Chess in the Ghetto
A chess set that the young girl Chaya Stecolchic received as a gift from the youth Leone Goldstein when they were liberated from the Mogilev ghetto in Transnistria
Chaya-Claris Stecolchic was born in 1928 and grew up in Czernowitz, Romania (today Ukraine). From June 1940 the city was under Soviet control and the living conditions of the Jews worsened. Prior to the Soviet withdrawal in June 1941, many of the Jews were deported to Siberia. Those who stayed, suffered from the increasingly harsh treatment of the Jews by the Romanian fascist authorities. In October 1941 the Jews, among them the Stecolchic family, were imprisoned in the Czernowitz ghetto. From there they were deported to the Mogilev ghetto in Transnistria, where they were forced to struggle to survive in conditions of famine and cold.
In the Mogilev ghetto, Chaya was befriended by the youth Leone Goldstein who taught her to play chess with a game that he had in his possession. When they were released from the ghetto, Leone gave the chess game to Chaya. On the reverse of the chessboard he wrote “In remembrance of the difficult but pleasant days 24/4/1944”.
After their release, the Stecolchic family returned to their home in Czernowitz, but after a year they escaped from Soviet rule and settled in Bucharest, Romania. Chaya married and together with her husband moved to Israel with the first wave of emigration from Romania in 1962. Chaya passed away in 2008.
Yad Vashem Artifacts Collection
Gift of Chaya (Stecolchic) Shirding, Holon