Transnistria (Трансністрія). An artificial name, meaning ‘beyond the Dnister River,’ for southwestern Ukraine that was introduced at the beginning of the 20th century by Romanian historians to bolster Romanian claims to the territory. In 1924 a part of Transnistria was assigned to the Moldavian Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic. During the Second World War Transnistria was an administrative territory that the Germans had placed temporarily under Romanian civil authority on 30 August 1941. It covered an area of 40,000 sq km between the Dnister River and the Boh River as far north as the Liadova River and the Riv River. It was divided into 13 counties (Mohyliv [see Mohyliv-Podilskyi], Tulchyn, Yampil [see Yampil (Vinnytsia oblast)], Rybnica, Balta, Dubosari, Ananiv, Kryve Ozero, Tyraspil, Ovidiopil, Berezivka, Odesa, and Ochakiv) and 65 volosts. Its population was 2.25 million. The governor of Transnistria was G. Alecsianu (1941–4); his capital was Tyraspil and then Odesa. He was subject to the Military-Civilian Cabinet for the Administration of Bessarabia, Bukovyna, and Transnistria, which came under the Romanian Council of Ministers. The administration of Transnistria was staffed with newcomers from Romania. Special Romanianization commissions, known as Directoratul de Romanizare, substituted Romanian place-names for the existing Ukrainian ones. The official languages were Romanian, German, and Russian. The Romanians treated Transnistria like a colony for economic exploitation. In late 1941 about 101,400 Jews from Bessarabia and Bukovyna were transported to Transnistria, where many of them perished. In April 1943, 3,000 Ukrainians were deported from Rybnica to Ochakiv county, and the villages were repopulated with Romanian colonists. In July 1943 the Romanian government deported 23,300 Roma from Romania to Transnistria, where almost half of them died.

In the schools (1,300 four-grade schools, 700 seven-grade, and a few secondary schools in 1943) the languages of instruction were Ukrainian, Romanian (10 percent), Russian, and German. In Odesa there were 12 Russian but only 1 Ukrainian lyceum. At the postsecondary (university) level the language of instruction was Russian. Ukrainian cultural activity was banned. At first the state farms and collective farms were left intact. In March 1942 they were reorganized into labor communes, which were divided into brigades of 20 to 30 families and were assigned 200–400 ha of land. Industrial or commercial concerns were handed over to officials or to Romanian state co-operatives. The Orthodox population was placed under the authority of the Romanian patriarchate in Bucharest, which set up the Romanian Orthodox Mission in Transnistria. It was headed by Archimandrite J. Scriban, Metropolitan V. Puiu (1942), and Bishop A. Nica (1943). Local priests of the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox church and the Tikhonites and Renovationists (see Renovationist church) of the Russian Orthodox church continued to be active. In all there were 12 monasteries and 300 to 400 churches, with 600 priests.

When the eastern front approached in early 1944, the administration of Transnistria was turned over to the Romanian military (Gen Potopianu) and then to the German military authorities. In March 1944 Transnistria was occupied by the Soviet Army.

Hillgruber, A. Hitler, König Carol, und Marschall Antonescu: Die deutsch-rumänischen Beziehungen, 1938–44 (Wiesbaden 1954)
Zhukovs'kyi, A. ‘Ukraïns'ki zemli pid rumuns'koiu okupatsiieiu v chasi Druhoï svitovoï viiny: Pivnichna Bukovyna, chastyna Basarabiï, i Transnistriia, 1941–1944,’ UI, nos 93–6 (1987)
Völkl, Ekkehard. Transnistrien und Odessa (1941–1944) (Regensburg 1996)

Arkadii Zhukovsky

[This article originally appeared in the Encyclopedia of Ukraine, vol. 5 (1993).]

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