Before the Second World War, most of present-day Moldova was part of the Romanian region of Bessarabia, while a slim strip of land east of the Dniester River was part of the Moldavian Autonomous Socialist Soviet Republic (ASSR) within Soviet Ukraine. According to the secret addenda to the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact in August 1939, Bessarabia was, among other regions, assigned to the Soviet zone of influence. On 28 June 1940, Romania was forced to hand over Bessarabia to the Soviet Union. The new Moldavian Socialist Soviet Republic within the USSR was formed on 2 August 1940 mostly from six counties of formerly Romanian Bessarabia and six raions (regions) of the former Moldavian ASSR. After the German attack on the Soviet Union on 22 June 1941, Germany's ally Romania regained its former region of Bessarabia and administered the territories between the Dniester and Bug rivers as Transnistria until the Red Army recaptured these territories on 24 August 1944. When the Soviet Union dissolved, the Republic of Moldova declared independence in 1991.

In 1940, the future Moldavian SSR had an estimated total population of 2,468,000 people. Some 270,000 to 280,000 of them were Jews. The Soviets deported about 8,000 Jews as “class-hostile elements” to remote areas of the USSR. When the German-Romanian invasion began in June 1941, Romanian troops and German units, especially Einsatzgruppe D, began with the mass extermination of the Moldavian Jews. While more than 40,000 Jews managed to escape or were evacuated to the East, the survivors of the fighting and executions west of the Dniester river were deported to Transnistria. Thousands died in the process or later on in transit camps. Once there, some were killed in mass shootings, but many more died from disease, hunger and overwork in the ghettos and camps. Most of the Jews in the Moldavian districts in Transnistria perished in a similar fashion. Some relief sent by Romanian Jewish aid organisations reached the survivors of the deportations after the Romanian dictator Antonescu stopped his policies of extermination in summer 1942. Overall, around 144,000 Jews from Moldova perished in the Holocaust.

Archival Situation

The State Archival Service is in charge of the State archival system. Parts of the former MVD (Ministry of Interior Affairs) and KGB Archives were transferred to the National Archive.

EHRI Research (Summary)

The entirety of Moldova's Holocaust-related collections is concentrated in the National Archive of the Republic of Moldova. They have yet to be described by EHRI. Outside of Moldova, however, EHRI was able to identify important Holocaust-relevant collections at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, which has numerous microfilmed records from the Moldova National Archives, war crimes investigation and trial records from the Republic of Moldova, as well as dozens of oral history interviews from Moldova. More Holocaust-relevant material on Moldova can also be found at Yad Vashem, which holds legal documentation from KGB archives in Moldavia and, to a lesser extent, at the State Archive of the Odessa Oblast in Ukraine.