Return to Transnistria

Our journey to Ukraine and Moldova goes on. The wish of my friend Sylvia to visit Bessarabia gave me a good pretext to return to Chişinău (Kishinev). While our friends Marla and Jay returned to Lviv yesterday, Sylvia and I took the bus to the Moldovan capital. Today we were out for a long day trip to Transnistria, a break-away ‘state’, only aknowledged by Russia. We visited Dubăsari (Dubasari), Raşcov (Rashkov) and Rîbniţa (Rybnitsa).

We were very glad that Irina Shikhova – the head of Chişinău’s Jewish museum – recommended a knowlegable and nice driver. Igor is a Baptist priest, who has a passion for Jewish heritage, and turned out to be an ideal companion.

We left Chişinău and just after 25 kilometers we passed a control point of the Russian army, a few kilometers later we entered Transnistria. ‘Two boys were shot here last year, when they were on their way back home with their bicycles’ told Igor.

Our first stop was at Dubăsari, a town that is known for its mass murder site. 18.000 Jews were shot in September 1941 after the Romanian army invaded the area. The victims were taken from Dubăsari ghetto or had to march for hundreds of kilometers to this final destination. Plaques commemorate family names and the numbers of family members who were shot.

Our route leads us further north to Raşcov, a small town at the banks of river Dniester – once a flourishing Hasidic community. I have been here before during the trip with my friends Achim and Petra in March. At that time our aim was to visit the local synagogue; we didn’t know anything about an existing cemetery. Visiting the cemetery now fills a gap. For an hour Sylvia an I creeped through the bushes to take pictures. It was a real hot day and we were exhausted after a while – but experiencing this magic garden was worth coming here.

We had a short stop at the impressing synagogue and then went on to Rîbniţa to see the Jewish cemetery.

‘This was an intense day’ said Sylvia after our return to Chişinău. Indeed, also this day needs time to be processed.

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