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Two Tales of One City

(From: Morris Dalfen, born in 1910 - Radauti, emigrated to Canada in 1928)

Radauti, was, until 1918, under the domination of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and the Emperor Franz Josef. Its population of approximately 24,000 people was divided into equal thirds - of Romanian, German, and Jewish. According to some former residents, the city's population was made up of over 20,000, with only about 3,000 Jews. The language spoken was German.

Located in, Bukovina, Radauti practically touches the Ukrainian border, in the beautiful Carpathian Mountains. Because of the abundance of forests, one of the main industries of the region was that of lumber.

There were 4 or 5 lumberyards in the city and its surroundings, only one in the actual city-center, the rest, being on the outskirts. Some merchants also had customers in Dorohoi, and other nearby cities in Bukovina.

Every Friday, there was a "marketplace", where the wholesale trading took place, and the deals were made. At the beginning, the "marketplace" was held in the city, in a special location, set up for it; later, it was moved to the city's outskirts.

(From Nettie Kastner Moses, born in Radauti - 1922, emigrated to Israel - 1948, then Canada in 1951; Transnistria Survivor)

"There were no secular public schools, except the elementary ones; parents had to pay to send their children to High School, and, therefore, only those, who were relatively comfortable financially, could afford to educate their children at the secondary level.

The girls went to the 'Lycee', the boys to the 'Gymnasium', housed in separate buildings. Everyone wore identical uniforms, and each student was assigned a number, which was pinned on the sleeve of his or her clothing at all times, to assist the teachers in identifying them. Nettie describes how the children were all in awe of the teachers, who were called 'professors'; they were as highly respected as could be imagined.

There had been one teacher, very much loved by the students. She came from a rather well-to-do family, and traveled considerably. On one trip, to the delight of the students, she sent postcards to some of them - this was most unusual! And, on another occasion, several of the students had the good fortune to be invited to her home for tea. This was an unheard of honour - to be invited to the home of a teacher!

The schools had regular classes six days a week - Nettie's father was opposed to his children taking part in classes on Shabbos, but, remembering how he had suffered due to not having had a higher education, allowed them to attend, but not to write.

Every week there were "Religion" classes in the afternoon, and the Jewish children were sometimes excused from attending, sometimes not, depending on the discretion of the teacher. Since the majority of the population were followers of the Orthodox Church, there were separate, private religious classes for Protestants and Jews. On Sundays, they had Jewish religious and Hebrew lessons, given by a Rabbi in his home, to a group of children."

The Romanians had started discriminatory practices against the Jews, after Hitler came to power, in l933. At first slowly, but then increasingly, until war actually broke out in l938, in Radauti (and in all of Bukovina), all the children had spoken German, as a mother-tongue, as they had been "Austrian", until l9l8, but now, they were no longer allowed to speak anything but Romanian, in school. When Nettie was at the point of entering her last year of High School, with a desire to later go on to University, all Jews were banned from attending schools. This, effectively, put an end to the formal education of Nettie and her contemporaries.

submitted by Merle Kastner


Copyright © 1998 Merle Kastner