Lipcani | Briceni

/ The Jewish cemetery in Lipcani is surrounded by a stone wall. Around 100 gravestones are still visible; the oldest ones date back to the 18th century. ©Jewish Heritage Sites and Monuments in Moldova Pavel T., born in 1929, was an eyewitness of a shooting of Jews carried out on the outskirts of the village of Lipcani. © Kate Kornberg - Yahad - In Unum Pavel T., born in 1929:  “The column stopped not far from the forest. The Romanians put the Jews into two groups: rich and poor. Those who had nothing to give them were shot.”© Kate Kornberg - Yahad - In Unum Father Patrick Desbois and the YIU team during the interview with Pavel T., born in 1929 in Lipcani.© Kate Kornberg - Yahad - In Unum Nadezhda D., born in 1938:   “I saw how the Romanians put Jewish women and children into a water basin to drown them.”© Kate Kornberg - Yahad - In Unum Nadezhda D., born in 1938:   “Women were carrying their babies and holding them up in the air to save them from drowning, in vain (…)”© Kate Kornberg - Yahad - In Unum Mass grave of Jews from Lipcani shot by Romanian gendarmes in July 1941.There is no memorial.© Kate Kornberg - Yahad - In Unum

Execution of Jews in Lipcani

1 Execution site(s)

Kind of place before:
Period of occupation:
Number of victims:

Witness interview

Nadezhda D., born in 1938: “The local Jews were arrested when the German and Romanian soldiers arrived. Young Jews managed to flee and hide but middle aged Jews, as well as women with children, were rounded up and taken to the place where the mill known as “Kent” used to be. There was a water basin there, like a pool. The Germans put the Jews inside and started to pour water on them. I was walking by the site with my mother and we saw women carrying their babies and holding up in the air, above their heads, to save them from drowning. But it was impossible because the water from the pipe was flowing and flowing… There were quite a lot of women there, we could hear them screaming and crying. They all drowned but I don’t know here they were buried”. (Witness N°204, interviewed in Lipcani, on March 10th 2015)

Soviet archives

"Question: What do you know about the atrocities committed by the German-Romanian occupiers during the period 1941-1944?
Answer: When the Romanian troops entered Lipcani, they immediately started shooting civilians of Jewish nationality. For my part, I know that the following people were shot on the first day: ... (two names follow) and many others whose names I have forgotten. The next day, Jews from Lipcani who had not been shot, including my family and I, were rounded up at the No. 1 Public Mill depot where we were kept for eight days, without food or drink. On the ninth day, we were all taken to the gendarmerie section, at Poste Street (I no longer remember the name… (Illegible word, TN) where the section chief, the plutonier… (not easily readable name, perhaps Petranu, TN) gave the order to beat us up and then send us to Edineț (Единцы) and from there to Ukraine. There were almost 5000 of us. Along the way, we were constantly beaten, we had absolutely nothing to eat, all we ate was corn… (hidden word illegible, NT) and grass. Anyone who swerved to get something to eat was inevitably shot. The soldiers and gendarmes of the escort shot many of those who could no longer walk… (illegible word, NT) For my part, I lost all mine at that time, they were shot simply because they could not move forward.
In the camps, we were not given anything to eat either and all these innocent people were beaten up.
I know that around 30 people were shot in Lipcani on the first day of the Romanian occupation.
The minutes are true to what I said and have been read to me.
[Deposition of Muni Elikman, born in 1886 in Lipcani where he lives, illiterate, not a member of a communist party, Jewish, employee, married (family shot by Germans), Soviet citizen, given to the State Extraordinary Commission on March 31st 1945; GARF : 7021-96-81]

Historical note

Lipcani is a town in the Briceni District in Bessarabia region of northern Moldova, just a few kilometers from Ukrainian border. In the 1930s, Lipcani was mainly inhabited by Jews who lived in the central part of the town. Before the outbreak of the Second World War, there were 4,698 Jews living in the town, representing about 80% of the total population. The Jews from Lipcani were mainly merchants and craftsmen: tailors, shoemakers, etc. There were about twenty synagogues in town, each for a different guild. Those from different trade groups were located in the suburbs of town. The wealthiest Jews went to the Great Synagogue located in the center of the town. This was destroyed during the war. The Jewish community also had several cheders and a cemetery which exists today.

Holocaust by bullets in figures

The town of Lipcani was bombed by the Luftwaffe on June 22nd 1941. The bombing caused many casualties among Jewish and non-Jewish inhabitants of the town. A large number of wealthiest Jews tried to flee eastward with the retreating Soviet army, but many of them were caught and killed by Romanian soldiers after they had crossed the Dniester river. When the German-Romanian troops arrived in Lipcani at the very beginning of July 1941, they started to persecute the remaining Jews. According to Soviet archives, around 30 people were shot that day, many others were beaten up and Jewish properties were robbed. On July 2-3 1941, the rest of the Jewish population of Lipcani (about 5.000 individuals) was rounded up. Many of them were transferred to the village of Briceni, located 28km northeast of Lipcani, where, the next day, they were put in a large column and taken to Ukraine, in the direction of Mohyliv-Podilskyi. On the way, they stopped in the village of Otaci (Ocnița region) from which they were taken to Yampil in the Vinnytsia region. From Yampil, the Jews were transferred to the Rubleniţa forest in Soroca District where they spent about ten days without eating or drinking. 20-30 people died there daily from hunger and exhaustion, many others were killed by Romanian gendarmes during the march. The bodies of the victims were buried in the Rubleniţa forest. The remaining Jews were taken from the forest to a camp in Sokyriany where they spent about six weeks. After that, about 200 Jewish survivors from Lipcani were gathered again and led out of Sokyriany. About 5km further, elderly and weaker people who were unable to walk were put on carts, taken to mass graves and shot with machine-guns.

The Lipcani Jews who were not transferred to Briceni were taken to the local public mill warehouse where they were locked up for eight day without food or water. On the ninth day, they were taken to the gendarmerie post office where an order was given to beat them up and bring them to Edineț, located more than 50km from Lipcani. During the death march, many of them died from hunger or exhaustion or were killed by the soldiers and gendarmes who were escorting them. From Edineț, the survivors were deported to different camps in Ukraine in which most of them perished during the Holocaust. Those were not the only atrocities committed on Jewish community from Lipcani by the German-Romanian occupiers. According to YIU’s witness Nadezhda D., born in 1938, a large number of Jewish women and children from Lipcani were drowned by Germans in a water basin located near the mill. Another YIU witness, Pavel T., born in 1929, recalled that a group of local Jews was shot on the outskirts of the village. YIU’s team managed to locate the mass grave of the victims of that shooting. There is no memorial.



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