Testimony: Iona and Gheorghe, born in 1928 and 1924 respectively in the village of Budesti – “There were cases of Jews being hidden by Romanians. For example, Solomon Marcovic, who was a butcher before the war, was hidden by a Romanian, along with his whole family. He hid for a few days in a haystack before moving to an abandoned mine because it was too dangerous. They stayed hidden there until the end of the war.”
Basic Info: A Yahad research team led by Father Patrick Desbois and Roma Project Manager Costel Nastasie carried out a field investigation in the northwest zone of the region of Transylvania, near the borders with Ukraine and Hungary. The team was able to interview several people with information on the Dej ghetto, where 7800 Jews were imprisoned. They were forced to live in horrific conditions, many perished in the ghetto, but the majority were deported to Auschwitz to be exterminated.
During the field investigation the Yahad team interviewed 42 witnesses, located one mass grave and several locations of interest, such as ghettos, camps, synagogues and local schools.
Places: Iapa, Călineşti, Copalnic, Lăpuș, Cernești, Budești, Baia Sprie, Mireșu Mare, Vișeu de Jos, Rona de Sus, Cășeiu, Nima, Nușeni, Braniștea, Câțcău, Bizuşa-Băi, Vima Mare, Bunești, Maia, Șintereag, Chiuza, Tăure, Hida, Așchileu Mare, Dej, Borșa.
– Pre-war Jewish life:
The region’s Jews were known to be skilled-workers in several different trades (shoemakers, tailors, doctors, lawyers), however many were known to work in the logging industry. During the first years of the war, in the towns, the Jews were victims of a series of anti-Jewish laws. However, this was not the case in the villages, until they were forced to wear a yellow star in 1944. This was decreed by the town hall, each Jewish family received a letter informing them of their obligation to wear a yellow star.
– How were the Jews deported?
The Jews were arrested by Hungarian soldiers, accompanied by the mayor and other civil servants. The villagers were requisitioned with their carts to take the Jews first to the ghetto, to camps, to synagogues or even to local schools (just so there was time to round up all the Jews), before being loaded into cattle wagons.