Just 50 km from Cernauti, Ukraine, took place on Saturday the commemoration of the approx. 3,000 Romanians killed in 1941 by the Soviet troops. Hundreds of people arrived at the site to pay homage to the victims of the tragedy, bringing along the Romanian and Ukrainian national flags. 76 years have passed, but the pain is still alive for Romanians in the region.
Romanian Consul General in Cernauti, Eleonora Moldovan, underscored the event is being commemorated since 1991, since Ukraine has become independent and that common Romanian-Ukrainian memorials and prayers are conducted at the border.
In the locality of Fântâna Albă three thousand Romanians were executed because they wanted to flee to Romania from Northern Bukovina, occupied by the USSR.
3,000 Romanians from Bukovina (north-eastern Romania, part of it now in Ukraine) died on April 1, 1941, put down by the Russians’ machine guns. They wanted to leave the hostile territory occupied by the Red Army and return to the motherland, the Romanians paid with their lives and finally were thrown into mass graves.
In 1940, following the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, Romania was forced to cede northern Bukovina and Bessarabia to the Soviet Union. Approximately 3 million Romanians found themselves overnight in a foreign land. The territory was occupied by the Soviet Red Army which established a regime of terror in which Romanians were punished for the simple fact that they were part of the Romanian nation. Many of Bukovina residents found themselves separated from their families in Romania. Most Romanians under the Russian occupation had only one dream: to get back their families and to return home. 3,000 of them started on the road on April 1, 1941, the day of Easter to Romania, convinced that they could cross the border. They paid with their lives.
It is said that on April 1, 1941 the massacre was orchestrated by the Russians. Soviet agitators rumoured before Easter that the borders with Romania will open and Bukovina residents will be able to move freely to their motherland. About 3,000 Romanians from several villages in the Siret Valley left on Easter on foot, to the border. Dressed in white, lined with priests in front, carrying icons and flags they left for Romania, but stopped two kilometres from the border, in the town of Fântâna Albă, where the Soviets were waiting with the NKVD machine guns.