Miriam Korber's Diary Entries on Life in Atachi, Romania

Entries from the diary of Miriam Korber from November 1942, in which she describes the miserable living conditions after being deported to Atachi, Romania.

November 4, 1942

We leave Câmpulung behind and arrive at the train station. Here the scene is even more awful. Weeping, grief, bags, screams; we are loaded into cars that are actually used to transport horses. The cars had been cleaned of the hay so we get in, thirty-eight people in a car, of whom four are over eighty years old and one is a paralyzed child. We were afraid that they would seal the cars. At the station bread was distributed to the people. From what we had thought and heard, we were going to a town somewhere in Bessarabia, Atachi; . . .

In the middle of the wailings, I managed to see a magnificent sunset. On Tuesday morning we arrived in Atachi. Until six in the evening we remained outside, and then, “go away Jew,” by wagon, [we] arrived in the city. Along the road we saw thousands of people. By the hundreds in each house, but what houses! They were all wrecked, without a roof, the homes of the Jews who had been killed; we saw on each wall, written with charcoal, the names of those who had been murdered. . . ..

Friday November 7, 1942

During the first night in Atachi I saw what human misery really means. I saw people without a human face, I saw children with swollen eyes, frozen feet, helpless little hands; mothers with dead children in their arms, old people and young ones wrapped in rags - they were Jews from the Edineți camp. Chased away, infested with typhus, covered with lice, almost starved to death, they poured into Atachi, without the right to stop here.1 One family (the husband a lawyer, the wife a pharmacist) with two children and an old mother (what’s left of a mummy) burst into our so-called home and after a real scuffle, since we were not allowed to received them, we let them stay till morning. . . .

In Atachi we spent the days preparing meals. The outdoor cooking range made of stone was interesting. For firewood they used pieces torn from an old roof. . . .At the Dniester River we washed in the cold and dirty water. For a bucket of clean water we paid twenty lei [Romanian currency], for a chicken, Mother traded a ring with a stone. This is because people throw their jewelry in toilets, or wherever they can, for fear of house searches. . . .

In Atachi we started to ration the food: potato soup, potatoes, cornmeal, tea. In Atachi I saw that hunger knows no shame. We remained in Atachi until Sunday. We survived the inspection. The weather was miserable. It was raining and we were up to our ankles in mud. We arrived by wagon at the embarkation point on the Dniester. . . .And so we crossed the Dniester by boat [. . .] [and] we arrived in Mogilev.

November 8, 1941

We live close to the Dniester and everyday people cross the river. But they do not cross like we did; they are beaten up, chased away, robbed. They must cross it at night. Awful screams, mothers crying, children lost from their families; the chorus of lamentations deepened our despair.  The occasional shootings by soldiers heightened the sense of panic. Nights, like days, were spent in fear and anxiety that soldiers would come and take us away at camp.[. . . ] Our departure from Mogilev was decided fast. Bondy managed to get in touch with some Germans who, in exchange for money, would drive trucks with Jews toward the interior. That is how we also left Mogilev.[. . . ]2



[1] For more information on Atachi as a central transit site for deportations see: https://www.zachorfoundation.org/timeline/150000-jews-deported-to-transnistria-90000-perish/

[2] Alexandra Zapruder, ed., Salvaged Pages: Young Writers' Diaries of the Holocaust, 2nd edition (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2015) 250,-252.


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