Saturday, June 30, 2012

Back Garden Ruined by Zeppelin

During WW1 several zeppelins were shot down over the UK. This provided 
Mrs. Lewis and family an opportunity for a nice group photo in September 1916 (The Nationaal Archief, The Hague).

next episode: a supercentenarian

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Olga and Alexandra Nikolaevna

Grand Duchesses Olga and Alexandra Nikolaevna by Christina Robertson, 1840 (Hermitage St. Petersburg) (cropped)

Last months I posted paintings by Christina Robertson of Alexandra and Olga Nikolaevna (Nikolaevna means daughter of Nicholas). Here we have a painting showing them both while making music. Notice the dog is also present again.

next episode: ?

Sunday, June 24, 2012

6th plate - whole case with a pushbutton latch

6th plate daguerreotype (±1850)

"Here are the precious rays of light that bounced off of them that one day, when they presented themselves as best as they could for an unforgiving camera, in the hope that they wouldn't be forgotten." (quote via

next episode: Olga & Alexandra

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Operation Deadlight

German U-boats surrender at Lisahally Port (near Derry), Northern Ireland, 24-25 May 1945
(Imperial War Museums, London)

Operation Deadlight was the code name for the demolishing of U-boats after the defeat of Germany in World War II.

Of the 154 U-boats surrendered, 121 were scuttled in deep water near Northern Ireland and Scotland. On 12 February 1946 the U-3514 was the last U-boat sunk by Operation Deadlight. The other 33 were used for various tasks and then sunk. For instance the U-1105, which sank in an explosives trial in the Potomac in 1948.

Several U-boats escaped Operation Deadlight. Some were claimed as prizes by Britain, France, Norway and the Soviet Union. A few ended up in museums.

52 surrendered U-boats moored at Lisahally, (Imperial War Museums, London)

next episode: dag

Monday, June 18, 2012

Waterloo Day! - Wexy the Horse

Wexy on the move for an exhibition in 2005 (source)

Today is Waterloo Day. Sadly, the battle off Waterloo is no longer commemorated in The Netherlands.

During the battle the son of the future Dutch king, Willem, was slightly wounded by a gun shot. His horse Wexy was fatally wounded. However, Wexy is still in our midst, he has been stuffed and now resides in the Royal Stables in The Hague.

Unfortunately our Queen likes to maintain her privacy so the stables are closed for public.

At Waterloo, the location is marked by a monumental mound.

Wexy, now over 200 years old
next episode: U-boats

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Willkommen in Nazi occupied Zhytomyr (Ukraine)

German soldier regulating the traffic in occupied Zhytomyr
German soldier regulating the traffic near a grocery store (гастроном) in occupied Zhytomyr 

Zhytomyr (Russian: Zhytomir, Dutch: Zjytomyr, German: Schytomyr) is a city in the Ukraine (I still like to use 'the' in front of 'Ukraine'). Population: 277,900 (in 2005). From 1991, the city has been part of the independent Ukraine. In the past it has been controlled by Russians, Mongols, Lithuanians, Poles and Germans.

From July 1941 until December 1943 Zhytomyr was occupied by Nazi Germany. Due to the fertile grounds and the local minority of about 10.000 Volhynian Germans the sparsely populated Zhytomyr district ('bezirk') was envisioned by Nazi leaders as a future Aryan stronghold consisting of German agricultural colonies, SS-estates, and defense fortifications. The region was the location of Heinrich Himmler's Ukrainian headquarters, and it became a laboratory for Himmler's resettlement activists (source: Wendy Lower).

In 1939 there were about 266,000 Jews residing in the region. There were many Jewish shtetl communities in the area, and the nearby town of Berdychiv, a center of Hasidism, was known as little Jerusalem. By 1997, about 5,500 Jews lived in Zhytomyr (source).

Many websites claim that this photo shows a scene in Kharkov. After a long search using google translator (which could use an update) I can now state that this photo has been taken at the corner of Berdichev Street and Michael Street in Zhytomyr. Here is a picture of the present situation:

Zhytomyr: the same corner, present situation (photo: Sergey Reent)

next episode: Waterloo Day

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Danish Artists in Rome

A Group of Danish Artists in Rome (Constantin Hansen, 1837)

A group of Danish artists gathered in a room in Rome discussing art. The architect Gottlieb Bindesbøll (with fez) is telling about his recent travels in Greece, a country that was unfamiliar territory to most Europeans due to the many years of Turkish occupation. The other artists (and the dog) listen with varying degrees of interest.

Constantin Hansen (1804-1880) was very ambitious when painting this picture. He prepared the painting carefully, painting studies of each participant, and he had his fellow artist Albert Küchler (visible at the painting third from the right) paint a study of himself (Constantin Hansen is sitting on the chair on the left).

next episode: ?

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Amersfoort Day!

 Map by Joan Blaeu, 1649 (click for enlargement)

Amersfoort gained its city rights at June 12, 1259. The charter stated the right to have a market, propose taxes and to build a city wall.

Aerial photo, 1924 (click for enlargement)

Not much has changed in 1924. Except the church next to the tower ('The Tower of Our Lady') has disappeared; when the protestants took over they used the church as an ammunition depot. In 1787 somebody wasn't careful enough and the whole building exploded.

Nowadays all the farmland has been built up with houses (lucky for me; I live near the sharp corner in the road to the north).

Google Maps, 2012

next episode: ?

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Princess Tatiana Day !

Tatiana and her mother in 1913.

 Tatiana Romanov (June 10, 1897 - July 17, 1918)

Today is the birthday of Grand Duchess Tatiana Nikolaevna Romanova. She was the second of four daughters (Olga,Tatiana, Matia, Anastasia) of the last tsar of Russia, Nicholas II, and his wife tsaritsa Alexandra. Her middle name Nikolaevna means daughter of Nicholas.  Since both Olga and Tatiana are heroines in Eugene Onegin, a classic poem by Alexander Pushkin, it's probable that they are named after those characters.

Tatiana was only 21 when she was murdered, along with her family, on July 17, 1918, at the Ipatiev House in Yekaterinburg.

Letters of Tatiana from exile

next episode: city birthday

Friday, June 8, 2012

Wroclaw - Breslau

Wroclaw Market Square (photo: Grzybson88)  
Wrocław (German: Breslau), situated on the Oder river, is the largest city in western Poland (630,000 inhabitants in 2010). It started as a Bohemian town and was later incorporated in the Austrian Empire. Prussia conquered the city during the word wide War of the Austrian Succession (in the US better known as King George's War) in the 1740s. The city became the capital of the province of Silesia.

Wroclaw 1562

In 1806-1807 the city was temporarily occupied by the French troops of Napoleon's youngest brother Jerome. He decided to level the city walls. By the end of the 19th century it was the third largest German city (behind Berlin and Hamburg).

Breslau didn't suffer much until the end of WWII. Hitler declared the city a fortress to be held at all costs. The population was forced to evacuate, and a large area of the city center was demolished and turned into an airfield. After a siege of nearly three months Breslau was the last major German city to surrender, one day before the end of the war in Europe.

During the Potsdam Conference the Western Allies proposed to grant Germany half Silesia, Breslau included, but the Soviets insisted the border to be drawn farther west.

Nearly all Germans were expelled from the city and replaced by Poles who for a large part were forcefully deported from Polish lands annexed by the Soviets in the east, many of whom came from Lviv.

After the war the city's historical monuments have been carefully rebuilt.

Ostrów Tumski (Cathedral Island) is the oldest part of the city. It is located between branches of the Oder River (source+more pics: Grzybson88)

next episode: Tatiana

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Lviv - Lwów - Lemberg

 Lviv Panorama

Lviv (Polish: Lwów, German: Lemberg) is a city in western Ukraine. Population: 760,000 (2010). The city is one of the most important centers of Ukrainian cultural, economic and political life and is noted for its beautiful and diverse architecture. The historical city center has survived WWII and the following Soviet era and is included on the UNESCO World Heritage List.

Rynok Square (source + more pics)

Lviv was part by the Austrian Empire from 1772 until 1918; under the name Lemberg it functioned as the capital of the Kingdom of Galicia. Compared to the Russian and German Empires the Austrians granted their inhabitants relatively much freedom, resulting in the town developing into a main cultural center for the Poles and the Ukrainians. Lemberg was also a major center of Jewish culture, in particular as a center of the Yiddish language.

The old city wall

After the collapse of Austria-Hungaria Lwow became a part of Poland. In 1939 the Russians occupied the city, and between July 1941 and July 1944 Lemberg was under German occupation. In 1941 there were over 200,000 Jewish people living in the city (refugees included), from whom only 300 survived.

After WWII  Lviv was allocated to the USSR. Most of the Poles living in Lviv were resettled into Polish territories annexed from Germany, especially in Wroclaw (former Breslau). Since the collapse of the USSR in 1991 the city is a part of the Ukraine.

next episode: Wroclaw

Sunday, June 3, 2012

The Lost Kingdom of Galicia

The Kingdom of Galicia (Galizien)

The Kingdom of Galicia was part of the the large multinational empire of Austria-Hungary, from which it became a part after the partitioning of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth in 1776.

The Empire of Austria-Hungary
(Galicia in the upper right corner in light yellow)

West & East Galicia

The capital was Lemberg (present day Lviv). The western part was mainly inhabited by Poles, and the eastern part by Ukrainians. Proposals to split Galicia between these two populations were never carried out.

In 1918, after WWI, the empire fell apart and independent states like Austria, Tsechoslowakia, Yugoslavia and Hungary arose. Galicia experienced less luck. Western Galicia became a part of the restored Republic of Poland. In the east the local Ukrainian population declared independence as the 'Western Ukrainian People's Republic' but they were annexed by Poland after the Polish-Ukraine War in 1919.
The Western Ukrainian People's Republic (1918-1919)

After WWII this area became part of the USSR, and since 1991 it is part of the Ukraine. The historical difference between West and East Ukraine explains their lingering political troubles.

next episode: Lemberg


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