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Briceni

Briceni, Hotin County, Bessarabia District, Romania (today Briceni) , Moldova )

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Jews first settled in Briceni in the mid-18th century. In 1897, under the Russian Empire, the Jewish population of the town comprised 84 percent of the total population. In 1917, during the Russian revolution, Cherkess and Turkmen cavalrymen staged a pogrom during which they looted Jewish property.
In 1918, after World War I, Bessarabia was incorporated into the independent Romanian state and, thus, Briceni came under Romanian rule.
During the interwar era local Jews engaged mainly in trading in cattle and pelts for fur. The census of 1930 reported that Jews comprised 95 percent of the total population of 5,625. The town had a Jewish hospital, and various Jewish economic and cultural institutions. Jewish Zionist youth organizations (such as Hashomer Hatzair, Gordonia, Dror, and Beitar) were active in Briceni. There were also two Talmud Torah schools (an old and a new one) and a private Jewish highschool. In June 1940, following the Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact, Bessarabia was annexed by the Soviet Union and Briceni became part of Soviet Moldova. Private businesses, as well as community political and cultural organizations were closed, and all private enterprises were nationalazied. Some professional cooperatives were set up. Many wealthy Jews, among them some leading figures of the Jewish community of Briceni, were arrested and deported in June 1941. It is estimated that on the eve of the war the Jewish population of the town was 10,000.
Allied with Nazi Germany, Romania entered the war against the Soviet Union on June 22, 1941, and rapidly regained control over Bessarabia. Some of the Jews of Briceni succeed in fleeing eastward before the arrival of the Romanian Army. In early July 1941, when the Romanian army entered Briceni, a pogrom with mass looting and attacks on Jews raged in the town. Some Jews hid outside of town, in fields, while a few managed to find shelter in the houses of non-Jews. A curfew was imposed on the Jewish residents of Briceni. Jewish men were sent to perform forced labor both inside and outside the town. During July 1941 Jewish residents of the nearby towns of Lipcani and Secureni fled to Briceni. In the same month several dozen Jewish residents of Briceni, mainly young men, were killed by Romanian soldiers with the help of local accomplices from the Gendarmerie and Romanian civilian authorities, east of Briceni, near the road leading to the town of Edineț. On July 28, 1941 the majority of the Jews of Briceni who remained alive were rounded up and taken under guard out of town toward Secureni. After spending time in various transit camps, they were eventually deported to Transnistria.
Briceni was liberated by the Red Army on March 27, 1944.