September 11 means something else to Transylvanian Jews
Four years ago today the Jewish Architectual Heritage Foundation opened the Northern Transylvania Holocaust Memorial Museum in Simleul Silvaniei, Romania. The old synagogue of Simleul Silvaniei, in this historic region of Transylvania, was built in 1876 and now houses the museum. In May/June of 1944, the area’s Jewish population was forced out of their homes into the brutal Cehei ghetto and from there packed into cattle cars and transported to Auschwitz-Birkenau. Over 160,000 Jews from the region perished. A public dedication of the museum, attended by Holocaust survivors Elie Wiesel and Oliver Lustig, occured on September 11, 2005.
Hear the testimony of the Tchengar twins who were deported from Simleu Silvaniei to Auschwitz:
The twins are survivors of the infamous Dr. Mengele experiments. Another Auschwitz and Mengele twin survivor, Eva Kor, tells her story on the CANDLES Holocaust Memorial Musuem’s website, which she started in 1995.
Background on the Simleul Silvaniei-Cehei Ghetto
The Jews of Sãlaj County were concentrated in the Klein Brickyard of Cehei, in a marshy and muddy area about three miles from Simleul Silvaniei. At its peak, the ghetto held about 8,500 Jews. Among these were the Jews from the communities in the districts of Crasna, Cehu Silvaniei, Jibou, Simleul Silvaniei, Supuru de Jos, Tãsnad, and Zalãu. Since the brick-drying sheds were rather limited, many of the ghetto inhabitants were compelled to live under the open sky. The ghetto was guarded by a special unit of gendarmes from Budapest and operated under the command of Krasznai, one of the most
cruel ghetto commanders in Hungary.
As a result of tortures, poor feeding, and a totally inadequate water supply in the ghetto, the Jews of Salaj county arrived at Auschwitz in very poor condition, so that an unusually large percentage were selected for gassing immediately upon arrival. The deportations from Cehei were carried out in three transports between May 31 and June 6. (Credit, “Final Report” by the International Commission on the Holocaust in Romania, 2004, p. 270)