journal was written by Father Grigore Dancus, a Greek Catholic
parish priest in Botiza, a village near Sighet. His son, Mihai
Dancus, the historian who worked to set up the Wiesel museum,
said the bishop had instructed all his priests to keep journals
of their parish. It was acquired by FRONTLINE/World on
a recent trip to Sighet.
weeks before this date there was an order from above for every
Jew older than 7 years to wear on his chest on the left a yellow
star made of cloth. A few days after that in the Jewish Community
began an unrest. And the disquiet was increasing day by day,
passing to panic the week before Easter. Nobody knew what would
happen, and they were expecting some kind of event.
On Easter Day, the 16th day of April 1944 at 6:30 in the morning,
into the village came a patrol of policemen. This was followed
by a gathering with the authorities and the commune [of Sighet].
After that, about 8:30, they gave the news with a drumbeat that
no Jew is allowed to leave his home for three days.
Immediately after this were formed two commissions of police
and civil authorities. They went from house to house evacuating
every Jew and sealing their homes. Their fortune, furniture,
cows, all of it was given to be used and cared for by the Christians.
The whole thing took three days, 'til the third day of Easter.
All of the Jews were boarded at the Synagogue, and they could
take with them only linens, bedsheets, two pair of undergarments
and food for fourteen days.
On the third day of Easter the deportation began from the village
of Dragomiresti, where the ghetto had been formed of Jews from
the [River] Isa [region]. They were embarked on cars which were
obliged to transport them freely without being paid. This is
how they left the town, all the Jews to an unknown destination.
Today, the 22d of May 1944, as I write these lines all the Jews
already are gone from Dragomiresti, and nobody knows where they'll
stop. They were transported from Dragomiresti to the Viseul
de Jos train station with carts and on foot. As this happened,
some of them died walking and some of them, because they resisted
leaving, were shot. At the Viseul de Jos train station, special
German railroad cars were waiting for them, which did not have windows
except a single opening in the ceiling for air. In these cars
they were loaded, and then the cars were closed and sealed.
From here they went to Sighet, and up to now, no one knows anything
about what happened to them.
was great sorrow during all this time. No Christian was glad
for the Jews' fate, on the contrary they sympathized with them
very much. The Christian compassion was revealed with that occasion.
Even if it was the holiday of Lord's resurrection whom the Jews
persecuted till the death on the cross, a fact that the Christians
are aware of anyway, immediately after the beginning of the
boarding at the Synagogue, the Christians never stopped bringing
them at the Synagogue all kinds of food. And they did this not
just as long as the Jews stayed here in the village but even
after they were transported to Dragomiresti. Even there, the
women went almost daily and brought them food. They received
food from the priest's family too. The only one who rejoiced
at this event was and is the secretary Bodnar, a genuine Hungarian,
a reformed (religion), originally from Hungary. Maybe other
people have exulted but they haven't showed it openly.
all the fortunes left from the Jews are under the administration
of a committee, whose president for now is Mr. Maros Vasile, secretary
pensioner originally from Ieud. The cattle were already sold,
at an auction, and so were the poultry. The auction was fake
because all there was left was split among the professionals.
The land also is given to use to the local Christians, but of
course the professionals took what was the best first.
There were some disagreements among professionals. They couldn't
split it well. Better to say it wasn't enough [for them] because
they were too previously starved. I was offered to take from
all of them but I refused, judging that was not for me, it's
not suited with the priesthood and the proud feeling of the
Romanian, those dubious land reforms. I was very insistently
invited to be part of the sharing of the sheep, which were brought
from Poieni. I refused again. I was then provoked by the Hungarian
teacher Molnar Istvan, Hungarian who came here too, in the following
way: I was at the city hall; there I was consistently pestered
to be part of the sheep sharing, but I refused saying that I
have enough and I don't need them (although in reality I didn't
have any, I was receiving some cheese and wool from my father-in-law
Iurka George, priest in Harnicesti). To
this the respective teacher said (in Hungarian), "There's no
way that the priest can be part of something with us." I stayed
in my place as a passive spectator. The result was that they
didn't share the sheep but they sent them to Poieni so that
the mayor there would do whatever he wanted with them. (He shared
them among the residents.) Why didn't the owners here take the
sheep? Because none of them knew what to do with them. They
would have given them to me so I would take care of them all,
so that they can only take the cheese and wool.
Look what has become of the Jews' fortune: an occasion of quarrel
Translation provided by Cristina Iacob.