Trustworthy American informants recently repatriated from Rumania, today told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency of savage pogroms carried out by Rumanian troops under German direction in the reconquered provinces of Bukovina and Bessarabia, which cost the lives of untold thousands of men, women and children.
No accurate figures are available on the total number of victims of this Nazi orgy of hate, but information received by United States officials in Bucharest disclosed that in the vicinity of Kishinev alone, 60,000 Jews were massacred. Only 9,000 Jews remained alive in this area after the Nazi-commanded firing squads had finished their work.
There was no doubt, these American informants declared, that the Germans were determined to exterminate the Jewish population of Europe but wanted to do it in such a way that they would not bear the odium for the carnage. Thus, during the massacres in Bukovina and Bessarabia, storm-troopers or Rumanian troops commanded by Germans did the actual slaying, but the Nazis produced a huge amount of photographic “evidence” showing only Rumanian soldiers and gendarmes doing the actual killing and torturing of Jewish victims. In many instances, Nazi propaganda units staged scenes showing Rumanian soldiers performing deeds of especial cruelty.
JEWS SOLD TO PEASANTS WHO KILL THEM TO GET THEIR CLOTHES
One American observer said he personally knew Rumanian officers who returned home nervous wrecks haunted by the scenes of agony for which they had been responsible, afraid to go to sleep lest the sight of their victims return to them in their nightmares. He quoted a Rumanian soldier who had been a guard in a convoy transporting Jews through Bessarabia to Transnistria (the territory neighboring Odessa which Rumania has formally annexed) as authority for one of the most shocking episodes in the bloody carnage.
Rumanian peasants, he quoted this soldier as saying, lined the route the convoy followed and traded with the soldiers for their Jewish prisoners. Sometimes they paid as much as 2,000 to 3,000 lei for a Jew. After the deal would be closed, this informant reported, the unlucky Jew would be stripped of his clothing and then put to death after being subjected to the most appalling torture. Out of the one convoy alone, according to this soldier’s evidence, 3,000 Jews were sold to their deaths. When the convoy reached its destination, the guards explained the discrepancy in the number of prisoners they were supposed to deliver by stating that the missing three hundred had either died of exhaustion or been killed “trying to escape.”
The Archive of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency includes articles published from 1923 to 2008. Archive stories reflect the journalistic standards and practices of the time they were published.