Transnistria

17382108_403During the Romanian occupation of 1941–44, between 150,000 and 250,000 Ukrainian and Romanian Jews were deported to Transnistria – literally ‘beyond the Dniester’ – a strip of land between what is now Moldava and the Ukraine. The majority were from Czernowitz (100,000 plus from Czernowitz alone) or other towns or cities in Bukovina, Romania. Most were executed or died from other causes in ghettos and concentration camps. Regina Blei Honigsberg and two of her children among them. Her husband, Fillip, was able to move to Palestine.

In my research about Transnistria, I found the story of Arthur Rindner, also of Czernowitz, who was four years old when his family was deported. He revisits Transnistria (now Trans-Dniester) and relates his survival stories. He and his father were able to duck out of the month-long march and hide in a barn loft. Another heartbreaking story he relates involves the powers at the time offering to deport children to Palestine. His father sells his extracted gold teeth to buy a ticket so that Arthur can escape. This turns out to be a cruel trap to extract money and murder all the children whose parents were able to fund their ‘escape’. Arthur spent much of the war in Bershad, where Regina and Fillip were also deported.

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