1 Execution site(s)
Yelena B., born in 1917, remembers: “I saw many Jews being shot when I was about to join my parents who worked on the field. While walking, I saw a huge column of Jews, escorted by Romanian gendarmes. There were women, men and children in the column. I recognized Shcroulia who owned a shop. The column went from the village towards the field. There were no pits. The Jews were lined up in a line 10m long and shot. Several shooters fired with automatic weapons. I didn’t see what happened next to the bodies because the Romanian gendarmes chased me away.” (Eyewitness N° 143, interviewed in Ermoclia on August 21, 2013).
“[…] In July 1941, I don’t remember the exact day, I was working in my field when I heard the gunfire shots coming from the mill in Ermoclia. After a while, I took all my belongings and came back home, because it was already dark. Once home, my children said that they had seen several citizens of Jewish nationality being shot by Romanian soldiers near the mill. I kept thinking about that all time. The next morning, I woke up very early and I decided to go and take a look. When I arrived close to the mill, I saw a terrifying picture. The Jews were thrown in the mass grave and there were still visible traces, such as hats, caps, torn clothes, piles of hair, and puddles of blood.” [Deposition of a villager, born in 1900, made to the Soviet Extraordinary commission on 22.002M.7021-96/84-85]
Ermoclia is a small village in the southeast of Moldova, about 80km southeast from Kishinev. Before the war, the Jews lived in the center of the village. They held small shops. As the Jewish community was not large, there was no synagogue or cemetery. For prayers and special holidays, all the Jews went to the nearest town, Bender. The village was occupied by German soldiers in July 1941. According to witness n°144, Romanian and Czech forces also arrived in the village.
Little is known about the anti-Jewish Aktions in Ermoclia from the Soviet archives. Only one shooting of a group of Jews near the mill was mentioned. It was conducted by a Romanian gendarme in the summer of 1941. From field research, Yahad discovered that there was a forced labor camp created right after the occupation. The camp, called “Valia Fenui,” was fenced in with barbed wire that was 2m high. The Jewish inmates slept in bunkers inside the territory. Apparently, the Jews were given food that was prepared on the spot. There were only men in the camp. They worked on the construction of the road leading to Olăneşti. We were not able to determine the exact number of Jewish inmates of the camp or for how long it functioned. According to different witnesses, there were about 50-100 Jewish workers and they stayed there from summer 1941 till 1942. Afterwards, once a section of the road was completed, the camp was transferred farther away to continue construction. Due to poor living conditions, many Jews died in the camp and were buried in Bender. From the witnesses’ accounts, Yahad concluded that there were several isolated shootings of the Jews, sometimes not native to the village, but who were found hiding in the field. According to witness n°143, the Jews from the village were shot in the open field by several Romanian gendarmes.
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