In the outskirts of Moldova’s capital Chisinau, is a massive Jewish cemetery that lies in ruins.
A little known fact, even for Moldovans living in Chisinau, is that a large Jewish cemetery can be found in the city. In the end of the 19th century there was a large Jewish community of about in Chisinau, accounting for nearly half of the Jewish population of Bessarabia. It was one of the most vibrant Jewish communities in the region. But that would all change. Tensions grew in the city and led to a small pogrom in 1903 that resulted in the tragic deaths of over 40 Jewish citizens.
The 1930s marked the peak of Jewish life in Moldova. They had been granted citizenship in 1918 when Romania took control over Bessarabia and there were numerous Jewish schools and hospitals in the city. Unfortunately after 1941, around 147,000 Jewish Moldovans were deported to concentration camps, with a staggering 90,000 perishing.
By the end of the 19th century there were around 25,000 graves at the cemetery but it all fell into despair after WWII, with many of the structures being destroyed by bombing. Today much of it is covered by thick vegetation and a number of the graves don’t seem to have been visited for decades.