Chișinău  ~  Кишинев  ~  Kishinev

  Kehilalink Search

To visualize the dropdown menu you have to activate Javascript. Goto the SITE MAP

The Kishinev Ghetto

Compiled by Ella Romm

The fact that Jewish ghetto existed in Chisinau during the Second World War, has been heard by many. The horrors of that time have been described with details in many sources. We are going to enhance this knowledge with some new materials, looking at the events through the eyes of the witnesses. The newspapers and photographs of that time will help us as well.

The Chisinau ghetto was established on July 25, 1941. It was one of the first ordinances issued by the Chisinau military commander Colonel D. Tudos. The "Basarabia" newspaper dated August 6, 1941 published the following article (preserving the propaganda style and specific terminology of the original shown below):

"Basarabia", August 6, 1941

Our Romanian Bessarabia, despite the horrible scars of national liberation war, is coming back to the mainstream of orderly life, such as it was before the June 28, 1940.

Jews, destroying everything in their path, burning churches and institutions, fled with the Red Army to Moscow to Siberia, to the Urals and beyond. Opposed to civilization and the Heavens, opposed to the Christianity, these defilers of the icons finally took the masks off and demonstrated their true feelings and "love" for the peaceful and patient Romanian people.

They wanted to bring us to our knees, to make us their servants. But their time has passed. Now is the payback hour for the committed deeds!

Mr. General Voiculescu, the Governor of Bessarabia, is sleeplessly looking out for the normal flow of the new life. Civilian and military authorities isolated a special area of Chisinau for the remaining Jews. None of them has the right to leave this ghetto without permission from the appropriate commander, except for purchasing food. Pending a final solution of the Jewish question in liberated Bessarabia, this measure is the most suitable for all those Romanian territories that have suffered from the actions of those peysatyh without homeland. This is necessary because the Jews stayed in Chisinau pursuing their usual criminal goals of weakening the foundations of our nation-state.

We know the boundaries of the Jewish ghetto in Chisinau. So called "bottom" area of the city, originally inhabited mostly by Jews, was selected for the ghetto. This is how it looks on the map of the modern Chisinau:

The boundaries of the Chisinau Jewish ghetto in 1941

The ghetto was surrounded by a high wooden fence with two secure checkpoints.

Wooden fence, boundaries of Chisinau ghetto

One of the two checkpoints in Chisinau ghetto

About 100 Christian families were still living in their homes on the territory of the ghetto. Also, some industrial facilities continued to operate there. Moving in and out of the ghetto was only possible for non-Jews and for the people with special permits. Jews could leave the ghetto only by organized groups under military escort for a variety of forced labor.

Moving in and out of the ghetto was only possible for non-Jews and by passes

Moving in and out of the ghetto was only possible for non-Jews and by passes

The ghetto was occupied by about 11,000 Jews remained in Chisinau. We need to understand that most of them were extremely poor, that is why they decided to stay in town and not evacuate with the others. Ghetto was governed by a Board of 20 people through whom the interaction with the military command of the city occurred. But mostly people were abandoned to their fate. In order not to starve to death, they had to sell the last property they managed to save from looting in the early days of the seizure of the city. Trade was permitted in the ghetto; farmers were allowed to sell food to the Jews.

The residual photos show the sad pictures of the Chisinau ghetto market.

In the market of the Chisinau Jewish ghetto, 1941

Romanian soldiers in the market of the Chisinau Jewish ghetto

In the market of the Chisinau Jewish ghetto, 1941

In the market of the Chisinau Jewish ghetto, 1941

In the market of the Chisinau Jewish ghetto, 1941

This situation has created a fertile ground for many abuses. The newspaper "Basarabia" on November 3, 1941 reported the capture of a Dambruza Diomede, a former official of the tax administration of Chisinau. Diomede illegally crossed the ghetto boundaries and bought gold from the Jews. During the search of the offender, 92,000 lei and 250 grams of gold and jewelry were found.

"Basarabia", November 3, 1941

Some wealthy Jews managed to leave the ghetto, bribing guards. In the same local newspaper "Basarabia" of December 9, 1941, there is a note about an arrest of three former police officers (Ion Rohan A. Stanescu and Grigore Nyamczu). It is reported that these people for a considerable sum of money staged an escape of Jews from the ghettos of Chisinau and Chernivtsi.

"Basarabia", December 9, 1941 By no means all the fugitives managed to escape from the authorities. The newspaper "Basarabia" on April 24, 1942 shows some examples of captures of the Jews who had escaped from the ghetto of Chisinau and hid in Bucharest:

"Basarabia", April 24, 1942

Security of the ghetto was carried out by Romanian troops. From those who were contained in the ghetto, at the request of representatives of the German troops or Romanian command, brigades to be sent to forced labor were formed. You can see one of these teams on the photo taken by the German officer in Chisinau.

Chisinau, 1941. Sending Jews for forced labor

Although most of the Bessarabian Jews were murdered across the Dniester River, in Transnistria, isolated cases of massacres took place in Chisinau.

There are several cases described in the work "Cartea Neagr?. Suferin?ele evreilor din România 1940-1944" published in Bucharest in 1947.

On August 1, 1941 a German lieutenant came to the chairman of the community of the Chisinau ghetto and demanded 250 men and 200 women for labor. Jews were gathered at the appointed time and a German officer accompanied by three soldiers, came to make the selection, choosing mostly intellectuals and attractive women (for that, according to the written statement by a witness, even binoculars were used), then he left with the group of 450 Jews. In the evening of the same day only 39 old Jews returned and stated that the remaining 411 people were shot near Visterniceni. The survivors were sent back to report this event.

On August 7 and 8, 1941, a road inspector came to the ghetto and demanded 500 men to work on the construction of a Ghidighici. The requested number of Jews was allocated to him, as well as an additional 25 women for food preparation. About a week later only 100 who were unable to work anymore returned, while the remaining 425 had never come back.

Monument to the Victims of Fascism, established in Visterniceni on the site of mass executions

Chisinau Jews were locked up in the ghetto for several awful months, and then deported to camps on the other side the Dniester River where most of them found their deaths.

In the "Basarabia" newspaper from November 4, 1941, we find this note (the style and specific terminology is preserved; see the original below):

Finally the city of Chisinau got rid of Jewish leprosy

According to the available information, the last transport of Jews the other day left from Chisinau. As a result, the City Hall has started an inventory of the property of these Jews and those who left the city and went to Soviet Russia with the fleeing Bolsheviks. At the moment, a cataloging of the abandoned Jewish goods is taking place. All goods will be stored and then sold to the public. Thus, thanks to the firm actions of Marshal, the capital of Bessarabia got rid of the Jewish leprosy that plagued Moldovans between the rivers Prut and Dniester for so long.

"Basarabia", November 4, 1941

Sorting out and storing the Jewish property took some time. In January 1942, in the "Basarabia" newspaper a detailed description of the selling procedure was published: to whom and how the property will be sold, the discounts and more.

"Basarabia", January, 1942

The Second World War radically changed the appearance of Chisinau and the ethnic composition of the city inhabitants. If the pre-war Chisinau could definitely be called Jewish (40% of the population were Jews), in the early years of the war virtually no Jews were left there. After the war, the Jewish population returned to the city from the evacuation, but Chisinau has never become what it once was.

The only reminder of the Jewish ghetto in Chisinau is a monument founded in the 1990s in the honor of the victims. The monument stands on the Jerusalem Street, the former ghetto territory.

In memory of the victims of the Jewish ghetto

Authored by Yuri Shvets
Translated from Russian to English by Ella and Michael Romm (San Diego, California)
Based on the materials of the forum “My city of Chisinau",
Photos - Bundesarchiv,, from the author's collection.

Other photos of Chisinau ghetto (from the Internet)

Photos from the United State Holocaust Memorial Museum

Jewish women at forced labor, in the process of clearing rubble from the main street.
Chisinau, Bessarabia, Romania, August 12, 1941.
— Georg Westermann Verlag – Werkarchiv Westermann

Jews of the Chisinau ghetto gathered for deportation to Transnistria. Chisinau, Bessarabia, Romania,
October 28, 1941.
— Georg Westermann Verlag – Werkarchiv Westermann

Romanian soldiers supervise the deportation of Jews from Chisinau.
Chisinau, Bessarabia, Romania, October 28, 1941.
— Georg Westermann Verlag – Werkarchiv Westermann

Photos from

Chisinau, USSR, August 1941, a street in the ghetto.

Photos from Wikipedia (History of the Jews in Bessarabia)

Chisinau ghetto, August 1941

Chisinau ghetto, August 1941

Chisinau ghetto, August 1941

Share this page by email
Get Started | Contact A.Parkansky | Site Map | Bessarabia SIG website | JewishGen Home
This page is hosted at no cost to the public by JewishGen, Inc., a non-profit corporation. If you feel there is a benefit to you in accessing this site, your [JewishGen-erosity] is appreciated. © A.Parkansky 2015-2023 - All Rights Reserved.