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Memories of the Holocaust: Kishinev (Chisinau) - Measures to Preserve the Valuables Remaining as the Property of the State

In this chapter we refer to the valuables, both buildings and movable goods, which existed in the territory of Bessarabia and were previously owned by Jews or by legal Jewish entities. Their transfer to the property of the State was legalized and established by Law Nr.2507 of September 3, 1941.

Before that date there was no legal basis established for their disposition.

The ongoing military operations, the need to insure the rear of the front, the tactic and often administrative measures taken by the Major General Staff, which partly constrained the administrative authority, have certainly prevented at the beginning the establishment of a well managed operation.

Nevertheless, the Administration of Bessarabia took a series of measures aimed at protecting State property. In particular, on July 29, 1941, order No.146 was given, to the Prefectures and Town Halls, for the inventory of the urban Jewish properties and valuables. On August 2, 1941, it was followed up by another order No.307 for the same purpose. On September 4, 1941, concurrent with the appearance of Law Nr.2507, instructions were given with Nr.386 on the manner of administration and utilization of the real estate legally passing to the property of the State. In addition, an ordinance was promulgated, based on the Legal Decree Nr.161 of July 10, 1941, requiring all inhabitants to surrender, within 48 hours, all objects which did not belong to them or which were stolen.

On the situation of the valuables in Chisinau, and this to the degree that it concerned our ordered mission, we have found the following:

A. The Government gave the orders mentioned above but did decide on the implementation measures. The lack of personnel and resources for this purpose was the main impediment to doing anything.

B. Initially, no measures were taken for stopping the breaking into the residences and the destruction or stealing of furniture.

All these abuses could have been prevented, if the sealing of houses without owners or the intensification of street patrols would have been possible.

C. Lack of uniformity in the administration of the valuables were tolerated, thus: Market Management did the initial distribution of the houses; only in August was this function passed to the Town Hall; also the Recruitment Center obtained and transported many materials.

D. There was no follow up to the judicial suggestions of the executive bodies aimed at creating an inventory and a valuation of the buildings. Thus, the Chief of Town Hall Inventory Service, Voinea Potcova, submitted on September 26, 1941, report Nr.585 to the Director of Romanization of the Government in which a number of concrete proposals were made, aimed at guaranteeing and evaluating the State property and referring to:  

  1. The need of establishing a card and a special file for each real estate property.
  2. The need of evaluating the real estate property and furniture, by a special commission with the right of appeal to a superior body.
  3. The need to repair properties to avoid their deterioration and to make them productive.
  4. The need of distributing the properties by sectors and the drawing up of regulations which will develop established norms for the administration of the State properties.

E. There were successively established too many commissions of evaluation and inventory. The first was the one appointed by the Town Hall, followed by another appointed by the Government, lead by Int. Cpt., and finally, in November, four commissions were established presided by magistrates, facts which gave rise to the situation that today, six months after the occupation of Chisinau, it is not known precisely which are the buildings and other property belonging to the State in this Municipality.

F. Starting from September 4, 1941, when Law Nr.2506 appeared, which left the plenipotentiary administration of Bessarabia in the hands of the Governor, under the sole supervision of the State Leader[16], this power was not used for the establishment of the needed line of authority.

An example: On October 17, 1941, the Government Directorate of Romanization, asked the Military Commander of Chisinau for approval of the removal from the Ghetto of some furniture to be collected in its stores. The answer by the Commander was a denial, Nr.3354 of October 18, 1941, until all deportations will be completed. We conclude from this example that the Government, although an organ with full actual authority, nevertheless accepted in this case to be subordinate to the Military Commander of the city of Chisinau.

G. The approximate situation of the real estate within the Municipality of Chisinau which became the property of the State was:  

  • 1,906 buildings in liveable condition
  • 359 " destroyed
  • 70 " in a bad condition

In these buildings there were:  

  • 6,523 liveable apartments
  • 323 uninhabitable apartments

The importance which we give to this chapter is justified by the conclusion that the real estate property left by the Jews was from the beginning the object of a whole series of thefts.

As documentation, we refer to the statement by Colonel Tudose, who literally emphasized that:

"In the first eight days, there was in the city no German police unit. Because of this, German military units, organized or not, or isolated in groups, committed acts of force, seizing and transporting all that was the best and most valuable from stores, abandoned or inhabited houses, engaging in conflicts and overcoming the Romanian military guards with the authority and right of a conqueror. These acts were repeatedly brought to the knowledge of the Army, the Governor and the Marshal. The search and appropriation of valuables, which were considered to be hidden in houses, furniture, sofas and floors, were the attraction of all, to which were also associated, by invitation, isolated Romanians. The contents of stores and materials from factories were in the majority of cases appropriated by German units. Wherever a Romanian guard was posted, after a short time German motorized units would appear, would move the Romanian guard away and, during the time that the guard would use for reporting, would load and leave.

Simultaneously with the initial situation of turbulence and lack of security, vagabonds of the periphery, unemployed people and mostly inhabitants of suburbs or nearby villages, roamed the streets, entered houses, committed acts of violence and stole all that they could find."

The witness Voina Potcova, also indicated in his declaration that the slums were full with stolen furniture.

In conclusion: There was, from the very beginning, no precise plan of the procedure which should be followed to insure the wealth that was reverting to the State.

In particular, at the beginning there was interference by the military authorities in this matter, which prevented the work of legitimate organs.

Even now, the operation of statistics and evaluation is not yet clarified.

Translator's Notes:

16. "Conducatorul Statului", i.e. the "State Leader", or "Fuhrer" was the title used for Romania's fascist war dictator, Marshal Ion Antonescu.

Memories of The Holocaust: Kishinev (Chisinau) 1941-1944