Escape to Freedom Part 2: Jail in Cernauti and then Jewish Ghetto (Fall 1941)

Part 2 of Gil’s story

I continue my dad’s life story, from the article Escape to Freedom. The story picks up after his escape from the mobile killing squads, he is in jail in Czernowitz.

Though Gil had cheated death, he felt it was only a temporary reprieve. Finally, the police sent a doctor to patch him up and threw him into a jail cell. For a week, he subsisted on water and stale bread. Gil’s parents, in hiding, persuaded a sympathetic Rumanian policeman to find their son. The policeman located the half-starved boy in prison and managed to secure his release…subsequently, the Germans herded all the surviving Jews into a special ghetto…One night Gil violated curfew to go out and forage for food…(excerpt from Escape from Freedom)

During this time, Ion Antonescu was in power. His government included ministers from the ranks of the Iron Guard, and Romania was declared a Nationalist-Legionary State (the members of the Iron Guard styled themselves “legionnaires”). The “legionary police” was organized on Nazi lines with the help of the S.S. and the S.D. Jewish businesses were confiscated and the owners were arrested and tortured until they agreed to sign certificates of transfer.

Dr. Nathan Getzler Memoir

I found some very interesting  diary pages online from a Dr. Nathan Getzler that relate a similar deportation experience during the same place and time (October 10-11, 1941). This seems to match up perfectly, if my dad was in jail in the summer of 1941 and reunited with his parents soon after.

(Below is a quote from Nathan Getzler’s memoir) We are notified orally that all Jews of Czernowitz must report to the ghetto set up for them by 6 o’clock in the evening and that anyone found in his home after 6 o’clock will be shot. The Jews are only permitted to take as many of their possessions are they can carry in their hands. Any possessions that remain belong to the state.Before 7 in the morning, the entire Jewish population is on the move.

With clenched teeth, looking neither left or right, tens of thousands of Jews carry and pull their meager belongings to the area set aside for them as a ghetto.

czernowitzLocation of the 1941 Czernowitz Ghetto

Dr. Getzler next lists the area of Cernauti the ghetto encompasses:

  • part of Wolangasse
  • Str. Olteniei
  • Neueweltgasse
  • Pitzelligasse
  • the entire Russische Gasse from number 46 up
  • the Morariugasse
  • Nikolausgasse
  • Landhausgasse to the corner of Tuerkengasse
  • Schulgasse to the Krankenkasse
  • Hormuzakigasse
  • Mehlplatz
  • Eminescugasse
  • Steingasse the upper part of Dreifaltigkeitgasse
  • the area inside the border of the city adjacent to the above

The movement of the Jews into the ghetto is completed quietly, without interruption by 6 in the evening without moaning or complaining despite provocations by the onlookers. One quickly throws what ever one can grab into suitcases, baskets and crates and carries it to acquaintances that moved into the ghetto earlier. Small rooms, hardly sufficient for a family now hold up to 20 people.  
In the ghetto itself, people are constantly stopped by the patrols and harassed. The gendarmerie headquarters is located in the house at Russische Gasse 46… 

Various lists were made up for presentation to the authorities, classifying the Jews by their professions. That could be the origin of a list I found where my grandfather Samuel and his relatives were listed by address and profession. schmatnick-01






Czernowitz Ghetto (photos)


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