The documentary theatre performance Clear History, directed by Nicoleta Esinencu , starring Veaceslav Sambriş, Doriana Talmazan, Irina Vacarciuc and produced by Teatru-Spălătorie (Theatre-Washroom) brings into the public sphere a theme willfully ignored both by the authorities and the media from the Republic of Moldova, namely the contribution of the Romanian administration and army to the ghettoization, deportation and extermination of the Jewish population from Bessarabia, Bukovina, Trans-dniestr (Priednistrovia) and Odessa during 1941-1944, when these territories were under Romanian administration or occupation. The current coalition government in the Republic of Moldova has adopted a radical pro-Romanian, pro-Western stance as its pseudo-political project and promotes a discourse which is viciously anti-Communist, anti-Soviet and Russophobic. In this context, the Romanian Holocaust risks “tainting” the image of the Romanian administration in Bessarabia and destroys the image of Marshall Ion Antonescu as a “national hero” and a “fighter for nation-building”, not to mention it represents a serious “competitor” to the crimes of the GULAG (the preferred weapon of choice against the imagined Communist danger and, more concretely, against the welfare state). Considering the glorification of Ion Antonescu in the Republic of Moldova and the absence of the Holocaust from most schoolbooks in the country, Clear History raises the issue of the history of the victims and witnesses whose voices are silenced by the official discourse. (David Schwartz)
Fragment from the interview with director Nicoleta Esinencu
How do you position yourself in relation to the Holocaust in Bessarabia and why was it important for you to tackle this theme?
It seemed important to me because I never learned about it in school and I found out about the Holocaust in Bessarabia much too late. I also don’t want to see this part of our history erased, like our parents and grandparents did. Many of them witnessed and maybe even took part in these massacres, and they concealed this for tens of years or even tried to erase these crimes from their memory. Also because a people cannot acknowledge only the historical events which suit it better and simply position itself as a victim. It’s important to acknowledge history as it is. And also because it would be much more honest to admit it. (Interview done by Mihaela Michailov)
“They started to cordon off the whole of Vertiujeni.
They cordoned off the entire centre with barbed wire. And when we got up one morning, it was filled with Jews: children, old folks, youngsters, it was full of them. There were so many. Could have been around 10-20 thousand of them.
They were all huddled here. Don’t know where from.
Then came summer… I think it was around June or so, because there was fruit around, the potatoes were fresh, and mom would put stuff in a bag and we’d come here on this little street next to the hospital and we’d throw the stuff over the barbed wire, where there were kids sticking their hands out to anyone passing by. ‘Spare a piece of bread! Spare a piece of bread!’, they’d cry. And mom would give us polenta and whatever else she had and we’d go and throw it over for those kids. Then we had to run and hide, ’cause they beat us. There were gendarmes guarding the place and they beat us. They wouldn’t let us near.”
“I was 11 when it passed by.
The line’s coming! It came from Edintsy and it passed through here. Went towards Târnova.
This guy in the line was a Romanian officer… he went to the mayor’s office and asked the local policeman if they could spend the night here, since they were too tired to carry on. And he allowed it. They were settled on the other side of the village. And the line came through the village and slept there. In the morning they got up. They collected shovels from the villagers and made the Jews dig holes. And they dug a big hole.
The gendarmes brought them all there. Took out their teeth first, ’cause they had gold teeth. Took off their clothes and made them go into the hole. Then they started shoveling the earth back over them. They were struggling in there, buried alive.
They killed some 300.
And us kids were sitting and watching.