Bessarabia ("Basarabia" in Romanian, Бесарабія in Ukrainian, Бессарабия in Russian, Бесарабия in Bulgarian, "Besarabya" in Turkish) is a historical term for the geographic entity in
Eastern Europebounded by the Dniester Riveron the east and the Prut Riveron the west. This was the name by which Imperial Russiadesignated the eastern part of the principality of Moldavia, ceded by the Ottoman Empire(to which Moldavia was a vassal) to Russia in the aftermath of the Russo-Turkish War, 1806-1812. The western part of Moldavia united with Wallachiain 1859 in what would become the Kingdom of Romania. In 1918, slightly before the end of World War I, Bessarabia declared its independence from Russia and after three months united with the Kingdom of Romania. Bessarabia was occupied by the USSRin 1940 (considered a consequence of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact), but changed hands several times during World War II. The Soviet annexation was internationally recognized in 1947. Its core part was reorganised as the Moldavian SSR, to which parts of the previous Moldavian ASSRwere added. At the same time, some smaller parts of Bessarabia, in the south ( Budjak) and north, were transferred to the Ukrainian SSR. In 1991, the Moldavian SSR was renamed the Republic of Moldova, and on 27 Augustthe latter declared independence from the USSR.
The region is bounded by the Dniester river to the north and east, the
Prutto the west and the lower Danuberiver and the Black Seato the south. It has approximately 17,600 sq mi (45,600 km²). The area is mostly hilly plains with flat steppes. It is very fertile for agriculture, and it also has some lignitedeposits and stone quarries. People living in the area grow sugar beets, sunflowers, wheat, maize, tobacco, wine grapesand fruit. They also raise sheepand cattle. Currently, the main industry in the region is agricultural processing.
The region's main cities are
Chişinău, the capital of Moldova, Izmail, Bilhorod-Dnistrovs'kyi(historically called Cetatea Albă and Akkerman). Other towns of administrative or historical importance include: Khotyn, Lipcani, Briceni, Soroca, Bălţi, Orhei, Ungheni, Bender/Tighina, Cahul, Reni, and Kilia.
The name Bessarabia ("Basarabia" in Romanian) derives from the
Wallachian Basarab dynasty, who allegedly ruled over the southern part of the area in the 14th century. The name originally applied only to the southern part of the territory, which roughly, but not exactly corresponds to Budjak. The Ottomans were the first to call it "Besarabya", when they established military presence the area in 1484 and 1538.
Since late 14th century, what later became Bessarabia has been partly or wholly controlled by: the
Principality of Moldavia, the Ottoman Empire(as suzerain of Moldavia, direct rule only in Budjak and Khotin), Russian Empire, Romania, the USSR, Ukraine, and Moldova.
The territory of Bessarabia has been inhabited by people for thousands of years. The Indo-European culture spread in the region around 2000 BC. The early inhabitants of the region included the
Cimmerians, the Scythiansand the Bastarnae, but also Thracian ( Dacians, Getae) tribes of Costoboci, Carpi, Britogali, and Tyragetae. In the 6th century BC, Greek settlers established the colony of Tyras, along the Black Seacoast and traded with the locals. Also, Celts settled in the southern parts of Bessarabia, their main city being Aliobrix.
The first polity that included the whole of Bessarabia was the Dacian polity of
Burebistain the 1st century BC. After his death, the polity was divided into smaller pieces and was only unified in the Dacian kingdom of Decebalusin the 1st century AD. This kingdom was defeated by the Roman Empirein 106 and southern Bessarabia was included in the empire. The Romans built defensive earthen walls in Southern Bessarabia ( Lower Trajan Wall) to defend the Scythia Minorprovince against invasions.
In 270, the Roman authorities began to withdraw their forces south of the Danube, due to the invading
Gothsand Carps. The Goths, a Germanic tribe, poured into the Roman Empire through the southern part of Bessarabia ( Budjak), which due to its geographic position and characteristics (mainly steppe), was swept by various nomadic tribes. From the 5th century it was overrun in turn by the Huns, the Avars, and the Bulgars.
The Age of migrations
From the 3rd century until the 11th century, the region was invaded numerous times by the
Goths, Huns, Avars, Bulgars, Slavs(South, i.e. Bulgarian, and Eastern), Magyars, Pechenegs, Cumansand Mongols. The territory of Bessarabia was encompassed in dozens of ephemeral kingdoms which were disbanded when another wave of migrants arrived. Those centuries were characterized by a terrible state of insecurity and mass movement of people. The period was later known as the " Dark Ages" of Europe.
In 561, the Avars captured Bessarabia and executed the local ruler
Mesamer. Following Avars, Slavs started to arrive in the region and establish settlements. Then, in 582, OnogurBulgars settled in south-eastern Bessarabia and northern Dobruja, from which they moved to Moesiaunder pressure from the Khazarsand formed the nascent region of Bulgaria. With the rise of the Khazars' state in the east, the invasions began to diminish and it was possible to create larger states. According to some opinions, the Southern part of Bessarabia remained under the influence of the First Bulgarian Empireuntil to the end of 9th century.
Between the 8th and 10th centuries, the southern part of Bessarabia was inhabitated by people from
Balkan-Dunabian culture[ Чеботаренко, Г.Ф. Материалы к археологической карте памятников VІІІ-Х вв. южной части Пруто-Днестровского междуречья//Далекое прошлое Молдавии, Кишинев, 1969, с. 224-230] (the culture of the First Bulgarian Empire). Between the 9th and 13th centuries, Bessarabia is mentioned in Slav chronicles as part of "Bolohoveni" (north) and " Brodnici" (south) voivodeships, believed by some authors to be Vlachprincipalities of the early Middle Ages.
The Tatar invasions of 1241 and 1290 led to a retreat of a big part of the population to the Eastern Carpathians and to Transylvania. Apparently, only one group east of the Prut river did not retreat to mountain regions at the time of the Tatar invasions. In later middle-age chronicles it is mentioned as the
Tigheci"republic", situated near the modern town of Cahulin the southwest of Bessarabia, preserving its autonomy even during the later Principality of Moldavia.
The last large scale invasions were those of the Mongols of 1241, 1290 and 1343. Sehr al-Jedid (near
Orhei), an important settlement of the Golden Horde, dates from this period.
Principality of Moldavia
After the 1360s the region was gradually included in the
principalityof Moldavia, which by 1392 established control over the fortresses of Cetatea Albă and Chilia, its eastern border becoming the river Dniester.
In the latter part of the 14th century, the southern part of the region was for several decades part of
Wallachia. The main dynasty of Wallachia was called Basarab, from which the current name of the region originated.
In the 15th century, the entire region was a part of the principality of Moldavia. Stephen the Great ruled between 1457 and 1504, a period of nearly 50 years during which he won 32 battles defending his country against virtually all his neighbours (mainly the Ottomans and the Tatars, but also the Hungarians and the Poles), while losing only two. During this period, after each victory, he raised a monastery or a church close to the battlefield honoring Christianity. Many of these battlefields and churches, as well as old fortresses, are situated in Bessarabia (mainly along the Dniester river).
In 1484, the Turks invaded and captured Chilia and Cetatea Albă (Akkerman in Turkish), and annexed the shoreline southern part of Bessarabia, which was then divided into two
sanjaks (districts) of the Ottoman Empire. In 1538, the Ottomans annexed more Bessarabian land in the south as far as Tighina, while the central and northern parts of Bessarabia were already formally a vassalof the Ottoman Empire as part of the principality of Moldavia.
Between 1711 and 1812, the
Russian Empireoccupied the region five times during its wars against Ottoman and Austrian Empires. Between 1812 and 1846, the Bulgarian and Gagauz population migrated to the Russian Empire via the Danube, after living many years under oppressive Ottoman rule, and settled in southern Bessarabia. Turkic-speaking tribes of the Nogaihorde also inhabited the Budjak Region (in Turkish Bucak) of southern Bessarabia from the 16th to 18th centuries, but were totally driven out prior to 1812.
Annexation by the Russian Empire
: "Main article:
Bessarabia in the Russian Empire"By the Treaty of Bucharest of May 28, 1812— concluding the Russo-Turkish War, 1806-1812— the Ottoman Empireceded the eastern half of the Principality of Moldavia to the Russian Empire. That region was then called "Bessarabia".
In 1814, the first German settlers arrived and mainly settled in the southern parts and
Bessarabian Bulgariansbegan settling in the region too, founding towns such as Bolhrad.
Administratively, Bessarabia became an "
oblast" of the Russian Empire in 1818 and a " guberniya" in 1873.
Treaty of Adrianoplethat concluded the Russo-Turkish War of 1828-1829the entire Danubedelta of was added to the Bessarabian oblast.
At the end of the
Crimean War, in 1856, by the Treaty of Paris, two districts of southern Bessarabia were returned to Moldavia, causing the Russian Empire to lose access to the Danuberiver.
Moldaviaand Wallachiaunited to form the Kingdom of Romaniain 1866, which included the southern part of Bessarabia.
Romanian War of Independencewas fought in 1877–78, with the help of the Russian Empire as an ally. Although the treaty of alliance between Romania and the Russian Empire specified that the Russian Empire would respect the territorial integrity of Romania and not claim any part of Romania at the end of the war Fact|date=February 2007, by the Treaty of Berlin, the southern part of Bessarabia was again annexed by Russia.
Kishinev pogromtook place in the capital of Bessarabia on April 6, 1903after local newspapers published articles inciting the public to act against Jews; 47 or 49 Jews were killed, 92 severely wounded and 700 houses destroyed. The anti-Semitic newspaper Бессарабец (Bessarabetz, meaning "Bessarabian"), published by Pavel Krushevan, insinuated that a Russian boy was killed by local Jews. Another newspaper, Свет (Svet, "Light"), used the age-old blood libelagainst the Jews (alleging that the boy had been killed to use his blood in preparation of matzos).
After the 1905 Russian Revolution, a Romanian nationalist movement started to develop in Bessarabia. In the chaos brought by the Russian revolution of October 1917, a National Council (
Sfatul Ţării) was established in Bessarabia, with 120 members elected from Bessarabia by some political and professional organizations and 10 elected from Transnistria(the left bank of the Dniester River where Moldovansand Romaniansaccounted for less than a third and the majority of the population was Ukrainian. See Demographics of Transdniestria).
January 14, 1918, during the disorderly retreat of two Russian divisions from the Romanian front, Chişinău was sacked. The " Rumcherod" Committee ( Central Executive Committeeof the Soviets of Romanian Front, Black Sea Fleetand OdessaMilitary District) proclaimed itself the supreme power in Bessarabia. The Russian commander of the region, General Dmitriy Shcherbachev, unable to control Bessarabia due to the Bolshevik revolution, allegedly requested the Romanian Army for helpFact|date=June 2008 (Russian historians dispute the fact of this request).Fact|date=July 2008 On 16 Januarya Romanian division entered Chişinău, and on the following day Tighinaon the shore of the river Dniester. The three-day Soviet rule in Bessarabia ended.
Ten days later, on
January 24, 1918, Sfatul Ţăriideclared Bessarabia's independence as the Moldavian Democratic Republic.
Unification with Romania
The county councils of
Bălţi, Sorocaand Orheiwere the earliest to ask for unification with the Kingdom of Romania, and on April 9 [O.S. March 27] 1918, in the presence of the Romanian Army,Cristina Petrescu, [http://dacoromania.org/index.php?nma=catalog&fla=stat&cat_id=8&page=1&nums=122 "Contrasting/Conflicting Identities:Bessarabians, Romanians, Moldovans" in Nation-Building and Contested Identities] , Polirom, 2001, pg. 156, also footnote №23 on page 169] Sfatul Ţăriivoted in favour of the union, with the following conditions:
# Sfatul Ţării would undertake an agrarian reform, which would be accepted by the Romanian Government.
# Bessarabia would remain autonomous, with its own diet, Sfatul Ţării, elected democratically
# Sfatul Ţării would vote for local budgets, control the councils of the "zemstva" and cities, and appoint the local administration
# Conscription would be done on a territorial basis
# Local laws and the form of administration could be changed only with the approval of local representatives
# The rights of minorities had to be respected
# Two Bessarabian representatives would be part of the Romanian government
# Bessarabia would send to the Romanian Parliament a number of representatives equal to the proportion of its population
# All elections must involve a direct, equal, secret, and universal vote
# Freedom of speech and of belief must be guaranteed in the constitution
# All individuals who had committed felonies for political reasons during the revolution would be amnestied.
86 deputies voted in support, 3 voted against and 36 abstained.
The first condition, the agrarian reform, was debated and approved in November 1918.
Sfatul Ţăriialso decided to remove the other conditions and made unification with Romania unconditional. [Charles King, "The Moldovans: Romania, Russia, and the Politics of Culture", Hoover Press, 2000, pg. 35 ] This vote has been judged illegitimate, since there was no quorum: only 44 of the 125 members took part in it (all voted "for"). [Charles King, "The Moldovans: Romania, Russia, and the Politics of Culture", Hoover Press, 2000, pg. 35 ]
In the autumn of 1919, elections for the Romanian Constituent Assembly were held in Bessarabia; 90 deputies and 35 senators were chosen. On December 20, 1919, these men voted, along with the representatives of Romania's other regions, to ratify the unification acts that had been approved by Sfatul Ţării and the National Congresses in Transylvania and Bukovina.
The union was recognized by France, United Kingdom, Italy, and Japan in the Treaty of Paris of 1920, which however never came into force, because Japan did not ratify it. The
United Statesrefused to sign the treaty on the grounds that Russiawas not represented at the Conference. [Wayne S Vucinich, "Bessarabia" In: " Collier's Encyclopedia" (Crowell Collier and MacMillan Inc., 1967) vol. 4, p. 103] Soviet Russia (and later, the USSR) did not recognize the union, and by 1924, after its demands for a regional plebiscitewere declined by Romania for the second time, declared Bessarabia to be Soviet territory under foreign occupation. [C. Petrescu, footnote №26 on page 170]
Part of Romania
A Provisional Workers' & Peasants' Government of Bessarabia was founded on
May 5, 1919, in exile at Odessa, by the Bolsheviks.
May 11, 1919, the Bessarabian Soviet Socialist Republicwas proclaimed as an autonomous part of Russian SFSR, but was abolished by the military forces of Polandand Francein September 1919 (see Polish-Soviet War). After the victory of Bolshevist Russiain the Russian Civil War, the Ukrainian SSRwas created in 1922, and in 1924 the Moldovan Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republicwas established on a strip of Ukrainian land on the left bank of the Dniester Riverwhere Moldovansand Romaniansaccounted for less than a third and the majority of population was Ukrainian. (See Demographics of Moldovan Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic).
World War II
The Soviet Union did not recognize incorporation of Bessarabia into Romania and throughout the entire
interwar periodengaged in constant, fruitless diplomatic disputes with the government of Romania over this territory.Cristina Petrescu, [http://www.pasts.ceu.hu/fileadmin/template/www.pasts.ceu.hu/files/nation_building_and_contested_identities.pdf "Contrasting/Conflicting Identities:Bessarabians, Romanians, Moldovans" in Nation-Building and Contested Identities] , Polirom, 2001, p. 170, footnote №26.] The Molotov-Ribbentrop Pactwas signed on August 23, 1939. By Article 4 of the secret Annex to the Treaty, Bessarabia fell within the Soviet interest zone.
In spring 1940 Western Europe was overrun by Nazi Germany, with world attention focused on those events. On
June 26, 1940, the USSR issued an ultimatumto Romania, demanding immediate cession of Bessarabia and northern Bukovina. Romania was given four days to evacuate its troops and officials. The two provinces had an area of 51,000 km² (20,000 square miles), and were inhabited by about 3.75 million people, half of them Romanians, according to official Romanian sources. Two days later, Romania yielded and began evacuation. During the evacuation, from June 28to July 3, groups of local Communists and Soviet sympathizers attacked the retreating forces, and civilians who chose to leave. Many members of the minorities ( Jews, ethnic Ukrainians and others) joined in these attacks. [cite book | last = Nagy-Talavera | first = Nicolas M. | title = Green Shirts and Others: a History of Fascism in Hungary and Romania | date = 1970 | page = 305] The Romanian Army was also attacked by the Soviet Army, which entered Bessarabia before the Romanian administration finished retreating. The casualties reported by the Romanian Army during those seven days consisted of 356 officers and 42,876 soldiers dead or missing. [cite book | author= Paul Goma| title = Săptămâna Roşie | date = 2006 | page = 206 | url = http://paulgoma.free.fr/dl_links/publicistica/saptamana_rosie.php]
August 2, the Moldavian Soviet Socialist Republicwas established on most of the territory of Bessarabia, merged with parts of the former Moldavian ASSR. Bessarabia was divided between the Moldavian SSR (70% of the territory and 80% of the population) and the Ukrainian SSR. Bessarabia's northern and southern districts (nowadays Budjakand parts of the Chernivtsi oblast) were alloted to Ukraine, while some territories (4,000 sq.km) on the left (eastern) bank of the Dniester (present Transnistria), previously part of Ukraine, were allotted to Moldavia. Following the Soviet takeover, many Bessarabians, who were accused of supporting the deposed Romanian administration, were executed or deported to Siberiaand Kazakhstan.
Between September and November 1940, the ethnic Germans of Bessarabia were offered resettlement to Germany, following a German-Soviet agreement. Fearing Soviet oppression, almost all Germans (93,000) agreed. Most of them, among them the parents of the current German President
Horst Köhler, were resettled to the newly annexed Polish territories.
June 22, 1941the Axis invasion of the Soviet Union commenced with Operation Barbarossa. In Bessarabia and northern Bukovina, Romanian troops attacked along the Germans. The Soviets employed scorched earthtactics during their forced retreat from Bessarabia, destroying the infrastructure, and transporting movable goods to Russia by railway. At the end of July, after a year of Soviet rule, the region was once again under Romanian control.
As the military operation was still in progress, there were cases of Romanian troops "taking revenge" on Jews in Bessarabia, in the form of
pogroms on civilians and murder of Jewish POWs, resulting in several thousand dead. The supposed cause for murdering Jews was that in 1940 some Jews welcomed the Soviet takeover as liberation. At the same time the notorious SS Einsatzgruppe D, operating in the area of the German 11th Army, committed summary executions of Jews under the pretext that they were spies, saboteurs, Communists, or under no pretext whatsoever.
The political solution of the "
Jewish Question" was apparently seen by the Romanian dictatorMarshal Ion Antonescumore in expulsion rather than extermination. That portion of the Jewish population of Bessarabia and Bukovina which did not flee before the retreat of the Soviet troops (147,000) was initially gathered into ghettosor concentration camps, and then deported during 1941-1942 in death marches into Romanian-occupied Transnistria, where the " Final Solution" was applied.
After three years of relative peace, the German-Soviet front returned in 1944 to the land border on the
Dniester. On August 20, 1944, a ca. 3,400,000-strong Red Armybegan a major summer offensive codenamed Jassy-Kishinev Operation. The Soviet armies overran Bessarabia in a two-pronged offensive within five days. In pocket battles at Chişinăuand Săratathe German 6th Army of ca. 650,000 men, newly reformed after the Battle of Stalingrad, was obliterated. Simultaneously with the success of the Russian attack, Romania broke the military alliance with the Axis and changed sides. On August 23, 1944, Marshal Ion Antonescu was arrested by King Michael, and later handed over to the Soviets.
Part of the Soviet Union
The Soviet Union regained the region in 1944, and the Red Army occupied Romania. By 1947, the Soviets had imposed a communist government in Bucharest, which was friendly and obedient towards Moscow. The
Soviet occupation of Romanialasted until 1958. The Romanian communist regime did not openly raise the matter of Bessarabia or Northern Bukovina in its diplomatic relations with the Soviet Union.
Between 1969 and 1971 , a clandestine National Patriotic Front was established by several young intellectuals in Chişinău, totaling over 100 members, vowing to fight for the establishment of a Moldavian Democratic Republic, its secession from the Soviet Union and union with Romania.
In December 1971, following an informative note from Ion Stănescu, the President of the Council of State Security of the Romanian Socialist Republic, to
Yuri Andropov, the chief of KGB, three of the leaders of the National Patriotic Front, Alexandru Usatiuc-Bulgar, Gheorghe Ghimpuand Valeriu Graur, as well as a forth person, Alexandru Soltoianu, the leader of a similar clandestine movement in northern Bukovina(Bucovina), were arrested and later sentenced to long prison terms.
Rise of independent Moldova
With the weakening of the Soviet Union, in February 1988, the first non-sanctioned demonstrations were held in Chişinău. At first pro-
Perestroika, they soon turned anti-government and demanded official status for the Moldavian (Romanian) language instead of the Russian language.
August 31, 1989, following a 600,000-strong demonstration in Chişinău four days earlier, Moldavian (Romanian) became the official language of the Moldavian Soviet Socialist Republic. However, this was not implemented for many years.
In 1990, the first free elections were held for Parliament, with the opposition Popular Front all but winning them. A government led by
Mircea Druc, one of the leaders of the Popular Front, was formed. The Moldavian SSR became SSR Moldova, and later the Republic of Moldova.
The Republic of Moldova became independent in 1991; its boundaries (those established on
August 2, 1940) remained unchanged.
The population before
World War IIconsisted of Romanians, Ukrainians( Ruthenians), Russians, Bulgarians, Gagauz, Germans, and Jews. According to the census data of the Russian Empire, during the 19th century the ethnic Romanians decreased from 86% (1817) to 47.6% (1897).
Russian Census 1817, [Ion Nistor, Istoria Basarabiei, edit. Humanitas, Bucureşti, 1991] (total 482,000 inhabitants)
* 83,848 Romanian families (86%)
* 6,000 Ruthenian families (6,5%)
* 3,826 Jewish families (1,5%)
* 640 Greek families (0,7%)
* 530 Armenian families (0,6%)
* 241 Bulgarian families (0,25%)
* 241 Gagauz families (0,25%)
Russian Census 1856, [Ion Nistor, Istoria Basarabiei, edit. Humanitas, Bucureşti, 1991] (total 990,000 inhabitants)
* 736,000 Romanians (74%)
* 119,000 Ukrainians (12%)
* 79,000 Jews (8%)
* 47,000 Bulgarians and Gagauz (5%)
* 24,000 Germans (2.4%)
* 11,000 Gypsies (1.1%)
* 6,000 Russians (0.6%)
Russian Census 1897, [ [http://demoscope.ru/weekly/ssp/rus_lan_97.php?reg=31 Results of the 1897 Russian Census at demoscope.ru] ] (total 1,935,412 inhabitants). Some scholars believed that " [...] the census enumerator generally has instructions to count everyone who understands the state language as being of that nationality, no matter what his everyday speech may be." [Charles Upson Clark, [http://depts.washington.edu/cartah/text_archive/clark/bc_17.shtml Bessarabia. Russia and Roumania on the Black Sea] :"These figures were based on estimates of the population of Bessarabia as consisting 70% of Moldavians, 14% Ukrainians, 12% Jews, 6% Russians, 3% Bulgarians, 3% Germans, 2% Gagautzi (Turks of Christian religion), and 1% Greeks and Armenians. This appears to be a fairly accurate guess; the official Russian figures, which the Moldavians considered as inaccurate and padded, set the Moldavian proportion considerably lower, as about one-half. Such figures are misleading in all European countries of mixed nationalities, since the census enumerator generally has instructions to count everyone who understands the state language as being of that nationality, no matter what his everyday speech may be."] By language:
* 920,919 Moldavians and Romanians (47.6%)
* 379,698 Ukrainians (19.6%)
* 228,168 Jews (11.8%)
* 155,774 Russians (8%)
* 103,225 Bulgarians (5.3%)
* 60,026 Germans (3.1%)
* 55,790 Turks (Gagauzes) (2.9%)
Romanians Census 1930, (total 3,105,530 inhabitants)Notes: (1) parts of Iaşi (Ungheni) and Fălciu counties were in Bessarabia;(2) * = data counted at others for these counties
Data of the 1939 was not completely processed before the Soviet occupation. Estimates of the total population at 3.5 million.
1970: 69% of Bessarabia's population were Moldovan and 98% of them declared
Moldovan language( Romanian language) as their native language.vague|Whole Bessarabia or just MSSR|date=March 2008Fact|date=July 2007
1989: There were 88,419
Bessarabian Bulgariansaccording to official data from Republic of Moldova
1992: 4,305 immigrants to Israel from the Republic of Moldova constituted 7.1 percent of all the immigrants to Israel from the former U.S.S.R. in this year.
2004: There were 65,072
Bessarabian Bulgariansaccording to the census not including Bulgarians in Transnistria.
* 1911: There were 165 loan societies, 117 savings banks, forty three professional savings and loan societies, and eight Zemstvo loan offices; all these had total assets of about 10,000,000 rubles. There were also eighty nine government savings banks, with deposits of about 9,000,000 rubles.
* 1918: Railway mileage was only 657 miles; the main lines converged on Russia and were broad gauge. Rolling stock and right of way were in bad shape. There were about 400 locomotives, with only about one hundred fit for use. There were 290 passenger coaches and thirty three more out for repair. Finally, out of 4530 freight cars and 187 tank cars, only 1389 and 103 were usable. The Romanians reduced the gauge to a standard 4ft 8½in, so that cars could be run to the rest of Europe. Also, there were only a few inefficient boat bridges. Romanian highway engineers decided to build ten bridges:
Cuzlău, Ţuţora, Lipcani, Şerpeniţa, Ştefăneşti- Brănişte, Cahul- Oancea, Bădărăi- Moara Domnească, Sărata, Bumbala- Leova, Badragiand Fălciu(Fălciu is a locality in Romania. Its correspondent in Bessarabia is Cantemir.) Of these, only four were ever finished: Cuzlău, Fălciu, Lipcani and Sărata.
History of Moldova
History of Moldavia
History of the Jews in Bessarabia
* Thilemann, Alfred. "Steppenwind: Erzahlungen aus dem Leben der Bessarabien deutschen" ("The Wind from the Steppe: Stories of the Life of the Bessarabian Germans"). Stuttgart, West Germany: Heimatmuseum der Deutschen aus Bessarabien e.V., 1982.
* [http://depts.washington.edu/cartah/text_archive/clark/meta_pag.shtml Charles Upson Clark. 1927. "Bessarabia: Russia and Roumania on the Black Sea". (An electronic version of the book).]
* [http://www.grhs.org/rig/bess/ Bessarabia Germans from Russia Web Site]
* [http://hist.academic.claremontmckenna.edu/jpetropoulos/ironguard/mapintro.gifCamps, Ghettos and Massacre sites in Romania-Bessarabia 1941-1942]
* [http://www.rtrfoundation.org/webart/JewsBessarabia.pdf Jews in Bessarabia on the eve of WWII]
* [http://www.rtrfoundation.org/webart/massacresbessarabia.pdf Massacres, deportations & death marches from Bessarabia, from July 1941]
* [http://www.scholtoi.de/index_en.html Scholtoi - a village in the North of Bessarabia]
* [http://www.hannowka.de/ Hannowka - a German village in Bessarabia 1896-1940 (website in German)]
* [http://files.osa.ceu.hu/holdings/300/8/3/text/53-2-20.shtml "40th Anniversary of Annexation of Bessarabia and Northern Bucovina"] , George Ciorănescu,
Radio Free Europereport, July 23, 1980.
* [http://files.osa.ceu.hu/holdings/300/8/3/text/53-3-12.shtml "The Problem of Bessarabia and Northern Bucovina during World War II"] , George Ciorănescu, Radio Free Europe report,
December 2, 1981.
* [http://bessarabia.altervista.org/ Bessarabia - Homeland of a German minority]
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