Odessa Ghetto


Before the Second World War Odessa belonged to the Soviet Union and there were about 180,000 Jews living in the city. Only New York and Warsaw had a larger proportion of Jewish residents. On October 16, 1941, the city was occupied by German and romanian forces, but by then about half of the Jewish residents had fled. Only women, children and older men were left because the men served in the Red Army. Odessa became the capital of the part of Romania called Transnistria. On October 22, a bomb exploded in Romanian headquarters, killing, among other things, the Romanian military leader in Odessa, general Ion Glojeanu. A total of 67 people died in the attack, including four German naval officers. Responsible for the attack was a group of NKVD men who lingered in the city and mined the headquarters which had previously been the NKVD’s headquarters. The blame for the attack was given to the Jews and revenge did not wait for them. 5000 Jews were arrested in raids and murdered in different ways around Odessa. About 20,000 were deported to Dalnik outside Odessa where they were murdered.

After these massacres, parts of the remaining Jewish population of Odessa were deported to Bogdanovka, Akhmetchetka and Domanevka in the Golta district about 150 kilometres north of Odessa. For the remaining approximately 35,000 Jews, two ghettos were established in December 1941 on the outskirts of Odessa, one in the Slobodka district and one in Dalnik. The ghettos were extremely primitive and the Jews were left for a week without any accommodation. Thousands died as a result of cold and hunger. In June 1942 most of the jews were deported to Berezovka and then on to other ghettos. The ghetto in Odessa differed from other ghettos in occupied Eastern Europe in that there were no factories in which the inhabitants were forced to work. Neither was the ghetto surrounded by fences and no Jewish council was established. For the Romanians, the ghettos were a repository and not a place whose inhabitants were used as labour. Odessa was liberated by the Soviet Red army in April 1944, when there were hardly any Jews left in Odessa.

Current status: Partly preserved/demolished with tablets/monuments (2009).

Location: 46°28'18.98"N 30°43'25.57"E (memorial park).

Get there: Bus or tram.

My comment:

At a current Cadet school, the Romanians had set up a prison where Jews were murdered. There is a small modest memorial plaque on the wall at the entrance to honor those who were murdered. At the entrance to a factory, there is another similar memorial plaque dedicated to those who were deported from there during the existence of the ghetto. The factory then served as a gathering place for Jews to be deported. Some buildings remain, such as a school for Jewish children in the ghetto and a hospital for ghetto residents. There are additional monuments outside the ghetto at the assembly point from where the Jews were deported to Berezovka.

Follow up in books: Arad, Yitzhak: Holocaust in the Soviet union (2009).