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1941 Odessa massacre: Wikis


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Map of the Holocaust in Ukraine. Odessa ghetto marked with gold-red star. Transnistria massacres marked with red skulls.

The Odessa massacre was the extermination of Jews in Odessa and surrounding towns in Transnistria during the autumn of 1941 and the winter of 1942 in a series of massacres and killings during the Holocaust by Romanian forces, under German control, encouragement and instruction. Depending on the definition, it can either refer to the events of October 22 - October 24, 1941 in which between 25,000 and 34,000 Jews were shot or burned alive, or to the murder of well over 100,000 Ukrainian Jews in the town and the areas between Dniestr and Bug rivers, over the course of the Romanian and German occupation.


Before the massacre

Odessa had a large Jewish population of approximately 180,000, or 30% of the total, before the war. By the time that the Romanians had taken the city, between 80,000 and 90,000 Jews remained, the rest having fled or been evacuated by the Soviets. As the massacres occurred, Jews from surrounding villages would be concentrated in Odessa and Romanian concentration camps set up in surrounding areas.

On October 16, the Germans and the Romanians marched into Odessa following the Soviet evacuation. One week later, on October 22, a bomb detonated in the Romanian HQ, killing 67 people including the Romanian commander, 16 other Romanian officers, and 4 German naval officers.

Massacres of October 22-24

Blaming the Jews and the communists for the massacre, the Romanian troops begin the slaughter of 5,000 Jews in Odessa, on October 23, first shooting them in groups of 30-40 or hanging them.

In the afternoon, more than 25,000 Jews were assembled and taken out to the gates of Dalnik. When they reached the gates, 50 people were moved into the trenches and shot by Lieutenant-Colonel Nicolae Deleanu himself. The Romanians were concerned that the killing would take too long a time and moved the rest of the Jews (approximately 22,000) inside four large storage buildings in which they made holes for machine guns. The doors were closed and Lieutenant-Colonel Nicolae Deleanu ordered the soldiers to fire into the buildings. In order to make sure that nobody had survived, they set the buildings on fire at 17:00 hours. The next day grenades were thrown into one of the buildings. Other Jews were herded into the harbor square, sprinkled with gasoline, and set on fire. Over 22,000 corpses were found in mass graves after the war.

Around 35,000 – 40,000 of the Jews that remained were moved into the ghetto in the suburb of Slobodka where most of the buildings were destroyed, and left outdoors for ten days, between October 25 and November 3, and many Jews froze to death.[1][2]

Further massacres of the Jews of Odessa

On October 28, a new massacre was started when 4,000-5,000 Jews were herded into stables and shot. By the end of December an additional 50,000 Jews from the concentration camp at Bogdanovka had been killed. One month later, 10,000 were taken on a death march to the three concentration camps in Golta.

In January, the extermination was ended, by killing those who remained in Slobodka. From January 12-23, the last 19,582 Jews were transported in cattle wagons to Berezovka from where they were transported to the concentration camps in Golta. Eighteen months later almost everyone had died in Golta.

Defining the Odessa Holocaust

Although these facts are not doubted by historians[3] vs.;[4] some accounts differ (often greatly) in the numbers, partially due to different definitions of what constituted the Odessa massacres, as opposed to other acts of genocide in Transnistria carried out by the Romanians, Germans, and their allies.

The official report on the Romanian role in the Holocaust states that in the city of Odessa from October 18, 1941 until mid-March 1942, the Romanian military, aided by local authorities, murdered up to 25,000 Jews and deported over 35,000, most of whom were later killed. The report also details 50,000 Jews killed in Bogdanovka, and tens of thousands more in Golta and the surrounding areas. The Jewish Virtual Library cites figures of 34,000 Jews murdered during October 22-25, and the US Holocaust Museum concludes that "Romanian and German forces killed almost 100,000 Jews in Odessa during the occupation of the city." In other sources the number of people killed in Transnistria was 115,000 Jews and 15,000 Gipsys.[5]

The trial of war criminals

The trial of massacres perpetrated in occupied Odessa and nearby Dalnic on October 21-22, 1941 was the first trial at the Bucharest People’s Tribunal. Marshal Ion Antonescu, prime minister and dictator of Romania, Professor Gheorghe Alexianu, Governor of Transnistria, including Odessa (1941-1943), General Nicolae Macici, commander of the Second Corp of the Romanian Army located in Odessa, Professor Mihai Antonescu, vice-prime minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, and General Constantin Z. Vasiliu were found guilty of the massacres, and as war criminals were sentenced to death and executed on June 1, 1946, in Jilava prison.[6] Another twenty-eight members of the occupying Romanian forces received prison sentences, the harshest of which were for life and the lightest for one year behind bars.[7]

On 1 July 1945, King Michael I commuted Macici’s sentence to life imprisonment; Macici would eventually die in Aiud prison in 1950.

See also


  1. ^ (Romanian)Rotaru, J., Burcin, O., Zodian, V., Moise, L., Mareşalul Antonescu la Odessa, Editura Paideia, 1999
  2. ^ (Romanian)Giurescu, C., România în al doilea război mondial
  3. ^ Rozen M.: The Holocaust in Romania Under the Antonescu Government - Historical and Statistical Data About Jews in Romania, 1940-1944, p.21-24.[1]
  4. ^ (Romanian)Solomovici, Teşu, Istoria Holocaustului din România, ed. Teşu, Bucureşti, p. 45-46
  5. ^ Gyemant Ladislau: The Romanian Jewry - Historical Destiny, Tolerance, Integration, Marginalisation [2]
  6. ^ The Execution of war criminals
  7. ^ (Romanian)The Official Repport:Arhivele Statului, Bucureşti, Mai 1946

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