2 Execution site(s)
Vera K., born in 1925: “A month after the bombing of the military barracks, I saw columns of Jews arriving from the direction of Bălți. The Jews had no luggage. They were guarded by armed Romanian soldiers. The columns were directed towards the old Russian military barracks in the forest. A camp was built there by the Romanian soldiers. The soldiers’ cabins were next to the camp. The Jews were kept in overcrowded conditions. They slept in shacks. The camp was surrounded by barbed wire. There were four watchtowers, one on each corner of the camp and soldiers patrolled around the barbed wire fence. I would go there to give the Jews some bread, despite the soldiers’ ban. Some soldiers let the villagers give them food, some were much crueler and did not allow anyone to approach them. One day, my mother was beaten by the soldiers for trying to give prisoners a piece of bread. The Jews remained locked up in the camp for a few months, being taken out to perform forced labor in the fields.
Each day, on my way to the field, I saw Jews transporting corpses to bury them in bomb holes and in military trenches. They carried them on wooden stretchers.
When the war ended, Jews who were still alive left in an unknown direction and those who died there were forgotten forever."(Eyewitness N°191, interviewed in Răuţel, on November 24, 2014)
“Me, my mother Tsilia Iakovlevna and my sister Anna Isaakovna aged 20, left Bălți in the direction of the Dniester River, but halfway we were surrounded by Romanian troops. We were forced to return to Bălți with 2,000 other Jews who had tried to flee. When we got to Bălți, we were ordered to dig a pit near the mill owned by ïoffé; twenty-five Jewish men were shot there.
Then we were told to come back and assemble another day next to the court on Moskovskaya Street. People gathered near the court were taken to [illegible], where the regional NKVD offices were in 1941. There, sixty people were taken hostage, twenty of whom were shot the next day, including my father Isaak Motelevitch Bachinski, who was forty-eight years old, and a tailor by trade. The shooting took place in a small square in front of the Old Cathedral on Leningradskaya Street on July 15, 1941. ,. As for me, my mother, and my sister, we were sent to a camp in the Vinnitsa region. We stayed there until Balti,our hometown was liberated. We returned to Balti on May 15, 1944. We experienced all the horrors of camp life.”
[Deposition made by Riva Bashinskaya, 22 years old, residing at Dostoyevskiy Str.36, to the Soviet Extraordinary Commission (ChGK) in April 1945; RG22.002M:7021-96-81]
Răuţel is a village in Fălești district, in the north of Moldova. Before the WWII, the village’s population was composed by about sixty Moldovan families. There were no Jews living in Răuţel. The closest bigger Jewish community was the one in Bălți. In 1900, its Jewish population numbered 14,229 (about 60% of Bălți’s total population). It was the second largest Jewish community in Moldova. The Jews from Bălți had different professions, such as saddle or soap makers, carpenters, traders, or leather workers. They owned many shops and factories in town, selling and producing candy, food, alcohol, cotton wool, sunflower oil and many others. Jews from Bălți owned many restaurants as well, tea shops and taverns. Bălți had the biggest and most important horse and cattle fairs in the whole of Bessarabia. Balti also had one synagogue, several batei midrash and cheders.
Bălți was occupied by German and Romanian armies on July 8-9, 1941. Two temporary ghettos were established in Bălți in July 1941. All the local Jews were interned in those ghettos. One of them was in the former sugar factory, the other one in the courtyard of a local jail. On July 12th, ten intellectuals were chosen among ghetto inmates to be killed by the order of the German police. The ten were murdered by the Germans in the central park of the town. Such executions were carried out regularly with different pretexts. The exact number of victims killed by German and Romanian soldiers in Bălți remains unknown.
As the number of Jews in Bălți ghetto increased considerably, with a new group of 5.000 Jews coming to Bălți in July 1941, General Ion Topor decided to relocate the ghetto inmates to a transit camp established in Răuţel, about 3km from the village of Pîrlița and about 12km from Bălți. The Jews were sent there from July 15, 1941 until the last days of the month. According to a Bălți police report, 2,164 Jews were sent from Bălți to Răuţel transit camp. The camp in Răuţel was a medium-sized transit camp in which there were not only Jews from Bălți but also from Pîrlița, Soroca, Mărăndeni and many other towns and villages. According to Pavel S., born in 1926, the Jews from Bălți were brought to Răuţel transit camp in several columns of hundreds of people. The camp was in the forest and surrounded by a barbed wire fence over two meters high. The Jews were imprisoned in several wooden barracks but eventually they became so numerous that most of them had to sleep outside, under the open sky. There were a few additional barracks for the Romanian guards inside the camp. Jewish men from the camp were forced to work outside the camp. The officer in charge of the Bălţi gendarmes, M. Boulescu, commanded the camp guards and was also responsible for organizing transports of food rations for the inmates. However, those were very poor: the Jews received only one meal per day and in consequence many of them died from starvation. Corpses of those who died or were killed by the guards, were buried in a huge mass grave that had been dug near the camp. According to Pavel, several hundred Jews were buried there during several weeks of the camp’s existence. Because of the extremely severe conditions, Răuţel transit camp was one of the most barbaric in all of Bessarabia.
In September, 3,436 Jews from Răuţel transit camp (among them, about 2,800 Jews from Bălți) were deported to another camp, in Mărculești near Fălești. After their arrival at Mărculești, the Jews from Răuţel transit camp had to perform forced labor: they would dig up gravestones in the Jewish cemetery and use them to pave the road in the camp. On September 10th, 1941, General Topor gave the order to deport the Jews from Mărculești to Transnistria. At the end of October, the deportations began and lasted until November 10th, 1941.
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