Tuesday, November 22, 2022

I stumbled upon this JTA story from 1944:


I wanted to learn more about this, but couldn't find anything online about "Staroshentzi" or the people named here.

So I crowdsourced the research on Twitter.

I was pointed by Aviva Hadara to the town of Storozhynets, Ukraine, sometimes spelled Storozhynets' [Ukr], Storozhinets [Rus], Storojineţ [Rom], Storojinet [Ger], Shtrozshnitz [Yid], Stordjinet [Yid], Storojineti [Hun], Storozynetz, Strizinitz, Strozynetz, or Sorojinet.

Then SD Homnick pointed me to another person who saved Jews from Storozhynets, also an agronomist, so chances are he was the real hero. 

From "Solidarity and Rescue in Romania" written by the Elie Wiesel Commission:

Attempts to save Transnistria deportees were severely punished by the regime; therefore, rescue efforts—and they were not few—deserve great respect. Unfortunately, no systematic research has been done on this topic. However, several individual cases are highly relevant. .... Serban Flondor, a doctor of agronomics and renowned specialist in heraldry and geneology and son of Iancu Flondor (who played an important role in uniting Bukovina with Romania), supplied the Jews in the Storojinet camp with food. Additionally, with the assistance of railway managers, he sent Jews to Bucharest by locking them in unoccupied sleeping car compartments. While serving as councilor for the Chamber of Agriculture, he used his train car to take Jews from Bukovina to Bucharest, where they could hide more easily.
This website calls him the "Schindler from Bucovina:"
Serban Flondor, center

Agronomist engineer, deputy in the interwar Romanian Parliament, a well-known genealogist and mayor of his hometown, Storojinet, Serban Flondor was truly a character-hero, of a refinement and intelligence that all the Bucharest aristocrats of the interwar period and who would measure his own humanity in terrible times.

A few years after this photograph, Serban Flondor would fight to save the lives of dear Jewish friends, simple acquaintances or people he had never seen: Rubi Klein (whom he hid in the house in the yard of which the photograph was taken, at Storojinet), students Zalman Leon, Elias Corneliu or Iancu Moscovici from "Cultura" and "Ciocanul" high schools (he got involved and obtained their pardon), whole families from a death train heading towards Transnistria and which he managed to stop en route.

The chief rabbi of Storojinet, Benzion Katz, knew the exceptional merits of Serban Flondor and, years later, gave him a distinction from the heart, a gold plaque on which a wish for long life was engraved in Hebrew. The count from Bucovina wore this gold plate until his death (1971), saying that this is the only treasure he would like to take with him.

Sam Gold found the original report from the Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee in Russian, where JTA got the story from. Not sure about the accuracy but it adds details not in the original story:

Before the war, more than three hundred Jewish families lived in Starozhenets, Chernivtsi region: they were mostly craftsmen, workers and employees of local enterprises. Having captured the city, the German-Romanian fascists began to deport Jews to Transnistria, where special ghettos were created.

In the third week of their rule, the invaders issued an order ordering the entire Jewish population to appear at Vokzalnaya Square at a certain time, taking only the most necessary with them. Death was threatened for violating the order.

By this time, many refugees from Germany, Czechoslovakia, Austria and other places had accumulated in Bukovina. They knew what these "special ghettos" meant. The Bukovinian Jews also knew about this, but there was no way out. The Romanian “siguranza” (okhrana), under the leadership of Gestapo instructors, cordoned off the Jewish quarters and expelled all Jewish residents from their apartments. All the janitors were called to the Gestapo. They were warned that if a hiding Jew was found in any house, the janitor would be shot along with him.

Jews filled Vokzalnaya Square. For three weeks they were kept here in the open air, waiting for the train. One and a half thousand souls - women with babies, old people, children were lying on the damp earth. Many of the cold, dampness and hunger died right there on the square. Some managed to escape and went into the forest.

The forest watchman Stepan Burlecu and his two daughters-in-law, who lived near the railway station, with the assistance of the agronomist Paskaranu, rescued a large group of Jews. They hid them for some time in the forest and finally, dressing them in peasant clothes, they sent them to work - in the forest, in the field.

Burleca and Pascarana rescued music teacher Hecht with his wife and child; tailor Gaiser with his wife and two daughters; soap factory master Gottlieb with a young daughter (his wife died on Vokzalnaya Square); engineer Behler, whose wife was shot for trying to escape from Vokzalnaya Square; Finder's teacher and his two boys, tannery and soap factory workers Solomon Neumann, David Rubinger, Moses Rosner, Yakov Singer and Ariel Kurtzman.

In addition to all these, some Jewish families survived, who dared, despite the threat of the death penalty, not to appear on Vokzalnaya Square and hid with their Moldavian neighbors.

Janitors Geku Lupescu, Nicolai Peranu and Jan Bruzha rescued the lawyer Bislinger and his family, the director of the real school Dr. Welt, the pharmacist Ribaizen and the accountant of the city bank Kantarovich.

The town was still the site of horrific massacres. Even though some Jews were saved, compared to the entire population, it was still a tiny percentage.






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