Tatarka common graves

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During World War II, Axis-allied Romanian troops occupying Transnistria claimed to have discovered in April–August 1943 a mass grave on a lot of 1,000 square meters in Tatarka, (at prezent named Prilimanskoe, in Ovidiopol Raion near Odessa. Allegedly, 42 separate common graves of several dozen bodies each were identified, containing ca. 3,500 bodies, of which 516 were exhumed, studied, and buried in cemetery before the region became a front line. The Romanians claimed that among the dead were persons arrested in the Moldavian ASSR in 1938-1940 and in Bessarabia and northern Bukovina in 1940-1941.[1][2]


From spring until June 1943, in Tatarka, in the Romanian occupied Transnistria, a group of specialists from Odessa (Dr. K. Shapochkin, deputy chief of the Medical-Sanitar Direction of the Government of Transnistria, N. I. Grubianu, the administrator of the disinfection section, docent I. I. Fidloveski, chief of medical-legal expertise and Grigore Tatarciuc, gendarme representative of the Odessa pretorial office) have searched a lot of land of 1000 sq meters, were a big number of bodies was allegedly found. At first, it was claimed these were victims of NKVD repressions from 1938–40, and of deportees from Besarabia and Northern Bukovina, shot by the Soviets because they could no longer transport them. In order to facilitate the putrefaction process, the lot was covered with animal excrement.

A Romanian intelligence report from 1 June 1943, signed by lieutenant-colonel Traian Borcescu states that "On the lot called Spolka, situated 7 km from the rail line Odessa-Ovidiopol, between the suburb Tatarka [of Odessa] and the airfield, common graves of NKVD victims were found. The works to uncover the bodies have started on 22 April 1943 and were done by the Military Pretorial Service of Odessa. [...] From the declaration of inhabitants in the vicinity of the lot, it follows that the NKVD troops were bringing corpses during the night in a covered track, and were throwing them into the common grave, and immediately covered. It also follows from these declarations that the road parallel to the lot was totally forbidden to circulation, and were severely garded."[3]

Investigators claimed that the executions have increased in pace after 1940, once Bessarabia and Bukovina were occupied.

"Ioan Halip, Grigore Tatarcu and Alexandru Ivanov, from Bessarabia and Bukovina, currently living in Odessa, have recognized at the place among the bodies their relatives deported by NKVD after the occupation."

"The Commission to examine the corpses and determining the circumstances in which the victims died has determined that the victims were generally shot in the back of the head from a very short distance. The age of the executions is estimated at 2-3 years, the clothes were characteristic to those of inhabitants of Bessarabia and Bukovina."

On 6 August 1943, the legal doctor Alexandru Birkle, a Romanian members of the commission that studied the remains found at Katyn, presented a "Provisional medico-legal report on the investigations at Tatarka". In his commission, there also were members C. Chirila, subdirector of Health in the Romanian Government of Transnistria; and one representative each from the mayor office of Odessa, from the Romanian Gendarms unit of Transnistria, and from the University of Odessa. According to the report, 42 common graves were discovered, and signs of 10-20 others. In each grave, around 80 corpses were found. A total of approximately 3,500 corpses lie in the 42 graves, and the total number is estimated at 5,000. Only 516 corpses were exhumed [so far], and of these 486 were already examined medico-legally with the following conclusions:

  • cause of death: shot in the upper back part of the skull, in a few cases, in the lower back part of the skull.
  • shots were delivered from military revolvers, caliber 7 mm and 5.5 mm from immediate distance to the target
  • medico-legal researches have demonstrated that the age of the corpses is 3.5–5 years. From the study of several identity papers found, it follows that some of the victims were from 4.5–5 years (1938)
  • no larvae of insects were found, showing that the executions took place in cold weather, and that the bodies were buried immediately after being shot
  • the process of putrefaction has been slowed due to a large number of corpses in a single place
  • of the 486 examined corpses, all had hands tied at their back, with the exception of one, which had only the trace of the tied hands
  • of the examined corpses, 7 were women and 479 were men, of which one was in military uniform
  • 43 corpses had identity papers (excerpts of reports from their arrests and searches), which allowed their identification
  • the ones identified were arrested on the territory controlled by USSR (including from 1940 on from Bessarabia and Northern Bukovina)
  • of 486, 385 were buried, 131 not yet
  • age: 20–30 years - 60; 30–40 years - 189; 40–50 years - 186; over 50 years - 81. 7 females and 509 males. 515 civilians and one military (by cloves)[4]


  1. ^ Victor Roncea, "Un Katyn românesc: Crimele uitate ale comunismului", Ziua, 30 December 2006
  2. ^ Tismaneanu a "omis" Katynul romanesc din Basarabia
  3. ^ Victor Roncea, "Un Katyn românesc: Crimele uitate ale comunismului", Ziua, 30 December 2006
  4. ^ Victor Roncea, "Un Katyn românesc: Crimele uitate ale comunismului", Ziua, 30 December 2006

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