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tili solomon

On Monday, 30th June 1941, the Jews who survived the pogrom of the previous day were forced to board cattle cars and were taken to Ialomita. Most of the bodies were unloaded and buried in mass graves in Podul Iloaiei and Targu Frumos. Few of them managed to stay alive: this is why they called them the death trains. My poor uncle never came back. My cousin asked me to light two candles for him; she is sure he ended up in the mass grave.
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I think my husband Aurel told me that he had been at the prefecture 'that Sunday.' Jews were being shot there. Aurel and some others were forced to wash the pavement with a hose. There were so many bodies in the courtyard that Sunday that the water flowed to the gutters on the street mixed with blood. On Monday morning two of my uncles who lived there went to their workplaces together. One of them was a watchmaker and had a workshop on Stefan Cel Mare Boulevard. When he got there and saw what was going on in the street, instead of opening the store he entered the courtyard, where some horrified relatives of his asked him, 'How did you get here? There's big trouble in Iasi.' The other one went further away. He was a clerk and worked for another Jew named Kratenstein who owned a small factory. He was supposed to get to I. C. Bratianu Street. Nobody knows whether he made it or not. But his wife and my cousin, who are now in Israel, claim that he was murdered on the street that Monday morning; he didn't get to the train.
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I remember my father and grandfather once worked for an employer who did business with walnuts. He bought them from peasants, his employees cracked them and dried the kernels, and he then exported them to I don't know where. It was a seasonal job, in fall usually. The employer's name was Herman Schneer. He died during the pogrom [in Iasi] [2] with one of his sons, and one of his sons- in-law. In our house, Schneer was thought to be a very clever man. He used to pay his employees on Saturday evenings. On one of those evenings my grandfather wasn't satisfied with what he got and refused the money, claiming he deserved more. The employer told him, 'Let me tell you something. You may not be satisfied, but take the money first, then negotiate.' These words were remembered in my family for a long time.
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Isac Tinichigiu

More than half of my former colleagues from Cultura died in that massacre in Iasi; I know of three of them that they emigrated, and one still lives in Bucharest now.
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During the Holocaust I was in Iasi. On 28th June 1941 there was a massacre, in which 11,000 Jews were killed [the pogrom actually took place on 29th and 30th June]. The number is still under debate, some claim there were only 4,500 – which they equal to 0. On the day before we had found out that in Abator, a Jewish neighborhood, several Jews were killed in their houses by Iron Guard [13] members and hooligans. The next day – it was Sunday morning – a sergeant, Zamcanu, came into our courtyard and yelled: ‘All Jews out of their houses!’ We were taken out in the street and forced to march with our hands up. We were mainly women and children. We walked like that for five kilometers, to the police station. My mother was sick and couldn’t hold her hands up; a policeman hit her with his rifle over the shoulders, so I went by her side and held her hand up.

In the police courtyard they started giving tickets to women and children, which said ‘free’ and had been stamped, and they announced that every Jew that didn’t have that ticket would be shot. I remember somebody started saying: ‘He’s a dirty gipsy; he’s not a Jew! What is he doing here among us?’, and pointed to my mother and me. The man knew me and started talking like this because he tried to save me from a very certain death. He succeeded. I never knew who he was. That was the great trick, because many men who had gone into cover early morning came of their free will, to get their ‘free’ tickets and they never came back: some were shot down in the police courtyard – about 500 men – and the rest were taken to the railway station, and forced to get on a train, 130–140 people in each wagon. The doors and windows were closed and nailed, so there was no air. After a day and a night they stopped to get rid of the dead and bury them in mass graves. This went on and on until the town of Roman, where something very unusual happened. A lady, the president of the Red Cross Committee, imposed her will of giving water to the prisoners on the leaders of the convoy. Then the train went on from Iasi to Calarasi, were the rest of the men were forced to work on different estates. The Jewish communities, which keep an exact record in their books of the Jews in the synagogues, estimate that there were 11,000 people killed.
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Robert Walter Rosner

Fani Cojocariu

Every year in Iasi they commemorate the Jews who were locked in airtight cattle cars [4] during the heat waves, and they were transported, and they had no water, and died there. And the Jewish Community in Dorohoi provided a bus for us, and I attended the commemoration myself together with my eldest sister. The second-born sister didn’t want to go, she said: “You go, I’m not going!” We did this for 2 years in a row, I believe – but many years have passed even since that happened.
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Rifca Segal

The things that happened in Dorohoi… The things that happened in Iasi… A lawyer from Iasi, Avram Riezel, a very handsome man, who was a second degree cousin of my parents’, was boarded on the death train [8]. He died in that train car, together with his wife, Sally. They had no children. He was born in Sulita, but he married in Iasi with a very beautiful woman, herself a lawyer, they were very well off, she was rich, and he was rich when he left Sulita. His parents owned sheep. And they also had land, I believe, but they didn’t till it themselves, they hired people to do that. And someone who survived the death train experience – a friend of this cousin of my parents, someone who moved to Bucharest afterwards, and we met him – he told us how, forgive me, they relieved themselves right there, on straw, they weren’t given any water, food, nothing at all. And when the train stopped in Targu Frumos, there was this lady, Garici, may God rest her soul, and she approached the train to give them water to drink. For the train car had small, barred windows. And they slapped her over her arm, and she had to leave, otherwise they would have shot her. There were gendarmes on guard duty. And there is Yad Vashem [9] in Israel – I was there –, and there is a road there, where they planted trees “Righteous among the nations.” And Mrs. Garici has her own tree planted there. She passed away. She has a daughter here, in Romania, I don’t know how old she is, who has cancer, I believe. And she was sent to Israel for treatment. Well, if they could save her… But still, her mother’s gesture was extraordinary.
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Iancu Tucarman

Betty lost her husband Marcu Madrisovici, and their three sons – Strul, Iancu, and Lupu – in the Iasi pogrom.
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Leizer Finchelstein

My wife lost her father during the pogrom. She doesn’t know where he is buried either.
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My father was on “the death trains” himself, then he was taken to the labor camps of Calarasi and Ialomita. Afterwards, he returned to Iasi. He was profoundly affected by everything that he and his family experienced, and, in general, by what the Jews living in Iasi experienced. He was very weakened when he returned and he always avoided talking about this period.
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The chaos at the Police precinct was indescribable. There were Romanian gendarmes and I think I even saw a few German soldiers wearing helmets with “SS” written on them who were delivering blows left and right with a baseball bat. Dead people were already lying in the courtyard of the Police Precinct, there was blood and scattered brains everywhere. It was for the first time in my life when I saw dead bodies. I was so terrified.

After being taken to the Police precinct on “that Sunday,” I was boarded on “the death trains.” I was 17 at the time. It is extremely difficult for me to talk about this. I think no film director will ever be able to depict the experiences on “the death trains.” To lie with the dead, covered with excrements. We made chairs and benches out of the dead. We stretched the dead bodies and sat on them, stepped on them. Later, on reading about Auschwitz and other concentration camps, I told myself: ‘By God, perhaps those people were more fortunate than us. At least they entered the gas chamber and were dead in a matter of minutes.’ We stayed inside these train cars which turned into gas chambers and people would die just like that, standing up. Now one, another one 10 minutes later, and so on. Nobody had any hope left of escaping with their lives. There were over 100 people in our train car, of which about 20 survived.

When I was among those who stepped off the train cars and were instructed to bury our dead, I still had no hope left of ever returning home. Anyone could kill you, nobody was accountable for their actions. One of my brothers, Leon, who was also on these trains, was taken to the hospital, as he slipped when he got off the train car and a portion of skin from his back was torn off. At first, we didn’t even notice that Leon was missing, that’s how exhausted and terrified we were.

We were lodged overnight in Jewish homes from Podu Iloaiei. The following day we were taken out in the field where the dead bodies were unloaded from the trains and we were forced to bury them. The smell was awful and it was so hot.
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The pogrom took place in June 1941. A few Christians lived in the Targu Cucului neighborhood as well, and, before the outbreak of the war, we got along relatively well with them. However, some 2-3 days before the pogrom, many of them left their homes and marked their houses with crosses. We didn’t understand at the time what was going on. On ‘that Sunday’ [29th June 1941], Jewish men were taken out of their houses by force and taken to the Police Precinct. We had heard that Jews would be issued some sort of residence permit by the authorities. As we didn’t hurry to get to the police precinct, on Sunday morning about 4 sergeants from the police station and a few civilians entered our house. We were threatened and taken out of the house. My mother and sisters were forced to get out of the house as well, but they were released immediately afterwards. They made father and us, the boys, walk towards the police precinct along Cuza Voda St. in single file and with our hands raised above our heads. Even if this happened 65 years ago, I cannot forget the horror on my mother’s face when they took us out of the house, but neither can I forget her joy when 6 out of 7 men returned home. She was the happiest of all mothers, it was the second miracle of Maglavit. [Editor’s note: a shepard named Petrache Lupu from Maglavit claimed to have seen God in 1935 and King Carol II of Romania decided to build a monastery there]. I lost a brother then, Iosel, and to this day I don’t know where he is buried. I would offer a reward even now to find out where he is. We attend the commemoration of the pogrom every year, when the Community offers us transportation starting with the Pacurari cemetery, then to the common burial grounds of Podu Iloaiei and Targu Frumos.
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Iosel Finchelstein was born around 1919. He worked as a carpenter in a workshop together with my father and was killed during the Iasi pogrom in the summer of 1941. He was only 22 at the time. I don’t know where he is buried, probably in one of the common burial grounds.
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Aunt Pesl had 2 sons as well, who were born handicapped, they were deaf and dumb, despite the fact they were very intelligent children and physically very sound. They were both killed during the pogrom.
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