1 Execution site(s)
Tatiana M., born in 1925: “Jews from the village were rounded up and shot. They were brought to a field. The pit had been dug beforehand by people from the village, by order of the gendarmes. Jews’ rings and necklaces were stolen by the gendarmes (…). There were also columns that would pass through Echimăuţi during the occupation. These columns crossed the Dniester river. There were hundreds of people in each column. The Romanians beat them when they asked for food.” (Witness N°104, interviewed in Echimăuţi, on May 19, 2013)
“[…] This act based on the testimonies of the local population established that on July 18, 1941, in the village of Echimăuţi thirty people of Jewish origin, -those who didn’t have time to evacuate to the Soviet Union, were arrested and shot. The shooting was conducted by Romanian gendarmerie commanded by Vasile C. The victims’ bodies were buried on the outskirts of the village, in pits used for animal remains. Among the victims there were men, women, elderly people and children. […]” [Act n°3, drawn up by Soviet Extraordinary Commission (ChGK) on March 2, 1945; RG.22-022M : 7021-96-85]
Echimăuţi is a village in Rezina District in eastern Moldova. It is located about 16km from Rezina, which was the largest closest Jewish community of the district. In 1930, there were 2,889 Jews living in Rezina (about 34% of its total population.) The majority of Rezina’s Jews were merchants and craftsmen, such as tailors, hat makers and shoemakers. Many Jews worked in the wine industry or grew tobacco. There was a synagogue in Rezina, as well as a Talmud-Torah school. The Jewish community of Echimăuţi was much smaller, just a handful of families. Thanks to the witnesses interviewed by YIU, we managed to establish that before the outbreak of WWII, as well as Jews, there were also Moldovans and Ukrainians in the village. The Jews from Echimăuţi were mainly merchants. There were two Jewish stores in the village, owned by men known as Mehr and David. They sold a variety of everyday products. Vasile M., born in 1931, added that Mehr had two children, a daughter and a son. Some Jews would buy wheat from peasants and then sell it in the local markets. Jewish and non-Jewish children would go to the same local school.
The village was occupied by Romanians in July 1941. A number of Jews managed to flee or to evacuate to the Soviet Union. Those who stayed, about thirty Jews, including children, were rounded-up and shot on July 18, 1941. The shooting was conducted by Romanian gendarmerie. The bodies of the victims were buried in a mass grave that had been dug by requisitioned villagers before the execution, even though the Soviet archives claim that the bodies were buried in the pits used for animal remain. According to YIU’s witness Tatiana N., born in 1925, the gendarmes robbed the victims of all their jewelry. Vasile M., born in 1931, recalls that Mehr’s son managed to flee before the execution but his daughter was caught by border guards, abused by them and killed. Besides the Jews, 6 Soviet prisoners of war were shot and buried in the same pits on August 27, 1941. The prisoners of war were brought from Rezina by the gendarmes. The same gendarmes conducted the shooting.
Vasile told YIU’s team about another execution of Jews perpetrated by Romanian soldiers in Echimăuţi during the occupation. The shooting is not mentioned in any available archive. According to Vasile, it was a shooting of about hundred Jews from a column that was brought through the village from the direction of Rezina. YIU’s team did not manage to locate the mass grave of those victims.
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