The Bolshevik Revolution that took place in Russia in 1917 under the leadership of Vladimir Lenin began one of the darkest and most murderous periods in world history. Throughout the decades of communist rule, millions of people were murdered and tortured - and a huge mass grave recently discovered in the Transnistria region of Moldova reveals some of the horrors.
The ravine of the mass killing was found following work done in an old military base near Tiraspol, the capital of the district, following the war in Ukraine. During the work, large amounts of evidence began to be discovered, as the grave was found to be filled with thousands of bodies of people who were killed there between 1917-1930 under the rule of the dictators Lenin and Stalin. Most of the dead are Jews who were accused of opposing the communist regime.
Documents were also found at the site documenting the names and details of those killed in each of the mass graves and the crime for which they were sentenced to death. Most of those killed were shot. The documents also describe the lives of the Jews under communist rule, the Jewish schools that were active underground, the effort they made to contact Jewish organizations in the world, and the local organizations which carried out Jewish activities in hiding.
For example, it appears that one of the murdered served as a teacher in a Jewish school; another name appears to have been in contact with elements in Israel; and so on. Among the dead were men, women, and children.
In recent weeks, the President of the Republic, Vadim Krasnoselski (Transnistria is a separatist autonomy that claims independence from Moldova) contacted the Rabbi of Moldova, Rabbi Pinchas Saltzman, and informed him and Mr. Yuriy Kreichman, chairman of the Jewish community in Tiraspol, about the discoveries and that the government wishes to give the murdered the proper respect, to treat and bury them properly, and erect a monument in memory of those who perished.
"The earth is soaked in the blood of innocent Jews and non-Jews. During that time, terrible acts were committed on our land that deserve all condemnation, and our job is to make sure that such acts do not happen again, God forbid," President Krasnoselsky told Rabbi Satlzman in a conversation.
Three mass graves have already been found, and according to estimates there are six or seven more mass graves. According to local experts, the number of those murdered is between thousands and tens of thousands, most of them Jews.
"We are shocked," describes Rabbi Pinchas Saltzman, Rabbi of Moldova. "It is Incomprehensible, to the human mind, how the communist government treated people just because of their religion and belief. The graves were full of bones, alongside personal items such as shoes, clothing, and wallets."
"Thanks to the strong connections with the local government, which goes out of its way for the Jewish community, we started to take care of a proper burial for those thousands who were killed in sanctification of G-d's Name. In the coming days, together with local volunteers and those from around the world, we hope to map the rest of the mass graves and turn the place into a burial site without shaking the bones and disturbing the rest of the murdered, in accordance with the Jewish law."