The Bistrița ghetto was one of the Nazi-era ghettos for European Jews during World War II. It was located outside the city of Bistrița (Hungarian: Beszterce) in Bistrița-Năsăud County, Transylvania, now part of Romania but administered as Beszterce-Naszód County by the Kingdom of Hungary from the 1940 Second Vienna Award's grant of Northern Transylvania until late 1944. It was active in the spring of 1944, following Operation Margarethe.
The ghetto was set up on the Stamboli farm some 5 km outside Bistrița; some 6,000 Jews from the city and its surrounding communities were crammed onto the farm. Nearly 2,500 of them came from Bistrița itself, with the rest being brought from the upper and lower Bistrița districts, as well as the Năsăud and Rodna districts.
Ghettoization was ordered by Bistrița mayor Norbert Kuales and his chief of police, Miklós Debreczeni. In other parts of the county, known as Beszterce-Naszód County while under Hungarian administration, the operation was carried out by László Smolenszki, assistant to the county prefect, and gendarmerie lieutenant-colonel Ernő Pasztai. Together with Adolf Eichmann's assistant László Endre, the four had taken part in a planning conference at Târgu Mureș on April 28. Kuales stole valuable objects from detainees, taking them with him when he resigned as mayor and left for Germany that summer.
The ghetto was inadequate for basic needs, with residents housed in barracks or pigsties. One Heinrich Smolka was tasked with supplying water and food, which for the most part he did very poorly. Among those who persecuted Jews alongside Smolka was Gusztáv Órendi, a Gestapo agent from Bistrița. Local police forces guarded the ghetto with 25 gendarmes from Dumitra, sent there by colonel Paksy-Kiss. Kálmán Borbély became county prefect on May 10. In two transports, on June 2 (3,106) and June 6 (2,875), 5,981 Bistrița Jews were deported to the Auschwitz concentration camp.
- (Romanian) "Ghettoes" at the Northern Transylvania Holocaust Memorial Museum site; accessed October 10, 2013
- (Romanian) Bianca Sara, "Mărturii despre convieţuirea românilor cu evreii şi saşii în 1940", Adevărul, August 27, 2013; accessed October 10, 2013
- "The Holocaust in Northern Transylvania" at the Yad Vashem site; accessed October 10, 2013