Bukovina in World War II – (3)

Part 3: The Life of the Residents of Northern Bukovina under Soviet Occupation

Willi Kosiul
Translation by Google, Needs Editing

From the Website of Willi Kosiul
Posted with permission of the author’s son, February 21, 2021

Part 2: The Occupation of the Northern Part of Bukovina by the Soviet Army

During the Soviet occupation of northern Bukovina on June 28, 1940 and even afterwards, the inhabitants of Bukovina of all denominations and ethnicities – except Jews and Communists – were appalled and affected. Even many Ukrainians were not enthusiastic about it. Only the Jews of northern Bukovina saw in large part a glimmer of hope for their future existence. In their fear of the growing nationalism and anti-Semitism in Romania, they saw the invasion of the Soviet army in northern Bukovina as their salvation and liberation. But this political attitude of the Jewish population as well as some Ukrainian communists of the northern Bukovina, produced among the other nationalities of the northern Bukovina, especially among the Romanians as well as the Germans,

The Soviet Army had not yet fully occupied the state capital Chernivtsi when the struggle of the Jewish and Ukrainian communists for supremacy in the town hall and in the city began. It was only after a few days when the Soviet occupying power had set up a provisional military administration in Chernivtsi and it started work there without involving the local communist rivals that this political rivalry between the Jews and the Ukrainian communists was ended.

In the state capital of Chernivtsi, Soviet tanks and groups of soldiers were posted at important places, intersections, administrative buildings and larger supply facilities. They demonstratively occupied these important positions and demonstrated their power and sole rule to the population. Day and night, Soviet tanks and horse-drawn infantry drove along the paved long-distance road from Chernivtsi to the south, as well as to Sereth, Storozynetz and Czudyn, to militarily occupy the northern part of Bukovina up to the river as well as the city of Sereth and Seletin and from Romania to seal off.

Already this sudden and surprising Soviet occupation of northern Bukovina and then the large number of Soviet military as well as the loud engine noise on the thoroughfares had already alarmed and worried the majority of the residents of northern Bukovina. After the establishment of the Soviet military administration in Chernivtsi as well as the military command offices in the district towns and military group posts in the market towns and large towns, Soviet patrols were deployed to ensure peace, order and security. Local looting was stopped and night intruders and looters were caught in the act or some were shot while trying to escape.

While in the cities of the southern Romanian Bukovina, Sereth, Radautz, Suczawa and the surrounding area, the majority of the residents were afraid and feared that the Soviet troops might advance further south and also take their area, there were some pro-Soviets there too Forces that would have welcomed that. Especially in the cities of Sereth and Radautz there were some communist-minded Ukrainians as well as Jews who regretted and were also disappointed that the Soviet troops had not occupied Sereth and Radautz either. Many such Soviet-friendly Ukrainians and also Jews packed their things afterwards,

After a few days of Soviet occupation, many Jewish citizens of Chernivtsi and the whole of northern Bukovina experienced a great disappointment. All factories, shops and warehouses – including those of the Jews – were confiscated and requisitioned by the Soviet military. The wealthy Jewish owners were expropriated as capitalists, many imprisoned and imprisoned. Since most of the owners of these confiscated and expropriated objects were Jewish citizens, the Jews were very disappointed about what their “liberators” were doing to them now.

The Soviet military administration in Chernivtsi issued a call to all citizens of northern Bukovina to surrender their weapons immediately. Since the Jews already owned most of the legal civil weapons from the time of Romanian rule and had also acquired military handguns during the change in power, they now had to surrender most of the weapons.

When the citizens returned their weapons to the collection points, they were also asked where they had all these weapons from. Many Jews were arrested, held in custody for several weeks and interrogated as to why and why they had these weapons. Among these imprisoned gun owners, most of them were Jewish citizens who were disappointed by their “liberators” here too.

The entire administration as well as business life was paralyzed for two weeks after the Soviet occupation of northern Bukovina. All shops were closed, and the goods were confiscated and nationalized by the Soviet military administration. Deficiency symptoms and problems arose in the supply of the population and now self-sufficiency from one’s own household was required.

In the cities and larger towns, state magazines (= like convenience stores) were opened to supply the population, but the goods offered in them were quite primitive in type and quality, and in terms of quantity they were not sufficient to supply the population. The up to then richer as well as wealthy people, who were used to better care up to now, had to make huge changes and buy a lot of the groceries they needed on the fly.

Since the rural population had always been mainly supplied by their housekeeping, this new situation – with the supply shortages – did not hit them so hard. But the urban residents, who had neither a housekeeping nor a large garden and had already had to buy everything for their supplies, were now in a very bad way. They now often had to get some groceries in hand.

With the Soviet occupation of Northern Bukovina, all ethnic groups living in it – according to Soviet laws – automatically became Soviet citizens and had to fulfill all their civic duties afterwards and from there, including the performance of their military service. Only the residents of northern Bukovina of German origin who were accepted for resettlement in the German Reich were excluded. They did not automatically become Soviet citizens and – when they were accepted for resettlement – were immediately subject to the security and protection of the German Reich.

Part 4: The Reoccupation of Northern Bukovina in 1941 by the Romanian Army