Sunday, February 05, 2012

The Holocaust in Transnistria: Extracts from Ioanid

The following is taken from Ioanid, "The Holocaust in Romania", pp.187-193. On-line source is here. The section is entitled "The German Contribution" and deals primarily with the killing of Odessa and Berezovka Jews by units made up primarily of Volksdeutsche:

Berezovka was the arrival point of almost twenty thousand Odessa Jews who had survived the Romanian army massacres of October 1941. The railroad station of the town of Berezovka, some sixty miles northeast of Odessa, was situated in the middle of a cluster of Ukrainian and ethnic German settlements. The Jews, brought there by train, were marched to the countryside and shot by ethnic German Selbstschutz [members of the self-defense corps]. . . . The death toll . . . was swelled by victims from smaller towns and villages. A cumulative figure was indicated by a member of the German Foreign Office in May. About 28,000 Jews had been brought to German villages in Transnistria, he [Popescu] wrote. “ Inzwischen wurden sie liquidiert” (Meanwhile they have been liquidated).

A report from the Romanian Berezovka gendarmerie stated in April 1942 that 85 percent of the Jews of Berezovka District had been liquidated by SS formations. A similar report of May 1942 indicated that all Odessa Jews who had been held in the Mostovoi castle had been executed in a field by the SS, which then burned the corpses. In early June the SS troops of Lichtenfeld executed 1,200 Jews in Suha Verba; the Transnistria Gendarme Inspectorate reported that mass murder to the government of Transnistria. On July 3, 1942, Romanian officials handed over 247 Jews at Brailov (Bratslav), ten kilometers northeast of Smerinka, after they had sought refuge on Romanian territory; the Germans killed them. Romanian gendarmes executed three hundred Jews moved from Vapniarka to Berezovka during the spring of 1942.

On August 19, 1942, at the request of the Todt Organization and with the consent of the Tulcin District prefect, Colonel Loghin, three thousand Jews who had been deported in June from Cernauti and taken beyond the Bug now were handed over to the Germans. Of those three thousand Jews almost no one returned. The elderly, [as well as] some of the women, some of the children, and the weakest, were executed in the first days. The others were gradually killed once they could no longer work. Then, on June 6, 1943, again at the request of the Todt Organization, another transport of 829 Jews was sent from Moghilev to Trihati for the construction of a bridge over the Bug. The fate of these Jews is unknown.

During the massive SS executions of the Jews who had been deported to the Berezovka District in the spring of 1942, Romanian gendarmes also wrought their own carnage.
How many Jews perished in the massacres at Transnistria? At least 123,000 Romanian Jews had crossed the Dniester River in 1941 and 1942; only 50,741 remained alive as of 1943. About 25,000 Jews were killed in Odessa, at least 28,000 Jews were killed by the Germans in Berezovka, and 75,000 were killed in Golta, not to mention up to 19,000 Romanian Gypsies killed in Transnistria. Julius Fisher estimates that 87,000 Romanian Jews died in Transnistria along with 130,000 indigenous Jews. The Germans bear direct responsibility for the deaths of about fifty thousand, mostly in the districts of Berezovka and Bar. The majority of them were handed over to the Nazis by the Romanians. The final result of all the efforts of the Romanians, the Germans, and their collaborators was the victimization of more than a quarter million innocent people.

Although, as we have seen, the murders continued after 1942, the zeal of Romanian officialdom began to abate in that year as the changing course of the war suggested to them to replace fanaticism with opportunism in Jewish matters. If outright mass murder occurred less frequently, however, soul-numbing persecution and grinding day-to-day oppression would continue, with widespread fatal results.

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