Sunday, May 20, 2012

Jerusalem Day, Celebrating the Reunification of Jerusalem 45 Years Ago
What happened during 19 years of Jordanian occupation?

Larsson's famous 1917 picture
 of the surrender of Jerusalem
to two British sergeants
Lewis Larsson was one of the founders of the American Colony's photographic department in Jerusalem in the early 20th century.  His historic photo of the surrender of Jerusalem to the British in 1917 is perhaps his most famous picture.

The American Colony closed some 30 years later. The photos were taken to California and eventually were donated to the Library of Congress. 
Imagine the surprise, therefore, when we discovered in the Library of Congress files color photos taken by Larsson in Jerusalem in the 1950s.

Larsson's photo of eastern Jerusalem during Jordan's occupation.
Taken from Mt. Olives. Note the Old City wall. (circa 1950)

Enlargement showing the Rothschild Building in black frame.
Almost all other buildings below it are rubble
The Old City of Jerusalem was captured by the Jordan Legion in 1948.  All Jewish inhabitants were expelled or taken as prisoners.  Great Jewish institutions in the Jewish Quarter, such as the Hurva Synagogue, the Porat Yosef Yeshiva, and the Tiferet Yisrael Synagogue were destroyed.  For the 19 years of Jordanian occupation, Jews were forbidden from visiting the Western Wall.

Larsson's photo shows the Jewish Quarter in rubble except for the Rothschild Building from the Beit HaMachseh compound. 

As a reference point, note the truck entering the Dung Gate. 
Jewish funeral at Rothschild Building

Hurva synagogue in ruins, 1948.  Jordanian soldier
holding a Torah scroll. (Wikipedia)

The IDF entering the Old City
through the Lions Gate, 1967
In June 1967, during the Six-Day War, the Jordanian army opened artillery and small-arms fire on the Jewish side of Jerusalem.  The Israeli army, engaged in a widescale war with Egypt on the Sinai front, rushed troops to Jerusalem.  Led by paratroopers, the Israeli soldiers captured the Old City and reunited Jerusalem. 

Within days, some of those paratroopers found themselves fighting against the Syrians on the Golan Heights.

Special film feature

We share with you a film made one month after the 1967 war by the late Dr. Martin Richter of Basel, Switzerland.  The film, showing scenes of Jerusalem, Hebron, Bethlehem and other locations, was edited by his son, Alexander Avidan and recently posted on YouTube.

1 comment:

  1. I posted the picture of the Jordanian soldier in Wikipedia.

    The picture was taken by John Roy Carlson for his 1949 book "Cairo to Damascus. I'm sure that you have a better scanner than I do.