LEOVA
Moldova

This web site is dedicated to the study of the Jewish History of the town of Leova, Moldova

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LOCATION: 46°29' N, 28°15' E - 100 km SW of Chisinau (Kishinev) on the Prut River

OTHER NAMES:
Leova [Rom, Mold, Yid], леово (Leovo) [Rus], Leowa [Ger], Leowo [Pol], Leva, Levo


Leova kindergarten school bus
Children bundled up in winter clothing pose on a horse-drawn
cart with a man near a wooden fence (Leova, 1920)
(Written in Yiddish) "This is how Shaye used to bring the children to kindergarten."

Photo provided by YIVO Institute for Jewish Research, New York, NY. All rights reserved.







LEOVA MAPS

      The river and the rail are the only two modes of safe travel and conveyance in this part of Romania.  In fact the road... does not exist!  There is but a simple dirt track through the vast steppe of corn and wheat, which is difficult to discern when no other travelers are upon it.  The trace of a previous vehicle is recognizable as deep ruts left in the mud as there is no paving.  Trajan, alas! and not Julius Caesar, conquered Dacia.  These dirt tracks crossing marshes and meadows are washed away with the slightest rain.  The roads must constantly be repaired.  Wide and shallow ditches are dug on either side of the dirt tracks to provide more dirt to repair the roads.  However, the rain can turn these ditches into lakes, worsening the ability to travel by road.  When it’s dry one travels amidst a cloud of dust, when it rains the car gets stuck in the mud up to the bumper.  Like a caravan trail in the middle of the Sahara, the Bessarabian road is dotted with dead horses and sheep, which decay in the hot July sun.  To travel by car is folly ten months out of the year...

      ...The streets are like the roads, mere paths, badly defined, either flooded or full of dust. The ground, fortunately, has a slope and is quite permeable. Water is quickly absorbed and the fetid puddles that form when it rains do not remain for long. A task of modernization has been undertaken in recent years. Sidewalks were constructed on the main street and acacia trees were planted. Unfortunately, this concern did not extend to the street surface itself, which has not improved. The street is a common grazing area for geese and pigs that wallow at ease and for large bands of crows from the steppe that fill the air with their mournful cries. No sewers, no gutters. On a rainy day, a large stream zigzags down the middle of the street and one must protect one’s feet with rubber galoshes, that is if one dares to leave the house at all....

     ...Horse-drawn carriages are the vehicle of choice in Leova, which boasts only four cars! Even the bicycle is rarely seen. The typical peasant conveyance is a rectangular box of sorts, mounted on four wheels and drawn by two or three horses.
  • Leova Port Map (1932): Description | 1932 Port Map (1.2 MB) - Special thanks to Mrs. Yocheved Klausner for her assistance in translating this document.
  • Leova City Map (1935)
  • Leova City Map (June 6, 1941) (3 MB) - This map was drafted by Otto Wolff, a German Jew from Leova.  In 1940 Otto and his family joined an estimated 93,000 German colonists who were evacuated from Bessarabia to repatriation camps in German held territory.  Shortly after the Wolff family arrived at the repatriation camp in Reid im Innkreis, Austria, Otto was taken away from his family and forced to draw this map. Hear the whole story from Otto's son
  • Leova City Map (November 20, 1941) (4.6 MB) - Professionally drawn map of Leova from the Moldovan State Archives.
  • Leova City Map (1965) (1.2 MB) - This map shows some of the Soviet street names that were used between the end of WWII and 1991, when the Soviet Union collapsed and Moldova declared independence.
  • Leova City Map (2004) -This map shows the street names that have been used from 1991 to present.  Though the names are again Romanian, only a few streets  were reassigned their pre WWII names.
  • Aerial Photo comparison - Leova 1944 and 2009
  • List property in Leova owned by Jews (with street addresses): Original Romanian (1 MB) | English Translation - About one year after the Germans and Romanians invaded Russia, the Romanian administration that governed the town of Leova, put together the following report of how they were exploiting the real estate properties owned by citizens collectively defined as "evacuated". The term "evacuated" refers not only to Jews who either fled or were victims of the Holocaust, but also to Leova residents of German heritage who were voluntarily evacuated between September and November of 1940, and to those who were deported to Siberia and Central Asia by the Soviet authorities in 1940-1941. This report, dated July 31, 1942, lists the name of the former owners of the each real estate property, the street address, the name of the new tenant and the annual rent the new tenant was paying.


LEOVA BEFORE WORLD WAR II
  • Rakhel Aizenghendler
                                        (1922)
  • Rakhel Aizicovici
  • Rakhel Aksman (1922)
  • Aksman (1921)
  • Adel Beigeldrut (1922)
  • Beniamin Beigeldrut (1938)
  • Etel Beigeldrut (1920)
  • Rakhel Beigeldrut (1925)
  • Sara Beigeldrut (1923)
  • Shmuel Leib Beigeldrut
                                        (1921)
  • Yosef Beigeldrut (1922)
  • Risia Blanc (1922)
  • Misha Blinderman
  • Polya Blinderman
  • Shloima Blinderman
  • Blinderman (1921)
  • Yosef Boiangiu
  • Haya Boiangiu née Kogan
  • D. Catz (1922)
  • David Cazac-Auerbuch (1921)
  • Eliezer Cazac
  • David Chiobanu
  • Fani Chiobanu née Scherman
  • Shmuel Cioclea (1938)
  • Shloim Dubin
  • Wife of Shloim Dubin
  • Daughter of Shloim Dubin
  • Ryful Elinger
  • Fayn (1921)
  • Fayn (1921)
  • Yekhiel Fisher (1922)
  • Nissan Fishman (1921)
  • Yehudit Fishman (1922)
  • Fokshenianu (1921)
  • Yaakov Frenkle (1922)
  • Frenkle (1921)
  • Rakhel Frukhtman (1922)
  • Mordekhai Genzir (1922)
  • Yosef Genzir (1922)
  • Genzir (1921)
  • Boris Giterman
  • Azriel Gold (1922)
  • Iosif Gold
  • Batia Helberg (1922)
  • Helberg (1921)
  • Hornshtein (1921)
  • Yeshaya Hornshtein (1922)
  • Abraham Hukshtet (1922)
  • Shloima Kaufman
  • Khaia Kaufman née
                                        Iankelzon
  • Kaufman (1921)
  • Rivka Kreizel née
                                        Shvartzman
  • Isak Kroiter
  • Lona Kuperman
  • Simkha Kvich
  • Mendel Lieberman (1922)
  • Moshe Lieberman (1922)
  • Lieberman (1921)
  • Golda Matis
  • Hersh Matis
  • Berl Matis
  • Eli Matis
  • Favil Matis
  • Fishl Matis
  • Mishel (1921)
  • Mordekhai Perlman (1922)
  • St. Petranka (1922)
  • Leizer Reidel
  • Rubinger (1922)
  • Rubinger (1921)
  • Dina Rubinger (1922)
  • Yaakov Sactsier (1922)
  • Sactsier (1921)
  • L. Schaffer (1922)
  • Zilja Schaffer (1922)
  • Schaffer (1922)
  • Meir Shecter (1922)
  • Yisrael Shlafer (1922)
  • Shvartz (1921)
  • M. Spinadel (1921)
  • Steinberg (1921)
  • B. Titinzey (1922)
  • Fanya Tolmatzkaya née
                                        Kvich
  • Isaac & Surka Vaserman
  • Shloima Vaserman
  • Yossel Vaserman (1920)
  • Moshe Velzer
  • Otto Wolff (1945)
  • Barukh Yuger
  • Zelikovitsh (1921)
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LEOVA DURING WORLD WAR II/THE HOLOCAUST

The 1930 census, the last one completed prior to the war, counted 2,326 Jews living in Leova, about 1/3rd of the entire town population. In June 1940 the Romanians handed over Bessarabia and Bucovina to the USSR as part of the terms of the Molotov Ribbentrop pact. As Romanian troops left Bessarabia, soldiers committed many atrocities in their wake, however the Jews of Leova were unharmed. However, just a month later the Soviets started deporting citizens of their newly annexed territories to Siberia, including Zionist leaders and wealthy Jews. In June 1941 some Jews in Leova sensed war was coming and fled east, into central Asia. Other able bodied men joined the fight against the Germans by enlisting in the Soviet Army. When the Germans invaded the Soviet Union on June 22, 1941, those Jews who stayed in Leova and hoped for the best almost all perished. Many who weren't killed on the spot were interned in a concentration camp near the city of Cahul.

The following documents add some more detailed information on the fates of the Jews of Leova:
  • The List of People from Leova Persecuted by the Soviet Regime 1940-41:  Original Romanian (3.4 MB) | English Translation - During the brief Soviet occupation of Bessarabia between June 1940 and the beginning of the war in June 1941 many Bessarabians were persecuted under the Stalin regime.   This document  lists the names  and sentences of Leova citizens, both Jews and Gentiles persecuted by the Soviets between 1940 and 1941.
    • This information is from the book Cartea Memoriei: Catalog Al Victimelor Totalitarismului Comunist. Special thanks to the author, Elena Postica, for granting permission to republish this list.
  • The Ethnic German Community in Leova: English - As one of the conditions of the 1939 Molotov Ribbentrop nonaggression pact between Germany and Russia, in late 1940 the ethnic Germans residing in Bessarabia were offered resettlement in Germany. Fearing Soviet oppression, almost all (93,000) agreed.  The approximate 20 ethnic German families residing in Leova were apparently mostly Jewish.  They too chose to evacuate and  often met with harsh conditions when they arrived at repatriation camps in Germany and Austria.
  • Soviet Extraordinary State Commission (SESC) Report Concerning the Massacres of the Jewish population of Leova Region by the Fascists: It is not possible to get an accurate list of all who fell victim to  the Germans and Romanians but in 1942 the Soviet Union launched the "Extraordinary State Commission to investigate German–Fascist crimes on Soviet territory".  The document presented here was created by the Extraordinary Commission from testimonies of neighbors, witnesses, and survivors.  - Special thanks to Gary Goldberg and Janet Furba for translating these documents.
  • The List of Jews from Leova Interned in Cahul Camp: Original Romanian (7.5 MB) | English Translation - Those Jews who managed to survive the initial German attack but were unable to avoid being captured were handed over to the Romanian  Gendarmes who marched them to "transit camps" .  Many more died or were killed on these "death marches".  This document, obtained from the archive of US Holocaust Memorial Museum,  lists the names of 389 Jews, most from Leova and surrounding villages, who managed to make it to the Cahul Transit Camp.
    • Additional information about Cahul Camp and a description of conditions in Bessarabian transit camps: Original English (1 mb) - Pages 128-133 of "The Holocaust in Romania: The Destruction of Jews and Gypsies Under the Antonescu Regime, 1940-1944", by Radu Ioanid , Published by Ivan R. Dee Publisher, an imprint of The Rowman & Littlefield Publishing Group, in association with the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, All Rights Reserved.
  • Index of Jewish Refugees in Tashkent: Introduction | List in English - Many people from all part of the Soviet Union  fled east, ahead of the advancing Nazi Army and eventually ended up in Central  Asia.  This documents lists the names of over 100 Jews from Leova who managed to reach a refugee camps in Tashkent, the capital city of Uzbekistan, where they endured horrible conditions but were out of reach of the Germans. Each entry in this list includes a hyperlink to the original registration card (Russian) for that individual.
  • Citizens of Leova that died during WWII while fighting Facism: Photo of plaque and list transcribed into English - Others joined or were conscripted into the Red Army and fought against the Nazi's.  Some survived, many did not.  This monument, erected in 1970 in the Leova town center, list the names Leova citizens  who died during  World War II while serving in the Soviet military.
  • Aerial Surveillance Photos of Leova - May 25, 1944 (2.5 MB) | Between April and August 1944 (2.2 MB) - These two photos come from the U.S. National Archive collection of German WWII documents.  They apparently were taken before and after a bombing run, as the May 25th photo shows a bridge over the Prut River.  In the second photo the bridge is no longer present.


TESTIMONIES OF HOLOCAUST SURVIVORS FROM LEOVA
Each of these testimonies begins with a discussion about prewar life in Leova.
Aron Aronovich - Russian language with English subtitles - Length 00:52:28
    Presented with permission of University of Southern California Shoah Foundation Institute.
Aronovich - Part 1 of 2 (00:27:56)
Aronovich - Part 2 of 2 (00:24:32)

Zilja Feldhammer née Schaffer - German language with English subtitles - Length 03:37:26
    Presented with permission of University of Southern California Shoah Foundation Institute.
Feldhammer - Part 1 of 8 (00:28:07)
Feldhammer - Part 3 of 8 (00:27:19)
Feldhammer - Part 5 of 8 (00:29:09)
Feldhammer - Part 7 of 8 (00:29:00)
Feldhammer - Part 2 of 8 (00:31:45)
Feldhammer - Part 4 of 8 (00:27:46)
Feldhammer - Part 6 of 8 (00:29:01)
Feldhammer - Part 8 of 8 (00:15:19)

Pavel - English language - Length 02:31:20
    Interviewed by Joel D. Waters, August 29, 2012
Pavel - Part 1 of 3 (00:52:56)
Pavel - Part 3 of 3 (01:14:09)
Pavel - Part 2 of 3 (00:24:15)


Zelig Leshem (AKA Zelig Ungar)  - Hebrew language with English subtitles - Length 01:10:00
    Presented with permission of Yad Vashem, The Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Authority
Zelig Leshem (01:10:00)
If you know how to contact Mr. Leshem or his family, please e-mail the Webmaster.  We would like to acquire photos of Mr. Leshem to add to this video.




YIZKOR BOOKS
  • A Town in Eastern Europe: Leova (Bessarabia):  Original French (3.7 MB) | English Translation (2.0 MB) | JewishGen Yizkor Books Project - An article by Michel Roblin, La Géographie Magazine - April 1935. a publication of Société de Géographie, Paris, France, 24 pages.  Great appreciation to Heidi Sylvia Volf and Daniella Volf for their exceptional work translating this document.
  • Our House in Leova: Original Yiddish (750 KB) | English Translation - A book of the memoirs by Jacob Baltzan, who was born in Leova in 1872 and lived there until 1904.
  • Encyclopedia of Jewish Communities in Romania: Original Hebrew (100 KB) | English Translation - A short section about Leova.


LEOVA JEWISH CEMETERY



FAMILY PHOTOS AND STORIES



PROPERTY RESTITUTION ISSUES

In considering grounds for filing property restitution claims, an important distinction needs to be made between persecution by the Nazis and Romanians in the Holocaust and persecution by the Soviets before and after World War II under Stalin

Unfortunately there is currently no Moldovan law to compensate victims of Nazi/Romanian persecution during World War II.  It is unclear whether Romanian laws to compensate Holocaust victims apply to victims from Bessarabia.

Moldovan citizens who were persecuted by the Soviet Regime and their heirs can pursue property restitution under Moldovan Law Nr. 1225 dated December 8, 1992 Russian | Romanian | English Translation (Unofficial) 
  • See The List of People from Leova Persecuted by the Soviet Regime 1940-41  Original Romanian (3.4 MB) | English Translation to determine if your family members are officially recognized by the Moldovan authorities as victims of Soviet persecution. 
  • See also the 1942 List of Real Estate Property Confiscated by the Romanian Authorities Original Romanian (1 MB) | English Translation to determine your family's real estate holdings in Leova.
Unclaimed Securities Assets - List of 28 people from Leova who held shares in Jewish Colonial Trust that were never claimed.  Heirs can claim these assets by clicking here



GENEALOGICAL RESOURCES



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Compiled by Joel D. Waters and Rennie M. Salz
Last updated July 19, 2014
Copyright 2009 Rennie M. Salz
Copyright 2010-2014 Joel D. Waters

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