Located NW of Odessa; NW of Kishinev
A City in Bessarabia, Moldava, known in Romanian as Balti. The city was in Romania from 1918 - 40 and from 1941 - 44. Jews were invited to live there in 1779 when an urban nucleus was formed in what was then a village.
The community numbered 3,124 in 1864 and had grown to 10,348 in 1897 (560f the total population) even though Jewish domicile was limited by legislation and Jews were often expelled from the city as illegal residents. As an outcome of these expulsions, coupled with economic difficulties, many Jews from Beltsy emigrated toward the end of the 19th century, including a group to Eretz Israel. In 1847 a Jewish state school was opened in Beltsy. a talmud torah, founded in 1889, provided instruction in both Jewish and general subjects. By the 1930's Jewish educational institutions included a kindergarten, three elementary schools, and two secondary schools, for boys and girls. Welfare institutions included a hospital and old - age home. The Jews in Beltsy were mainly occupied in commerce and crafts; some living in the vicinity engaged in agriculture. The Jewish population numbered 14,259 (4620030054f the total) in 1930.When Bessarabia passed to Russia in June 1940, the communal organization was disbanded.
The Holocaust Period and After
In June 1941, about two - thirds of the town's buildings were destroyed in German and Romanian air raids. The Jews fled to the nearby villages, mainly to Vlad. On July 7, a gang of Vlad peasants fell upon homes sheltering the refugees, murdered the occupants and set fire to the houses. The next day, a group of Romanian soldiers came upon 50 Jews on the road to Beltsy, drove them into the swamps and shot them to death. Beltsy was captured by the Germans on July 9 and those Jews who had returned were deported to a concentration camp. The same day ten Jews who had been taken as hostages were executed. The Gestapo also asked the ghetto committee to furnish a list of 20 "Jewish communists" who were to be put to death. When they refused to do so, all the committee members, together with another group of 44 Jews, were forced to dig their own graves and shot. Twenty more Jews were shot by the Germans on July 16. On July 11, 1941 all the surviving Jews were concentrated in the courtyard of the Moldova Bank. The Romanian guards who took over transferred them from their to an internment camp in the Rautel forest, some seven and a half miles (12 km.) from the town. Many of the inmates died from starvation and disease. By August 30, 1941, only 8,941 Jews were left in the entire district (as against the 31,916 residing there according to the 1930 census). They were concentrated in three camps, and later on all were deported to Transnistria. Even the Jewish tombstones were removed from the cemetery in Beltsy to erase all traces of the Jewish inhabitants of the town, Jews returned to Beltsy after the war. The only synagogue was closed by the authorities in 1959 and the Jewish cemetery was badly neglected. In 1962 militia broke into a house where Jews had assembled for prayer; those attending were taken to the public square where communist youth had been gathered to jeer them. Their children were expelled from school.
Sources: Kagan 1366.
Research Contact: Chaim