(Translated from "The Holocaust of Northern Bukovina Jews" Pages 73-75)
Banila on Siret (from Rabbi Mordechai Horowitz testimony in Yad Vashem)
Banila on Siret (Mold-Banila) was a well-established community, also known to Bukovina Jews as "Bnilev" (Banilew). Indeed, already in 1900 the village was mentioned in writing.
The first Jews settled in Banila in 1780 or so, when they arrived from Austria (Galicia) and Russia. I myself was the third Rabbi in this place.
The community had three synagogues, a cemetery, a Yeshiva, administered by me, "Talmud Torah" School, "Beit Yaakov" school for girls and a school for Hebrew.
The community had a community house that was built after the First World War. This building also served the Hebrew school. One of the synagogues was near the Yeshiva building, to be closer for the students.
In addition, in possession of the community was an old community bathhouse with a ritual bath and a new bathhouse, built after World War I with separate ritual baths for women and men. Solomon Zisman served as community President, and members of the community leadership were Gottesman, Edelsberg, Langerman, Mrs. Yente Zetren and Jacob Brecher, who had a large library and was a Zionist and philanthropist.
Among the social Societies the "Bikur Holim" ("visiting the sick") association should be noted. Jews were represented in the City Council, and Mendel Gottesman has also served for a while as the mayor. His successor was also a Jew.
I do not know the history of the place, but according to the stories of elderly Jews, Jews began settling in Banila immediately after the annexation of Bukovina to Austria. The first Jews were working in agriculture and forestry.
Zionist association was established in the village, and a branch of "Mizrahi" was particularly active, organizing training towards immigration to Israel.
Among the Christian population were Romanians, Ruthenians, Germans and Poles. Between them and the Jews excellent relations prevailed. A closed German settlement named Aogostndorf (Augustendorf) was established near Banila, but in the fall of 1940 almost all Germans left to Germany voluntarily, after the Russians gave them eight months extension to decide on it and eliminate their affairs. They were allowed to sell everything and take with them the money, valuables and provisions. In return to their homes and their lands they were given adequate compensation according to a decision of a joint German-Russian. In autumn of 1940 the German originators were driven by special trains to Germany, when German military unit with medical staff organized their transportation. Settlement of the German immigrants from these areas was agreed by the Russians and Hitler's Germany, when good relations existed between them at the time. However, many Jews from Banila and thousands of Bukovina Jews were accused by the Russians as Zionists or the bourgeois and were sent to Siberia. They were taken from their beds at night and transported by trucks and trains in terrible conditions to Siberia, where many died.
(Note: As we know, the Romanians responded in June 1940 to the Russian ultimatum to leave from Bessarabia and Northern Bukovina. These areas were from 28 June 1940 until the outbreak of the war on June 22, 1941 under Russian rule).
In Banila anti-Semitism almost did not exist. The town's Jews were diligent and honest, and they have won the respect of Christian residents. I served often as a mediator, trying not to get into criticizing, justified or unjustified, isolated formalities. Christians knew my views and influence and came to me for peace-making in the event of a dispute with Jew (border disputes, commercial disputes, etc.). I acted without bias and established peace between the rivals, so that both sides were pleased.
Until the Second World War anti-Semitic outbursts did not occur in Banila. The mayor, who was elected in 1939 with the help of the Cuza-Goga party, was friendly to the Jews, and when members of the party claimed against them that they are not expelling Jews, they told them that the Banila Jews are honest and willing to help the poor Christians and to support them. When he was in distress, an old Jew provided him with means of livelihood, free of charge, and when his horse died the Banila Jews held an appeal, so he can buy a new horse.
As they retreated, in June 1940, the Romanians robbed from the Jews cows and horses, and five of the Jews, who were trying to regain their animals, were shot by Romanian soldiers.
Employment of the Banila Jews was related to the forested environment of the city, and indeed, there were three sawmills and flour mills, which employed Jews and local employees as clerks and workers. In addition to commerce, Jews were engaged in metalwork, carpentry, painting, shoemaking and hair dressing. Some Jews were truck drivers, and the town had three Jewish doctors and a Jewish pharmacist.
The first synagogue was opened, probably, between 1820 to 1830 and in the three synagogues there were libraries, though they had no rare writings.
Almost all people with the ability have contributed to the "Keren Kayemet", and the Zionist branch frequently organized fellowship evenings or lectures. In the Zionist Organization Jacob Brecher was particularly active.
Banila community numbered about twelve hundred people, and two hundred of them paid community taxes. In the small communities near Banila, such as DAVIDANY, Hilcze, Koszczuja and other small villages, there was no community management, and they were annexed to the Banila community. Community revenues came mainly from community taxes and slaughtering fees.
From his testimony at "Yad Vashem"