Ghetto of Oradea (Bihor County)

The ghetto of Oradea was the largest in northern Transylvania and the second largest in Hungary. It consisted of two parts, located in different areas of the city: the first was located near the Great Orthodox Synagogue, accommodating about 27,000 local Jews; the second one was established around the Cazărmii Market, near the “Mezei” timber yard, where almost 8000 Jews from the surrounding areas of Oradea were transferred. The rounding up and transfer of the Jews to the ghettos began on 3 May 1944.

The ghetto that was intended for the local Jews was very crowded, with about 14-15 people housed in the same room. Most of the Jews in the ghetto near the “Mezei” timber yard remained outside, under the open sky, until their deportation. Escape attempts from the ghetto, which was surrounded by a two-metre-high fence, were punishable by shooting. In the ghetto there was also an investigative unit of the gendarmerie, located within the “Dreher-Haggenmacher” brewery (“Monetăria”). Under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Péterffy Jenő, interrogations took place here, accompanied by inhumane tortures (beatings with a belt or whip, tying and hanging from metal bars followed by beatings, electrification of the most sensitive parts of the body, the pumping of large quantities of liquids into the stomach).

The approximately 35,000 Jews from Oradea and its surrounding areas were deported to Auschwitz in 10 transports, with the Jews interned near the “Mezei” warehouse being transported in the first trainset. The dates of the deportation from Oradea were: 23 May 1944 (3110 people), 25 May 1944 (3148 people), 28 May 1944 (3227 people), 29 May 1944 (3186 people), 30 May 1944 (3187 people), 31 May 1944 (3059 people), 3 June 1944 (2972 people), 5 June 1944 (2527 people). The last train transporting the Jews of Oradea passed through the Košice railway station on 27 June 1944 (2819 people).