As all over Eastern Europe, the Jews were once a thriving part of society. Many regions had large populations of Jews who left behind many beautiful synagogues (like the one here in Tigru Mures).
Sighetu Marmatiei, the historic capitol of Maramures, was one third Jewish before the Nazis marched them to extermination camps.
The man who coined the word 'Holocaust,' is Elie Wisel. Here in Sighetu is the house where he was born and lived until he was deported with his family at the age of 15.
He won the Nobel prize for literature for his novel Night about his father and his ordeal in the Nazi extermination camps.
There are several Wizels buried in the Sighetu Jewish cemetery. But as with most things Jewish in Northern Transylvania, there's no one left to tell us if these people are related to Elie.
One can go into the cemetery by asking the caretakers across the street. They expect to be tipped.
(Graves from the countryside, in Sirbi, Maramures.)
Inside the Jewish cemetery in Sighetu is a monument which according to the inscription contains bars of soap made from dead Jews.
One of the largest Hasidic Orthodox communities in the world is in Brooklyn, New York. They are called the Satmars, which is taken from the name of the village where their founding Rabbi was born: Satu Mare -- the next major city to the west of Sighet. That founding Rabbi and his family are buried in the Sighet graveyard.
The communists built monuments to the Holocaust as propaganda against Fascism. Once they'd destroyed all opposition through their terror camps, the monuments fell into disrepair.
In the countryside, locals still remember fellow villagers who were taken away. They tell the story of the day the Jews were all told to meet at the village school where they were taken to the trains.
(Scenes from the Jewish Cemetery in Sighet.)
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