How Transnistria Was Added to the Map of Concentration Camps at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C.

Ruth Glasberg Gold

In June, 1996, I was invited to the “International Scholars' Conference on The Fate of Romanian and Ukrainian Jewry Under the Antonescu Regime” at the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington,D.C. and give a lecture on the topic of my book RUTH'S JOURNEY: A Survivor's Memoir, which recounts my experience as a child under that regime.      

After the conference, I was privileged to lay the wreath at the eternal flame in the Hall of Remembrance to honor the 300,000 victims who perished in Transnistria. While I felt very emotional about that honor, I was deeply saddened to notice that the name of TRANSNISTRIA was nowhere to be seen on the walls alongside the names of all the recognized concentration camps.       

After my presentation, I made a plea to the Research Institute to correct this oversight on behalf of both victims and survivors. I also took it upon myself to right an egregious wrong.

At that time, Walter Reich was the Director of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. I wrote him several letters but I received no answer. Once I succeeded in getting him on the phone. His first reaction was: “We can not put up the name of every little shtetl.”  And, “since Transnistria is not the name of a town, but a region so we might want to put up the name Odessa."

Needless to say that upset and infuriated me. It took quite some explaining on my part until Dr. Reich realized the meaning of Transnistria. Still, he was not willing to add the name to the wall with the other concentration camps.

At this point, I decided to initiate a worldwide petition drive to Transnistria survivors.  I wrote dozens of letters, made countless calls and forwarded 660 signed petitions to the U.S. Holocaust Council and Museum.

It took two years before my efforts were crowned with success; the Museum officially recognized that tragic chapter of the Holocaust

A year later the architect designed a plan to add the name TRANSNISTRIA to the panels listing concentration camps on the wall in the HALL of REMEMBRANCE.

Meanwhile, Dr. Reich has been replaced by Mrs. Sara Bloomfield, and in 1998 the project was finished. At this point I suggested to Mrs. Bloomfield that an official date for the unveiling ceremony should be scheduled and all Transnistria survivors invited to be present at this solemn moment for which we patiently waited and yearned for so many years.

Moreover, I thought it would be most appropriate that the unveiling be linked to the forthcoming visit of president, Constantinescu, the first Romanian President to acknowledge his country’s participation in the genocide of 300,000 Romanian Jews during the Holocaust. It would also be one more strike against the deniers in Romania and other countries.

Mrs. Bloomfield together with Mr. Martin Goldman, Director, Office of Survivor Affairs agreed, and invited all the survivors and their families to come to Washington D.C. on April 17&18, 1999 to pay tribute to the victims of the Holocaust in Romania. There were over 300 people in the audience.

The rest is history.

Ruth Glasberg Gold - 2011

 Speech given at the Unveiling Ceremony by Ruth Glasberg Gold April 18th 1999

Article in Die Stimme in German describing the Unveiling Ceremony

*For those interested, there are more documents concerning the recognition of Transnistria as a death camp available by emailing me at:

Photographs taken at the Unveiling Ceremony