The weather in Bugeac Steppe is dry, but not the drought was the one that caused the tragedy of 1946-1947, said museographer Olga Trandafilova from Avdarma village of Gagauzia in which over 800 locals died after the then authorities decided to confiscate all the food from them. In a public debate hosted by IPN, the museographer of the village said that over 20% of the population in current Gagauzia died from hunger in 1946-1947.
She noted that historical facts show it was a famine in the region in 1902-1903, but no deaths were recorded due to dystrophy and famine then. Another serious hunger was witnessed in 1933, but no one died from starvation then. At that time, the Romanian authorities opened shops, canteens for the poorest sections of the population and made sure that the people went there together with their children.
“In 1946-1947, the tragedy didn’t bypass Avdarma. More than 800 died from famine in the village. The death of people didn’t stop the Soviet authorities from taking the meat and dairy products from people as tax in kind, even for 1944-1945. Representatives of the authorities, together with local activists, identified the places where people stored food and grain and confiscated these,” said the museographer.
She noted that the figure of those who died from hunger in Gagauzia in 1946-1947 is supposedly much higher, but the then authorities didn’t indicate the exact cause of death.
“There were issued death certificates stating dystrophy as the cause of death. Many were taken to mass graves in cemeteries without the death being registered. The famine of 1946-1947 caused the death of about 25-30% of the inhabitants of modern Gagauzia, which includes three towns and 23 villages,” said Olga Trandafilova.
To honor the memory of the victims of all the wars and repression, including the victims of the organized famine of 1946-1947, a memorial complex was inaugurated in Avdarma and the local museum includes a large section centering on his tragedy.
“A memorial in memory of locals who were victims of the war, typhus and famine was inaugurated in Avdarma in 2011. The names of persons who died during the famine were written on marble plates. Today the memorial is a place of sadness and pain. In 2017, the history museum of Avdarma staged a research contest on the occasion of the 70th anniversary of the famine of 1946-1947. The goal was to attract the young people’s attention to these tragic events. In 2022, there was published a collection of research works belonging to students. The presentation of the book about the famine of 1946-1947 was held in the museum of Avdarma. This book will be distributed to relatives of victims, to libraries and universities,” stated Olga Trandafilova.
The debate entitled “Organized famine of 1946-1947: victims, murderers, memory” was the tenth installment of IPN’s project “Impact of the Past on Confidence and Peace Building Processes” that is supported by the Hanns Seidel Foundation of Germany.