Massacre of Fanta Alba ( White Fountain), in 1941
Because they wanted to return to their motherland, in April 1941, few thousands inhabitants of the Siret Valley Northern Bukovina, invaded by Russians, went to the border arbitrarily drawn by Stalin. But their way turned into an ordeal.
Hundreds of innocent people were killed in the massacre of Fantana Alba, a massacre that even today historians continue to ignore.
You will find out the story of these people prostrate with machine guns and then thrown into mass graves, sometimes even before being dead. Hundreds of people were killed and thousands of civilians, guilty of being born Romanians, suffered unimaginable reprisals for one single reason: they wanted to return to their motherland.
Dramatic moments occurred in the spring of 1941 in Northern Bukovina, territory taken by the USSR after Stalin’s deal with Hitler.
Thousands of Romanian families found themselves overnight in a foreign country and their attempt to repatriate was the pretext for mass killings and deportations.
Gheorghe Sidoreac is 89 years old. He is one of the few survivors who, in the spring of 1941, was there.
Gheorghe Holovati, another survivor of the massacre : ” You will go, you will go…Sir, you won’t let us go, you promised that you will let us go to Romania, we don’t want anything else, we just want to go live in the country where we were born. I am Romanian, we are Romanians, we were born under the tricolor flag. We want to go in Romania, to live there, to die there, we don’t want to die in another country, in USSR.”
Encouraged by some local soviet authorities, people have gathered again on April 1, with the same wish to go to Romania. But, their dream has turned into a tragic hoax.Thousands of locals, innocent civilians went to Suceveni, a locality near the border.
Ion Sucevean is a Professor of Geography in that village.Many Romanians died during Stalin’s persecution. ” Then, they returned to Suceveni because via Suceveni passed the road connecting Suceveni to Fantana Alba, there where was the border. The road connecting the villages of the Siret Valley to Radauti. They took crosses, icons and came to the Church of Suceveni. Here, yes, right here….here began their Golgota.”
In Suceveni, the morning of April 1, people went to a religious service then left towards Romania. An impressive procession. 3.000 – 4.000 peasants, most of them men, but also women, children and old people. They had white flags, icons. Two kilometers from the border, machine guns and mass graves were waiting for them. The father of Vasile Sucevean was at the forefront of the crowd with a big cross.
Vasile Sucevean, survivor of the Soviet Gulag: „My father, as soon as he took that cross from the church, went with all those people to the border.Now there is a forest there, but back then, when he was shot there was nothing there, empty land.And when our people arrived on that land, they opened fire. First they killed those in the front line.”
Gheorghe Holovati: „Flames were coming from everywhere…people were screaming -„oh, my God, oh, my God !”- Screamings and a hail of bullets.There was blood everywhere.Someone said -„Down on the ground!!!”… Some did, some ran…Someone was shot, someone else was like a fountain of blood coming out…One guy lost his bag with food, another one his coat… my coat was pierced by a bullet. My father kept looking for me, hugging me, trying to protect me…All he wanted was to save me even if they could have shot him.Some people thrown themselves to the ground…in vain…they shot them.”
Gunshots lasted all day and all night long.Hundreds of people were killed and injured.
Gheorghe Holovati: „At least 5.000 people.Half of them…I don’t know, never managed to get out of the forest so, where could they have been if not dead?! They kept shooting all night long;when I got home I could still hear gunshots.We escapep by miracle. We kept praying to God -” Please God, protect us!”- amd He did.Both of us, dad and I…”
In a telegram sent to Moscow, Nikita Sergeyevich Khrushchev, at that time general secretary of the Communist Party of Ukraine, triumphantly reported to Joseph Vissarionovich Stalin that no Romanian had crossed the border !
Hundreds of Romanians were thrown into the mass graves, some while still alive. The locals say that, for two days, blood reddened earth kept moving until they have all died.
Petro Christiuc says: „Mass graves? Somewhere over here, nobody knows where exactly…But somewhere in this place there was a big wooden cross and nearby some other little ones.And the graves were somewhere here also. They say that there were 3 mass graves.”
After the collapse of the Soviet Union, commemorative monuments were built.
Petro Christiuc: „I asked my father why…Then trees have grown and I used to come here for mushrooms, and my grandfather told me to leave this place because these mushrooms grow on human blood.Mushrooms were somewhat red. So, I kept wondering what had happend to this place.Later, in school, nobody spoke about those events, newspapers did not write about this.”
Just a few kilometers across the border there is Putna Monastery. Here is one of the first monuments comemorating those who died in Fantana Alba.
Father Dosoftei: „Even though they will not be canonized by the Church, God knows each and everyone.”