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[Chapter 6] In 1939 the Germans had already occupied Poland, and the small state of Bessarabia, where Lipcani was embedded, was claimed by Russia, which had wanted it back. The small state of Bessarabia remained in the control of Rumania from the end of the First World War until 1940, even though it was always coveted by Russia. So in 1939, with the Rumanians being one of Germany’s allies, there was an uneasiness in the air. On behalf of the Rumanian government, on a Thursday night in 1940, a laconic ‘communiqué’ was transmitted over the radio to the population, informing them that on the next day, Friday, the Rumanian army would be withdrawn from Bessarabia and that, by nightfall on this same Friday, the Russian army would occupy the state. And that’s what happened. The nightmare experienced on that Friday is indescribable. The crazed population ran through the streets buying everything so that later they would have something to exchange for food. In that one day the stores became empty. Leather was a scarce item in Russia, and shoes were purchased, in all sizes, by everybody in the hope of afterward being able to exchange them. Although being very much in the control of the Rumanians for twenty-two years, the population of Bessarabia knew what awaited them from the other side of the Nistru River, in spite of the border being rigidly guarded. Unfortunately the unexpected occurred: from the first day of the occupation there no longer was any bread. The region of Bessarabia was the second largest producer and Sônia Rosenblatt excerpts from Clouded Memories 104 sônia rosenblatt exporter of grain in the world for the other countries of Europe, exceeded only by the Ukraine. In a land so rich in wheat, not to have bread became unimaginable. The best cakes and other goodies were prepared in the region. Having to stand in line the whole night through in order to get a black bread was almost unbelievable. Nevertheless, on both the population of the city and that of the country, which beforehand had at their disposal their own wheat, the identical torture was imposed. The Russian forces gathered all the grain from that region for Russia itself. [Chapter 7] Without delay the Russian government initiated the program of nationalization and monetary devaluation. When Rumanian money was exchanged for Russian rubles, the banks only gave three hundred rubles to each person. Even those who had a lot of money were left with nothing. The peasants, who, as a general rule, kept their savings buried for a ‘rainy’ day, upon receiving merely three hundred rubles for their capital became uninterested in money and decided not even to sell their products. That attitude caused the ‘famine,’ which spread rapidly. The grocery stores ceased to exist under the recently implemented Soviet system; moreover, the cooperative system had not yet been adopted. Obviously, the solution found by the people was the return to the old system of barter. People would buy used clothing from city establishments, and the peasants would be willing to exchange food products for these. Such food was then sold in the city for money. With this money the people would again buy used clothing, reinitiating the cycle of exchanges. Only perishable food products were brought to the city by the villagers : tomatoes, red peppers, and eggplants, which the people used to call ‘tri-colored’ for representing the colors of the Rumanian flag: red (the tomatoes), yellow (the peppers, which when ripe turned yellow), and blue (the eggplants). Excerpts from Clouded Memories 105 For the rest of the food products, such as butter, chicken, and so on, only the old system of trade worked. [Chapter 8] My parents’ grocery store was closed up and no longer belonged to them. They let them live in only one room of their own house, and they also had to pay rent. That was only during the winter. Afterward my father would be sent to Siberia, the place reserved by the Russians for the ‘bourgeois.’ ‘Statiá99’wasthenamegivenbytheRussianstothedocumentlisting all those designated to be deported to Siberia. And they were many. Once the panic among the population was rampant, many people fled to the neighboring city, the prosperous Tchernovitz. Among them, me, my husband, and our little son. That was the first time I was separated from my parents. Due to the irony of fate, my father had been classified ‘bourgeois,’ a pejorative designation given by the Russians for...


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