tuberculosis patients and in the one-story building that housed a stable. They slept on the floor. On December 13, 1941, 3,500 Jews from Tulchyn were brought to the camp. On December 31, 1941, another 750 Jews from Bratslav were brought there, followed in January 1942 by 450 Jews from the Trostianets district and several hundred Jews from Vapniarka. On August 19, 1942, several hundred Jews from the camp in Rohyzna also arrived in the camp. At the end of July 1942 and in November 1942, 3500 Jews from Mohyliv-Podilski were taken to the camp. In all, about 8,500 people were sent to the camp. There was a Jewish starosta and police who were appointed by the gendarmes. Each room in the sanatorium housed between 30 and 40 prisoners. The Jews were not fed and were not allowed to leave the camp, which was surrounded by a high stone fence. Despite the ban, women and children managed to leave the camp to ask the locals for food. As for drinking water, the prisoners could only get it from the Bug River. During the first winter of the camp’s existence, many prisoners died as a result of a typhus epidemic. From August 1942 until March 1943, 2,500 people were transferred to the German side to work. In the summer of 1942, the Germans tried to liquidate the camp, but the Romanian commander halted their attempts. In September 1943, all the orphans of the camp were rounded up (about 30) and an orphanage was created. In November 1943, the children left for Balta, before being sent to Romania in March 1944. On March 17, 1944, the camp was liberated with only 1,550 Jews alive. Although estimates vary, it is believed that in all, between 2,500 and 7,000 Jews died in the camp due to disease and starvation.
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