From Chişinău to Bălţi via Transnistria

On 2 March our little group continued the road trip through the Republic of Moldova. We headed east, crossed the Russian checkpoint near Dubăsari, and entered the internationally not recognized break away “republic” of Transnistria – rarely visited by western travelers. On our itinerary were Dubăsari and Raşcov before we crossed the “border” again to see the Jewish cemetery of Vadul Raşcov.

I was lazy with writing blog posts during the recent trip through Ukraine and Moldova. Travel days were long and often Marla, Jay, Vasyl, Iryna, Anna and I talked until late in the evening. During the next days I will catch up to report on our experiences.

On 2 March we left Chişinău and reached the mass killing site and memorial in Dubăsari. Thousands of Jews had been murdered here by SS-Einsatzgruppe D. Just recently a new memorial had been added to the site – straight opposite of the Soviet sculpture. A new layer to the interpretation of the past.

I had been before to Dubăsari with dear friend Sylvia de Swaan in August 2016. What I did not know at that time was, that there is also a former synagogue in town – now an apartment building – and a magnificent cemetery. We took the opportunity to visit both sites.

One can not visit Transnistria without having a stop in Raşcov. Once it was the location of a Hasidic court, of which big parts are preserved – the imposing synagogue, the Rabbi’s Kloyz and a beit midrash. Additionally there are two cemeteries – an old and a new one. Thanks to Irina Shikhova we were able to find to old cemetery just behind the Greek-Catholic church. The view over river Dniester from there is breathtaking. While the old cemetery looks well maintained, the new cemetery is hidden in the bushes and would not be accessible after the vegetation sprouts in spring.

Raşcov on the eastern and Vadul Raşcov on the western bank of river Dniester were once connected by a ferry. Now it takes a long detour to reach Vadul Raşcov by crossing the “border” between Transnistria and Moldova at Rîbniţa. Vadul Raşcov makes me alway happy. It is one of the most sublime place I know. We reached the Jewish cemetery late in the afternoon, the sun was already setting. Despite the cruel history and the extermination of Vadul Raşcov’s Jews, the place has something peaceful. We watched the wandering shadows and I guess all fellow travelers took a lasting impression with them and kept it in their hearts.

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3 thoughts on “From Chişinău to Bălţi via Transnistria

  1. As always it is hard and overwhelming to view your findings & photographs ,without becoming emotionally involved into a tragedy of unbound enormity. It is with gratitude that I and many more view fact & evidence of a truly vanished world. Thank you all involved…

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