Preface to the 1st edition




Four decades after the great drama in Transnistria, the events are still not known in their entirety, and perhaps no one will ever understand their extent and depth, except for the ones who experienced them personally through their own flesh and blood.  With Transnistria, as with the entire Holocaust, the world was presented with a set of numbers – a cold statistical analysis indicating a huge number of victims. All too few were those who realized that each number in this sinister tally represents a life, a tortured human being, a human being that is no more.


The passage of the years tends to dilute the horrible drama – as the collective memory may be touched by amnesia.  Neo-fascists and neo-nazis, on the other hand, are striving to accredit the idea that the genocide of the Second World War never took place. When confronted with undeniable proof, these individuals will at most admit the existence of a small number of victims, supposedly afflicted by random and sporadic acts of violence. The mist of oblivion covering those dark years, and most importantly the denial of the crimes committed are equivalent with a repeated murder of the many million Jews who were killed for the mere fault of being Jews. This is why each account of an episode in this great drama, each testimony given constitutes a holy act, a debt paid to the memory of the victims, but also a document – capable of dissolving the infamous campaign of lies lead by fascist ghosts and by those seeking to ignite once more the flames of Hell over the world, like the nazi monsters who plunged mankind in this tremendous bloodbath.


The ghettoes and concentration camps existent during the Second World War in the territory beyond the Dniester are links of the vast network of death camps in the nazi extermination machine. Hundreds of thousands of Romanian Jews were victimized there, and the number of those who never returned from the deportation is painfully high.

Sonia Palty did not interview the deportees. She didn’t collect second-hand reports of what took place in Transnistria. Rather, as a 14-year old girl, she endured the cold and famine over there, along with the brutal blows of the savages determined to kill and lewd, and she faced death over there before even facing life. She saw people being put down, humiliated, people with wounded souls, people ending their lives in horrible pain, and people drifting to sleep on the icy, frozen grounds of the exile trail – never to wake up again.


Sonia Palty narrates simply, directly – and all the more movingly – the 14 months spent in deportation. The short and brisk sentence acts as a counter-balance to pathetical discourse, notwithstanding the emotion that filters naturally from the account of the infernal adventure. Moreover, the cutting style serves as a whiplash against oblivion, which is thus prevented from building over this martyrdom. The entire narrative, stemming from a distant childhood-time devoid of a childhood, is imprinted by the mark of the humiliations endured and by a huge, heart-wrenching sufferance. Sonia Palty reports, in the name of the 284 Bucharest residents chased beyond the Dniester –  with whom she shared the black bread of the exile – the bleak story of their deportation.


Beyond a moving testimony, this book is a document depicting a page in the history of Romanian Judaism, as well as an act of accusation against the assassins of all degrees. Inasmuch, it is a book permeated by the sad beauty of a task fulfilled.




M. Rudich, 1980