Thursday, August 30, 2012

Another Mystery Picture: The Foreground and Background in This 1916 Picture Are Full of History

Photo from an album showing Turkish dignitaries leaving
the Old City on Saturday, February 26, 1916, heading
 toward Jaffa Road
The Library of Congress archives provide little information on this picture other than "Turkish officers of high rank visiting Jerusalem Parade" in 1917. 

A private album from the American Colony whose photographers took the picture provides a little more information: "Driving out of the Damascus Gate."  The picture was placed in the album amidst pictures of Enver Pasha, the Chief of Staff of the Ottoman army, who was visiting Jamal Pasha, the governor of Syria and Palestine.  The two men were part of the ruling "Young Turks." 
Enlargement of the picture. Note the dozens of ultra-Orthodox
Jews in the foreground wearing fur shtreimels and black hats,
usually reserved for the Sabbath and festivals.  Their wives may
be wearing the white kerchiefs, and fezzes were often worn
by Sephardi Jews

[For more on the two Pashas see "Did a German General Prevent the Massacre of the Jews of Eretz Yisrael in World War I?"]

Enver Pasha visited Jerusalem at the height of the war in the Sinai between the Ottoman/German forces and the British army, then based in Egypt and fighting to defend the Suez Canal.  Enver's visit took place on Saturday, February 26, 1916, according to the published diaries of a European diplomat in Jerusalem.  Enver visited the Mt. of Olives and the Dome of the Rock shrine in the Old City.  His lodgings were at the Hotel Kaminitz on Jaffa Road.  This picture was taken apparently when the two pashas were traveling between these landmarks.
Valero's shops torn down in 1937 by
the British to provide more "open space"
near Damascus Gate

Valero's shops being built circa 1900.The
 domes of the Hurva and Tifferet Yisrael
synagogues are on the horizon on the
left of the picture
And the street was full of observant Jews dressed in their Sabbath finery.

In the background of the picture are a row of Jewish-owned shops adjacent to the Damascus Gate built by a Jewish businessman in Jerusalem, Chaim Aharon Valero.  The shops were built around 1900 but torn down under British zoning regulations in 1937.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Why Did These British Forces Look So Bewildered?

Library of Congress caption: "Haifa, result of terrorist acts and
government measures. H.M.S. British marines and police in
control of Haifa streets during a case of incendiary." The soldiers
in white uniforms are Royal Marines, probably off of the H.M.S.
 Repulse which arrived in Haifa that month. (July 1938)
Last week we posted a "future feature" photo showing these British troops looking in every direction except up.  Where were they? What were they doing? Who were they?

Yesterday's feature on the Arab Revolt provides the answer.  They were patrolling the streets of Haifa.

Between 1936 and 1939 the Arab revolt struck at British, Jewish and even Arab targets across Palestine.  In cities with mixed populations -- Jerusalem, Haifa, Tel Aviv-Jaffa, for instance -- there were constant terrorist and retaliation attacks. 

In July 1938, the British published the Peel Commission Report, a government study examining the causes of the outbreak of violence in 1938.  The commission recommended partition of Palestine. The Arabs rejected the plan; the Jews' reaction was mixed.  But the level of violence in Palestine shot up.
H.M.S. Repulse in Haifa Bay with Mt.
Carmel in the background. The Repulse
mission included interdiction of gun-
runners. The ship was sunk during World
War II by Japanese aircraft in the Pacific.

A large Irgun bomb struck Haifa's Arab market in early July. Retaliation attacks and rioting were increasing. This picture of the British troops looking every which way shows the aftermath of an Arab "incendiary" attack in a Jewish Quarter in Haifa in July 1938.  Platoons of British marines were assigned policing duties in Haifa and areas of the Galilee.

The British brought in reinforcements and by 1939 crushed the Arab insurrection, often with very harsh measures.  But the Arabs won a more fateful victory. 

The British were cowered into promulgating the infamous 1939 "White Paper" which restricted Jewish immigration into Palestine -- precisely when the Nazi extermination machine began to roll.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

British Mandate's 1938 Annual Report Details the Arab Revolt; The Library of Congress Archives Provide the Full Picture

British military raid for arms at Jaffa Gate, Jerusalem, July 1938
The Arab Revolt in Palestine (1936-1939) was a full scale attack against the British Mandate, the Jewish community, and other Arabs who didn't support the radical leadership of Haj Amin el Husseini.  Details of the Arab revolt and the British counter-insurgency are recorded in the British Mandate's annual reports.

The photographers of the American Colony were not news photographers, but they recorded the violent and bloody events of the Arab attacks across Palestine.  Hundreds of these pictures can be found in the Library of Congress archives. 

We present below excerpts of the British Mandate's 1938 report matched for the first time with a selection of the relevant American Colony's pictures:

Trainload of British armored vehicles
from Egypt arrive in Lod (July 1938)
During 1938 public security in Palestine, particularly during the seven months from June onwards, continued to cause the administration grave preoccupation. An intensified campaign of murder, intimidation and sabotage persisted on lines similar to those followed by Arab law breakers in 1937; and, as in 1937, there were isolated incidents of Jewish reprisals. The main difference between the course of events in 1938 and that in 1937 lay in the gradual development during 1938 of Arab gang warfare on organized and to a certain extent co-ordinated lines.

Remains of burnt Jewish passenger bus
outside of Haifa  (July 1938). See a
 close-up view here
By the end of the year, as the result of the arrival in the autumn of large military reinforcements, this gang organization was first dislocated and finally reduced to comparative impotence in the field. But in the towns terrorism persisted and the roads were still largely unsafe for normal traffic. In fact, the events of 1938 succeeded in seriously affecting the economic and social life of the country to an extent far greater than was the case in 1937....
Oil pipeline sabotaged

In April there was also an increase in shooting incidents against police and military patrols and Jewish settlements; in cases of armed robbery in Arab villages and the sabotage and attempted sabotage of communications and Government property. For the first time for many months damage was done to Jewish groves and forests. Finally, the [Iraq-Haifa] oil pipe line was damaged on ten occasions....
Incendiary bomb in a Jewish quarter
of Haifa (July 1938). 
Click on pictures to enlarge.  Click on captions to view the originals.
Burned out building in Haifa Jewish
Quarter. Note niche for a mezuza
on the doorway -- marked in a circle

The month of July produced a series of major outrages which caused death to 100 Arabs and 27 Jews, and injury to 206 Arabs and 64 Jews.

The two worst incidents occurred in Haifa when bombs exploded in the Arab fruit market in the centre of the town on the 6th and the 25th of the month. The casualties were 74 Arabs killed and 129 wounded. On both occasions confusion followed the explosions and there ensued short periods of rioting and violence in which 10 Jews lost their lives and 27 were injured. Between these two outrages, also in Haifa on the 10th July, a bomb thrown at a Jewish bus killed one Jew and wounded 15 others; and in a street fracas on the 11th two Jews were killed and 14 Jews and one Arab were wounded....
"Result of terrorist acts... Russian police-
woman searching Jewish female for arms
at the Jaffa Gate" in Jerusalem (July 1938)
Military and police raid on Arabs for arms
at the Damascus Gate (September 1938)

Damage to telephone poles and wires

In Jerusalem there were three serious bombing incidents, two in the Old City when 13 Arabs were killed and 35 wounded and one outside the Jaffa Gate when five Arabs were killed and 25 wounded. In addition, isolated attacks within the municipal area resulted in several Arabs and Jews being killed and many more wounded.... 

During the month of August sabotage persisted on an enhanced scale. The damage to the telephone and telegraph system throughout the country was assessed at more than P.6,000, while six trains were derailed.
British soldiers retake the Old City,
pictured along the southern wall of the
city (October 1938)

The British army retakes the Old City of
Jerusalem. Machine gunner near the
Dome of the Rock mosque. (October

In September, the casualties among the British troops and police, Jews and Arabs (excluding bandits) reached the formidable total of 188 killed and 156 wounded. In addition, rebellious activities, probably encouraged by the crisis in Europe, were more widespread than in previous months. In almost daily encounters with the troops and police the bands are known to have suffered total casualties of at least 311 killed....

In October the Old City of Jerusalem, which had become the rallying point of a large number of bandits and from which acts of violence, murder and intimidation were being organized and perpetrated freely and with impunity, was fully re-occupied by the troops on the 19th of the month.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The Hebron Massacre, August 24, 1929.
Re-Posting Photos Discovered in the Library of Congress Archives

The destruction of the Avraham Avinu
Synagogue in Hebron in 1929  
On the eve of the anniversary of the Hebron massacre on August 24, we re-post these  photographs which we uncovered in the American Colony collection in the Library of Congress archives. 

Today’s leaders of the Hebron Jewish community told us last year that they had never seen the photos before. 

Click on the photos to enlarge. Click on the captions to see the originals.
Background to the Hebron massacre.  After the British army captured Palestine from the Turks in late 1917, the relationship between the British and the local Arab population was characterized by tension that sporadically erupted into insurrection over the next 30 years. 
A destroyed synagogue. Torah scrolls
strewn on the ground
Enlargement of scroll showing
Deuteronomy 1: 17
The Arabs of Palestine were led by the powerful Husseini clan who controlled the offices of the Mufti (religious leader) as well as the Mayor of Jerusalem.  For decades the clan had opposed European colonialism, the growing power of foreign consulates in Jerusalem, Christian and Jewish immigration and land purchases.  After the 1917 Balfour Declaration expressed support for “a national home for the Jewish people,” Husseini added “Zionists” to his enemies list.  The clan leveraged its power and threats of violence to win over Turkish and British overlords, to challenge the Hashemite King Abdullah, and to hold off competing clans such as the Nashashibi, Abu Ghosh, and Khalidi clans.

Jewish home plundered. Blood-stained floor
[Haj Amin el Husseini fled Palestine in 1937 to escape British jail and eventually found his way to Berlin where he assisted the Nazi war effort.  He died of natural causes in Beirut in 1974.]

On Yom Kippur 1928, Jews brought chairs and screens to prayers at the Western Wall. This purported change of the status quo was exploited by the Mufti, Haj Amin el Husseini, to launch a jihad against the Jews.  Husseini’s campaign continued and escalated after a Jewish demonstration at the Kotel on Tisha B’Av in August 1929.  Rumors spread that Jews had attacked Jerusalem mosques and massacred Muslims.  The fuse was lit for a major explosion. 

Synagogue desecrated
Starting on Friday, August 23, 1929 and lasting for a week, attacks by enraged Arab mobs were launched against Jews in the Old City in Jerusalem, in Jerusalem suburbs Sanhedria, Motza, Bayit Vegan, Ramat Rachel, in outlying Jewish communities, and in the Galilee town of Tzfat.  Small Jewish communities in Gaza, Ramla, Jenin, and Nablus had to be abandoned.

The attack in Hebron became a frenzied pogrom with the Arab mob stabbing, axing, decapitating and disemboweling 67 men, women and children.  At least 133 Jews were killed across Palestine. In 1931, there was a short-lived attempt to reestablish the Jewish community in Hebron, but within a few years it was abandoned until the Israel Defense Forces recaptured Hebron in 1967. 
The British indulged the Arabs and responded by limiting Jewish immigration and land purchases.
Large common grave of Jewish victims. Later the grave
was destroyed
Jewish home plundered

Today in Hebron: A recent Jewish service in the rebuilt
Avraham Avinu Synagogue (with permission of photographer)

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

What History Lies behind the Facade of the Mt. Zion Hotel in Jerusalem?

The Mt Zion Hotel in Jerusalem today (photo: Ron Peled)
The Mt. Zion Hotel is situated on the historic Hebron Road not far from Jerusalem's Old City walls.  The beautiful boutique hotel overlooks the Biblical Hinnom Valley.

One hundred years ago, the beds in the building were of a different sort -- hospital beds in the St. John Eye Hospital, part of the
"Most Venerable Order of the Hospital of Saint John of Jerusalem."  They established the Jerusalem opthalmic hospital in 1882. 

The hotel today, view from Old City
Wall. Tower behind the building is St.
Andrew's Church, built in 1930
"British Opthalmic Hospital" in 1918, after World War I
With the outbreak of World War I, the Turkish authorities used the building as a warehouse for explosives -- with a predictably tragic result. 

The shattered St John's hospital after explosion (1918). View more
pictures of the destruction here and here.  Notice the
Montefiore windmill in the background on the right
According to the British Military Governor in Palestine, Ronald Storrs, "the Turks had used it for an ammunition-dump and blown it up on the eve of their retreat [in December 1917]. Nothing seemed to happen as quick as one wanted, for it took the best part of a week to clear it of exploded and unexploded cartridges and to summon the expert advice of MacCallan from Cairo; and some months before the hospital could be rebuilt by the Order."
British General Allenby visiting the hospital (circa 1918) and here. He is entering what is the area of the main entrance to the hotel today

The hospital's Hebron Road entrance

In 1948, the hospital found itself on the front line between Israel and Jordan and relocated to the Old City.

The complex was renovated and converted to the Mt. Zion Hotel in 1986.

Click on the photos to enlarge.

Click on the captions to see the originals.


Monday, August 20, 2012

The Cliffs in Judea Overlooking Solomon's Pools --
Where Are Those Cliffs Today?

Solomon's Pools. The photo is dated between 1860 and 1880. No name is attributed to the photo. The photo and
handwritten caption are similar to photos by Felix Bonfils (1831-1885). The man in the photo may be the same as in
 this photo from the Western Wall, perhaps even a photo of Bonfils himself.

Solomon's Pools in a rare color photo (circa 1905)

The Cliffs. Original caption: "Solomon's Pools and ancient
aqueducts. Dam across Wadi Biyar al-Bir ed-Darraj"
(circa 1936)
The early photographers in the Holy Land were enchanted by "Solomon's Pools," an elaborate water system from the Maccabean or Roman times located between Bethlehem and Hebron that brought water all the way to the Temple in Jerusalem.
Dozens of pictures of the pools can be found in the Library of Congress archives, such as these photos.

The American Colony's photo collection (1898-1946) includes a picture of cliffs near Solomon's Pools. 
The cliffs beneath the Zayit neighborhood of Efrat

Here are pictures of the cliffs today.  They are situated beneath the northern tip of the town of Efrat and its Zayit neighborhood.  Efrat was established in 1983 and is located some eight miles south of Jerusalem.

 The cliffs today as viewed on Google Earth

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Jewish Shopkeepers in Jerusalem's Old City -- More than 100 Years Ago

The Getty Research Institute labels this picture
as a "Jeblanier jeuf  à  Jérusalem," taken in
1890 (sic). The Jewish merchant's profession is
a "ferbantier" -- a  tinsmith or "blecher" in
Yiddish. The photographer was taken by Felix
Bonfils who died in 1885. Bonfils has pictures of
Jerusalem going back to 1865. (Credit: Ken and
Jenny Jacobson  Orientalist Photography Collection, Getty)
A visitor to Jerusalem in the second half of the 1800s reported that the Jewish community represented half of the population with the rest Muslim, Christian and Armenian.

Several photographers at the time specifically chose Jewish subjects to photograph, particularly at the Western Wall or in the Jewish Quarter of the Old City. 

But in many cases, Jerusalem's Jews were simply passersby in the picture, or, as in a picture reproduced and enlarged below, owned shops that were part of the landscape.
Jaffa Gate The Library of Congress dates this
picture between 1898 and 1946. Based on the
 carriages outside the gate, the photo was
probably taken before the breaching of the
Jaffa Gate in 1898 and creation of a road.
 The American Colony's Elijah Meyers was a
photographer prior to the Colony's
photographic department's creation in 1898
and may have taken this picture.
Look at the shop adjacent to the gate in
the accompanying enlargement. 

Enlargement: The shop is a millinery store selling hats. The men
 inside and outside are Jewish merchants or customers. The
signs show hat models and a store name in Hebrew.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

The Jerusalem Windmill Will Soon Turn and Mill Again.
Built in 1857, It Operated for less than 20 Years

"View of building and windmill built by Sir Moses Montefiore."
 The negative was probably made by British Sergeant Henry
Phillips in May 1866 -- a period when the mill was operational.
 (Palestine Exploration Fund)
The Montefiore windmill is one of the most famous landmarks in Jerusalem.  Built in 1857 to provide employment and low-priced flour for Jerusalem's Jews, the mill was operational for only 18 years. 

The restored windmill today,
soon to be spinning and
grinding grain again

The windmill on the horizon in this 1899
photograph with a Yemenite Jew in
the foreground

Moses Montefiore bought the land and built the mill along with the adjacent Mishkenot Sha'ananim housing project (1860).  The philanthropist Montefiore copied the design of mills he had seen in his native England, a factor in the mill's eventual failure.  Replacement parts were not available, and, according to some historians, the grain of Palestine was harder to grind than European grain.  The location was not particularly windy and subsequent building in the area further blocked the wind.  Eventually steam-powered engines replaced the wind-powered mill.
The windmill viewed from the King
David Hotel (1938)

Scene at the Jerusalem train station
in the first movie filmed in the Holy Land
in 1896. See windmill on the left horizon
In a recent Ha'aretz article, Nir Hasson reported that "Arab millers tried to sabotage the venture by paying someone to cast a curse on it. S.Y. Agnon wrote of the affair in his book Only Yesterday: 'And the Arabs saw and were jealous. They hired an old man to curse the windmill. He turned his eyes to the windmill and said, I guarantee you that when the rains come and the winds come, they will make it into an everlasting ruin, and the rains came and the winds came and didn't do anything to it.'"
The blowing up of the sniper's nest
on top of the windmill in 1948

Over the next century, the windmill stood idle.  On the eve of the 1948 war, however, the British High Commissioner Alan Cunningham was leaving the nearby St. Andrews Church when he noticed that the Jewish Haganah had put a gun emplacement on the top of the windmill. Cunningham ordered the destruction of the position.  According to Jerusalem legend, the British sapper sent to blow up the mill recognized the name "Montefiore" on the building as the name of a school in England.  He only destroyed the sniper's nest.

In the last 40 years repairs have been made to maintain the building's structure, but no effort was made to restore the actual mill -- until now.  The Jerusalem Foundation, the Jerusalem Municipality, Dutch Friends of Israel, Israel's Ministry of Tourism and the Prime Minister's Office are sponsoring the restoration of the mill.  Once opened at the end of August, the mill will produce flour that will be made into bread and sold at the mill.  The mill will have backup electric motors when wind power is not sufficient.

Friday, August 10, 2012

The 'Kotel' Exposed with the Advent of Photography,
Old/New Photos of the Kotel Now Online in Great Detail --
With Thanks to the Library of Congress Archives

"Exterior of Haram-Ash-Sharif, Wailing place of the Jews" by Peter Bergheim
(1865).  The newly available photo allows us to explore details usually not seen
Bergheim established a photographic studio in the Christian Quarter. A
converted Jew, he was well aware of Jerusalem's holy sites.
A version of this article appears in the Jerusalem Post Magazine today.

The advent of ocean-going steamships and tourism to the Holy Land and the development of photography all went hand-in-hand in the latter half of the 19th century. Tourism encouraged photography and photographs encouraged tourists, explained photography curator Kathleen Stewart Howe, author of The Photographic Exploration of Palestine.

Enlargement shows memorial graffiti on the
Western Wall with the names “Eliyahu, Elka,
Sharf, Shaul”  The two figures may have been
models; indeed it is impossible to tell if the
 seated, veiled and gloved individual is a man
 or woman.
While the first people to look at Palestine through a lens were amateur photographers and missionaries in the 1840s, by the 1860s professional photographers began to visit holy sites and even establish photo studios. Military explorers and surveyors often used the services of the photographers.
The "wall of wailing" by Frank Mason Good. The Library of Congress dates the photo
as published in 1881. The authoritative Palestine Exploration Fund records that it was
taken by Good during his first trip to the Near East in 1866/67. Good's panoramic
picture of Jerusalem appears as the title photo of this website above.

Among the tourists were Mark Twain and his “Innocents Abroad” companions in 1867. His party stayed at the same Old City Mediterranean Hotel as a British survey team headed by Lt. Charles Warren.

The American Colony settlers who arrived in 1881 eventually established a tourist store inside the Jaffa Gate in the Old City where they sold their photographs. They capitalized on the fierce demand for pictures of the German emperor’s visit to Jerusalem in 1898.  

An enlargement shows an unusual piece of furniture in the picture. Muslim rulers didn't allow benches,
chairs, screens or other furniture.
On the stand appears to be a lantern or even a Sephardi Torah case.
Is there a man next to it pressed against the wall? Note the feet.

The Library of Congress archives contain not only the 22,000 photographs of Palestine by the American Colony photographers, but also pictures dating back to the 1860s by pioneering photographers Felix Bonfils, Peter Bergheim, Frank Good and others. The American Colony pictures were donated to the Library of Congress and classified as “public domain.”  Photographs of the Western Wall by the other photographers, some more than 130-year-old, were available to researchers within the Library, but never “made public” Online. 
"Wailing place of the Jews, Solomon's Wall," Jerusalem.  The
Library of Congress dates the picture in the 1890s and doesn't
name the photographer. But the name Bonfils can be seen in the
enlarged photo. Other similar photos in the Getty collection prove
that Frenchman Felix Bonfils was the photographer and that the
picture was taken in 1869. Bonfils died in 1885.

In response to our recent inquiries, the head of the Photo Research Division explained, “Our legal counsel has asked us to allow 130 years to elapse before displaying larger images outside Library of Congress. Based on the available information, I was able … to display outside Library of Congress buildings for some of the images you mention.”

These photographs are presented here and are now available to the public Online. The old glass plate photographic technique, rather than paper and film, provides viewers with an amazing enlargement capability.  

A similar Bonfils photo (Getty)

Enlargements from Bonfils photo

Click on pictures to enlarge.
Click on captions to view the Library of Congress originals with the option to use "Tiff" enlargement.

"Ashkenazi Jews" who may have
been models (1867)
In viewing these 145-year-old pictures, bear in mind that these are not the spontaneous snapshots of today. The pictures required long exposures and extensive set-up, Stewart Howe explained. Often the subjects were models dressed to play the role.

That was apparently the case of the seven “Ashkenazi Jews” photographed at the Mediterranean Hotel in the Old City in 1867 by a member of Lt. Charles Warren’s expedition team.

"Exterior of the Haram-Ash-Sharif. Wailing place of the Jews,"
by Peter Bergheim (1865). View a similar picture here
Enlargement of the worshippers

This collection of 19th century photographs presents a portrait of Jerusalem's Jewish community, a pious population who gathered at the retaining wall of Judaism's most sacred site. According to the 1871 visitor to Jerusalem William Seward, the American Secretary of State under Abraham Lincoln, the Jews comprised half of the city's population, the Muslims one-quarter, and the Christians and Armenians the remainder.