2 Execution site(s)
Ivan P., born in 1927, remembers how the family of Gendelman was killed: “When the Romanians arrived to the village they started to search for Jews and killed them on the spot. Gendelman’s parents were hiding in a barn. I knew this family very well because they lived not far away from us. They were our neighbors. They went into hiding hoping to stay in the barn while everything calmed down, but someone denounced them. When the Romanians entered the barn they were hiding in, they forced them out and took them to the garden. Once there, they were put facing the Romanians, who shot them dead. When Aaron, their son who was hiding in the garden, heard the gunshots he started to run but was also hit with a bullet. Aaron was about 25 years old. Once they were shot, the Romanians left the place and the local collaborators disrobed the bodies and dug a pit to bury the corpses. A couple of days later, their bodies were reburied at the Jewish cemetery.” (Testimony n°1889, interviewed in Sokyriany on June 26th, 2015)
“In July 1941, Romanian soldiers carried out a pogrom. As a result of this four day pogrom, over 150 Jews were killed and their belongings were plundered. According to the testimonies, the Jews were caught on the streets, stripped naked and beaten to death. The young women were raped. Sometimes people tore off the gold teeth from the Jews who were still alive. The corpses were everywhere in the streets and inside the houses. Many residents committed suicide in order to escape the painful death. Once the looting and the pogrom stopped, on the fifth day the remaining Jews of the town, (8,000 Jews) were gathered and taken to Briceni. On their way they were constantly beaten and killed. ” [Act drawn up by State Extraordinary Commission (ChGK) on July 13th, 1945; RG 22.002M: 7021-79-75]
Sokyriany is a small town located 126km east of Chernivtsi, on the border with Moldova. It is part of Northern Bessarabia which was under Romanian control from 1918 to 1940, when the Soviet Union annexed it. The first records about the Jewish community date back to the early 19th century. By 1897, the 5,042 Jews who lived here making up 56% of the total population. There was a synagogue and a Jewish cemetery. There were several Jewish schools, including a Tarbut institution and a high school based on cheder with elementary classes. The majority of Jews lived off small scale trade of horses, lumber, vegetables and fruits. There were also craftsmen among them. In 1930 the Jewish population reached 73% of the total population. Several cultural and political Zionist organizations operated in the town until June 1940 when they were forbidden once the village was taken over by the Soviet Union.
The town was occupied by Romanian troops on July 6, 1941 and on the same day a pogrom was organized by villagers from the nearby areas. During the first two days 90 Jews were murdered on the spot and all Jewish houses and stores were plundered and destroyed. The bodies of the killed Jews were gathered by locals and buried at the Jewish cemetery. Once the remaining local Jews were deported from Sokyriany, a transit camp was created in late July 1941. At its peak it numbered 20,000 Jews, the majority of whom were Jews from Khotyn. Thousands Jews died from hunger, epidemics due to inhuman living conditions.
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