1 Sitio(s) de ejecución
Maria Sh., born in 1925: "Sara, a friend of mine, went into hiding in Bershad. It was on Romanian territory. Sara’s two sisters were hidden in a chicken coop. The owner found them and made them go to Bershad. The family was put together in the Jewish ghetto. The Jews were forced to work, but they weren’t killed." (Witness n°1224, interviewed in Sobolivka, on May 31, 2011)
« During the temporary occupation of Bershad, the German and Romanian invaders established a ghetto, a Jewish camp, in which they gathered all the Jews brought in from other regions, such as Bukovina, Chernivtsi regions, Romania, and Bessarabia. Moreover, Jews who managed to escape from the executions conducted in different Ukrainian villages and towns came to the Bershad ghetto seeking refuge. As a result of the poverty, cold, lack of food and constant beatings in the ghetto, the inmates were contaminated by epidemics that caused death of circa. 200-300 people per day.
At the beginning of 1941, the ghetto housed 25,0000 Jews - men, women and children. After the liberation of Bershad by the Red Army on March 14, 1944, only 11 129 Jews remained alive. The other 13 871 had died from hunger, cold, bad treatment and torture, and different types of diseases as stated below […].” [Act drawn up by Soviet State Extraordinary Commission on April 10, 1945; GARF: 7021-54-1242]
« During the night of July 15, 1943, I escaped along with my wife Anisore from Dohrmann’s company building, located in Haysyn. During the night from July 18 on July 19 we crossed the Buh river and went in the direction of the ghetto in Beshad. Five months later, between December 10 and 18, we found out that all the camps were liquidated.” [From the book “Let me live” written by Arnold Daghani, B162-6153 p.2]
Bershad is located 150km (93mi) southeast of Vinnytsia. The first mention of the town goes back to 1459. The first Jews settled down there in the early 17th century, but the community was destroyed during the Khmelnitsky uprising. In 1853, 2,941 Jews lived in the town. The majority of the Jews were artisans, some of them were merchants and lived off small scale trade. Bershad was home to a big Hassidic community. In the middle of the nineteenth century, it became known for its Jewish weavers of the tallit, a ritual shawl worn by Jews at prayer. By the end of the century the demand decreased, and the industry declined, leading many of the weavers to emigrate to America. In 1900, the Jewish population numbered 4,500 people comprising 64% of the total population. It is still active. In 1919-1920 the Jewish community suffered from pogroms organized by different parties that participated in the civil war. The community possessed synagogues and several houses of prayer. One synagogue survived the Second World War and was not closed during the Soviet period. On the eve of the war 6,979 Jews lived in the town, making up 74% of the total population.
Beshad was occupied by German and Romanian forces on July 29, 1941. The town remained under Romanian rule and became part of Transnistria in September 1941. Shortly after, a ghetto was created where the Jews deported from Bessarabia and Bukovina in the fall of 1941 were confined. According to the Soviet archives, circa. 25,000 Jews - men, women, and children - were confined in the ghetto. The ghetto was created in the lower part of the town, called Dolyna, and included 12 streets. Although the ghetto was not guarded, it was forbidden for Jews to leave its territory under pain of death. During the ghetto’s existence, the inmates were forced to carry out forced labor, such as woodcutting and street cleaning. Many Jews who managed to escape from the execution perpetrated on the territories occupied by Germans found shelter in the Bershad ghetto. During winter of 1941-1942, about half of the inmates died from typhus. According to historical sources, only 10,000 Jews remained in the ghetto as of August 1942. The typhus victims were buried in the mass graves on the Jewish cemetery. In 1943, an underground resistance was formed in the ghetto with the help of the partisans. At this time shootings began in order to eradicate the movement. In January and February 1944 ,several hundreds Jews were shot by a Gestapo unit.
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