The Romanian Way of Solving the “Jewish Problem” in Bessarabia and Bukovina, June-July 1941
The first Romanian murder of Jews took place in June 1940 when troops withdrew from the provinces of Bukovina and Bessarabia (ceded to the USSR). Antonescu decided to eradicate the Jewish population of these provinces upon their re-annexation in July 1941. The Gendarmerie and the Pretoriat were chosen to carry out special orders for the deportation and murder of Jews. The orders were given orally to selected officers. The general population knew of an order permitting attacks on the Jews in the first twenty-four hours of the occupation; peasant bands in rural areas attacked their Jewish neighbors. Also described is the mass shooting of Jews in towns by Romanian troops accompanied by German units, incited by propaganda presenting the Jews as traitors. Rural areas were “cleansed” by the Gendarmerie, assisted by reserve soldiers, pre-military youth, and volunteers. The Romanian massacre of the Jews was disorganized and brutal, accompanied by rape and looting. Estimates show that between 150,000 and 160,000 Jews died in these territories during July–August 1941. A similar number were sent to camps and later to Transnistria.