Brăviceni | Orhei

YIU’s witness, born in 1930: “When the gendarmes started to round up the Jews, many Moldovans tried to hide some of them, but they were denounced by their neighbors. ©Aleksey Kasyanov/Yahad - In Unum YIU’s team investigated in the village twice: in May 2012 and in April 2018. ©Aleksey Kasyanov/Yahad - In Unum / YIU’s witness, born in 1930: “It took several days to assemble and shoot all the Jews because it took time to bring the Jews from other villages here. I saw the shooting with my own eyes. They were shot by local gendarmes.” ©Aleksey Kasyanov/Yahad In Unum Feodosi C., born in 1932:  “When local Jews left, a Jewish family arrived here from Orhei. There were six of them. Their cart was stopped, and the Jews were caught and shot by the chief of the local gendarmerie.” © Emmanuelle Faussat/Yahad - In Unum YIU’s witness, born in 1930, took the team to the execution site of the Jews: “Men, women and children were shot and buried here. Some of the little Jewish children were thrown alive into to the mass grave.” © Aleksey Kasyanov/Yahad - In Unum Feodosi C., born in 1932, took the YIU team to the execution site of a Jewish family from Orhei. It turned out to be the same place as the execution site shown to the team by a witness interviewed several years ago.© Emmanuelle Foussat/Yahad - In Unum Mass grave of about 30 Jews from Brăviceni and surrounding villages, killed by Romanian gendarmes on the outskirts of Brăviceni in July 1941. Today it is on the territory of a former kolkhoze. © Aleksey Kasyanov/Yahad - In Unum The territory of a former kolkhoze on the outskirts of Brăviceni, where Jewish victims killed in two shootings were buried after their execution. © Emmanuelle Foussat/Yahad - In Unum YIU’s witness, born in 1930: “One Jewish woman tried to flee. She was chased and shot with a machine gun by the chief of the gendarmerie. She was buried a little further away from the other victims.” © Aleksey Kasyanov/Yahad - In Unum The site of the grave of a Jewish woman on the outskirts of Brăviceni. © Aleksey Kasyanov/Yahad - In Unum

Execution of Jews in Brăviceni

2 Execution site(s)

Kind of place before:
By the road (1); Clearing outside the village (2)
Period of occupation:
Number of victims:
At least 30

Witness interview

Feodosi C., born in 1932: “A Jewish family from Orhei, two men, two women and two young children, including a 12-13 year-old girl, were killed in Brăviceni by the chief of the post office, a Romanian gendarme named NIATSE. A Moldovan man who worked for the gendarmes stopped the cart with the Jews at the entrance to the village. He wore a Romanian uniform and carried a pistol. The Jews were arrested and shot one by one by the chief of the gendarmerie post office. At the end of the shooting, the gendarme delivered the coup de grâce to the victims. The bodies were buried on site in the ditch by the villagers on their own initiative. I saw the shooting from about twenty meters.”(Witness N°250, interviewed in Brăviceni, on April 17, 2018)

Historical note

Brăviceni is a village in Orhei District in central Moldova. It is located about 18km from Orhei, home to a very important Jewish community before the outbreak of the Second World War. There were 19,211 Jews living in the District and half of them lived in the town of Orhei, comprising more than 40% of the town’s total population. The Jews from Orhei were merchants, shop owners, businessmen, artisans, craftsmen and doctors, some of them were also farmers, viniculturists and factory owners. The Jewish community from Orhei had several synagogues, houses of prayer, cheders, many cultural, educational and welfare institutions, as well as a Jewish cemetery.

Several different nationalities lived in Brăviceni before the war: Moldovans, Jews, sedentary Gypsies, Bulgarians and Poles. Not much is known about the Jewish community of Brăviceni. According to YIU’s witness born in 1930, the Jews from Brăviceni were mainly merchants. They owned several shops in the village. The witness recalled that some of the local Jews managed to evacuate to Orhei before the arrival of German-Romanian troops.

Holocaust by bullets in figures

After a brief occupation by the Soviet Union that started in 1940, the Orhei region was occupied by German-Romanian forces on July 8-10, 1941. The same month, the occupying troops arrived in Brăviceni. According to YIU’s witness, they directly took over power. They created a gendarmerie post office and ordered the extermination of all the Jews from Brăviceni and the surrounding area. The round-up of the Jews lasted several days. YIU’s witness remembered that some of the non-Jewish inhabitants of the village tried to help and hide the Jews but they were denounced by their neighbors. The Jews from Brăviceni and nearby villages, about 30 people, were gathered on the outskirts of the village. The shooting was supervised by the chief of the gendarmerie. The local mayor was also present. The gendarmes were ordered to dig a mass grave for the victims. The Jews were shot by the gendarmes and thrown into the pit. According to YIU’s witness, although the mass grave was 4-5 meters long, it was too small for the bodies of all the victims. As a result, the gendarmes, after having piled all the cadavers in the pit, were unable to fill the pit in. They left the pit uncovered and the victim’s bodies were eaten by dogs and birds. Today, the mass grave is on the territory of a former kolkhoze.

According to YIU’s witness, one Jewish woman tried to escape the shooting, but she was caught by the chief of the local gendarmerie and shot. Her body was buried in an individual grave.

Feodosi C., born in 1932, recalled another shooting of a Jewish family from Orhei perpetrated at the same execution site. Two men, two women and two children were caught at the entrance of the village by a man wearing a Romanian uniform. They were killed by the chief of the gendarmerie and buried in a mass grave near the road on the outskirts of the village, where the previous shooting had been perpetrated. The mass graves of the victims of both shootings remain without memorial.

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