Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Some Great Answers to the Mystery Jerusalem Pictures taken on Passover Eve in 1917

Within minutes we started receiving answers from readers as far away as New Zealand suggesting the locations of these pictures of German soldiers marching down Jerusalem's streets during World War I.  Below are some of the answers, but we await pictures of how the streets look today today.

Marching on Good Friday/Passover Eve 1917
Marching on Good Friday/Passover Eve 1917

A reader named Simon sent this answer: 

The first picture is lower down Jaffa Road nearly at the Jaffa Gate: the building at the top left is the old Hotel Fast where the Jerusalem Pearl is today (with "Fast" just visible at the edge of the photo). Many of the same buildings are visible at http://cdn.loc.gov/service/pnp/matpc/20400/20457v.jpg  

The second picture is outside Jaffa 17 (note the number ١٧ in Arabic numerals near the top left), along what is now the light-rail line outside the Municipality complex at Kikar Safra. The same shop fronts, arched doorways and balconies are still visible in Google Street View, not much changed.  -- Simon 

Compare the features on these buildings in this picture from February 1941. (Library of Congress)
We actually planned to present this 1941 picture, similar to the one Simon mentioned, to show the buildings 24 years later.  It shows Australian soldiers greeting the Australian Prime Robert Menzies and the commander of the Australian troops in Australia, Lt. Gen. Thomas Blamey.

The "Matson Photo Service," shown in this picture, was a breakoff from the American Colony Photo Department, the creator of hundreds of pictures featured in this site. Some 20,000 of Eric Matson's photographs were donated to the Library of Congress where we discovered them.

* From Jane: Greetings from NZ, The first picture looks like Jaffa Road and the building on the horizon looks like it is on the intersection with King George V Street. So the children in the foreground would be passing where Ben Yehuda street starts. But as I don't have any photos in front of me, I couldn't be sure. I have forwarded these pictures to my Israeli friends to see if they can assist. Kind regards,  Jane, Manakau

* From Gil: The bottom photo is shot on the south side of Jaffa Road in front of the Armenian Block opposite the British-built city hall.  Chag sameach  -- Gil, Nachalat Shiva, Jerusalem 

* From Gideon:  I still have to figure out the location of the German procession, but you may notice at the bottom right of the second photo two boys in uniform, one of whom is dressed very similarly if not identically to the "British soldiers" that you pointed out in the recent "mystery photo." This reinforces my opinion that the uniform in question is not a military one at all, but one of many that were used in schools and colleges. The other boy is wearing another variety. Thanks again for the pictures which are an unending source of interest and pleasure. Hag Sameah, 

Monday, March 30, 2015

Where Did the German Army March in Jerusalem on Good Friday, 1917? Help Find these Locations

    Good Friday, April 6, 1917 was also Passover Eve.

The Jews of Jerusalem were destitute.  Money from foreign Jewish communities had been cut off because of the war.  Breadwinners were absent, many forcibly conscripted into the Turkish army or hiding from the army.  But Jewish families did their best to prepare for the Passover holiday.

A parade of soldiers and a military band from the German army marching down the middle of Jerusalem broke the routine and brought Jerusalemites into the street, especially the young boys.  These soldiers were on their way to church services in the Old City on their holy day before Easter.

German fife, drum and horns lead the soldiers to Good Friday prayers. Note the onlookers.
Where was the picture taken in Jerusalem? (UK Imperial War Museum)
The Germans were allies of the Turkish rulers of the land. They served as advisors, commanders, and pilots in the war against the British and their allies.

These photos were taken by an "official German photographer" and were found in the archives of the British Imperial War Museum.
Where was the picture taken in Jerusalem?  Note the onlookers and the children, probably Jewish because of their caps.
(UK Imperial War Museum)
We invite our readers to study the photographs recently digitized by the Ottoman Imperial Archives.  Exactly where did they take place?  Photograph the modern-day location and send it to israel.dailypix@gmail.com. 

Sunday, March 29, 2015

WW100: When Jerusalem Met Gallipoli 100 Years Ago; When Turks Met Jews on the Battlefield

World War I began in Europe in the summer of 1914 with major battles between the Central Powers of Germany and Austria-Hungary versus the Triple Alliance of the United Kingdom, France and Russia.  The Ottoman Empire (Turkey) joined with the Central Powers and attacked the British at the Suez Canal in January 1915.

In an attempt to put pressure on Germany and Turkey, Britain sent warships to the Dardanelle Straits in April 1915, planning sail up the narrow, 60-mile-long waterway to shell Constantinople and break through to the Black Sea to relieve German pressure on Russia.  Many of the ships were sunk or badly damaged by Turkish shore artillery and naval mines and the rest were forced to retreat. A subsequent amphibious landing of British, French, Australian and New Zealand troops at Gallipoli met with stiff resistance. A long eight month slug-fest ensued with an estimated 250,000 wounded and dead on both sides.

Ottoman soldiers departing Jerusalem through the Old City's Lions Gate in 1915. Destination: Gallipoli
(Ottoman Empire Archives)
We discovered the picture above in the newly digitized Ottoman Empire Archives with a caption explaining the Turkish troops were heading off to fight on Gallipoli.  The photo could explain the next two 1915 photos we found that were missing captions.

Was this picture of soldiers taken at the same time
 in front of the Al Aqsa Mosque?  The Lion's Gate is
very close to this location. (Ottoman Empire Archives)
This group of soldiers, also in front of the al-Aqsa
Mosque, is identified as having come from Medina
in the Arabian Peninsula. Was it taken before they
went to Gallipoli?  (Ottoman Empire Archives)

The Zion Mule Corps and Gallipoli

In The Zion Muleteers of Gallipoli, the author Martin Sugarman, wrote, "In March 1915 the Zion Mule Corps became the first regular Jewish fighting force to take active part in a war since the defeat of the Bar Kochba Revolt 2000 years ago. Some of its men later formed the core of what was to become the modern Israeli army."

The Jewish corps was formed in British-held Egypt and consisted of local Egyptian Jews, Jewish exiles from Turkish-ruled Palestine, and British officers.  Lieutenant-Colonel John Henry Patterson commanded the unit; officers included Zev Jabotinsky and Yosef Trumpledor who were expelled from Palestine.  View more on the Jewish unit here.

A British soldier leading his pack mule with supplies for the front on Gallipoli (Imperial War Museum)

John Henry Patterson
The new Corps, Sugarman related, "was officially designated a Colonial Corps of the Egyptian Expeditionary Force and was to include a maximum of 737 men.... They were allocated 20 horses for officers and NCOs and 750 pack mules."

The Corps' mission was to take supplies, such as water and ammunition, to the fighting forces at the Gallipoli front. Often they were under heavy Turkish fire and bombardment.

Sugarman revealed, "Their courage even reached the ears of the Turkish Commander in Palestine, Djemal Pasha, who was indignant that a unit of Palestinian Jews were fighting against the Turks in Gallipoli.  To placate the Turkish authorities" Sugarman continued, "the Jewish Community in Palestine proclaimed it wrong to fight for the British, and even organized a protest against them in Jerusalem."

The Gallipoli War was an utter failure for the British.  All British and ANZAC troops were withdrawn in December 1915. The disaster at Gallipoli stained the reputation of the First Lord of the Admiralty, Winston Churchill, who resigned from government.

But the Corps excited the Jewish world, and while the Zion Mule Corps was but a colonial, auxiliary, supposedly non-combat unit, it served as the inspiration and training ground for the Jewish Legion, Haganah, and the Israel Defense Forces.

Click on pictures to enlarge.  Click on captions to view the original pictures.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

WW100 - The Ottoman-German Attack on the Suez Canal -- 1915

The opening shot of World War I in the Middle East was fired along the Suez Canal when the German-led Ottoman army attacked British positions along the Suez Canal in January 1915.  The Canal was essential for keeping the ties open between Britain and its colonies, such as India.  In fact, Indian troops were stationed along the Canal when the attack began.

Over the next three years, the war would rage across the Sinai Peninsula, north to Gaza and Be'er Sheva, through Jerusalem and the Dead Sea area, and to Amman and Damascus.

The Ottoman Imperial Archives provides German illustrations and photograph of the Ottoman attack.  The photographs also show Turkish mobilization in Jerusalem, Be'er Sheva and the Sinai.
German painting of Bedouin fighters against English troops at the Suez Canal (Ottoman Imperial Archives)
Turkish Camel Corps in Be'er Sheva (Ottoman Imperial
Archives, 1915
German commander of the Suez attack,
Gen. Kress von Kressenstein (Library
of Congress

Turkish troops leaving Jerusalem, passing through the
Jaffa Gate (Ottoman Imperial Archives, 1914)

Druze prince from Lebanon mobilized for the
battle at the Suez Canal (Ottoman
Imperial Archives

Illustration of Turkish guns firing at British planes over
the Suez Canal (Ottoman Imperial Archives)

German captions: From the battle of our Turkish allies on the Suez Canal Turkish encampment in the Egyptian desert.
(Ottoman Imperial Archives)

Turkish artillery on the march to the Suez Canal (Ottoman Imperial Archives)

British and Indian troops in Suez Canal trenches (Q15566, Imperial War Museum - UK)

Click on pictures to enlarge, click on caption to view the original pictures.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Mystery about this Picture Deepens. Ottoman Imperial Archives Is also Mistaken

Two years ago we published this Library of Congress photo and the caption identifying it as a "Turkish procession," taken sometime between 1898 and 1918.

Caption 1. "Turkish procession," dated between 1898 and 1918 (Library of Congress)
Caption 2. "Ottoman Palestine in World War I (1914-1917)" (Facebook, Ottoman Imperial Archives)
Caption 3."Ottoman Palestine, Ottoman Soldiers" (Flickr, Ottoman Imperial Archives)

With the recent Online posting of pictures from the Ottoman Imperial Archives -- including this photograph -- we hoped that we could get some answers to the "who, what, where" questions. 

The mystery only got deeper.  

The procession is not Turkish and these are not Ottoman soldiers.

The people in the procession are most definitely Jews -- Sephardic, Haredim, and modern.  

The procession is not in Ottoman Palestine or dated between 1914-1917 or 1918.

The presence of at least one British soldier means that the photograph was taken after 1918 -- after the British captured Jerusalem in December 1917.  

The day was not a major Jewish holiday or Shabbat -- 

Some people were riding on horses or wagons, nor were the men wearing their Shabbat finery.

Perhaps they were going to or coming from a funeral -- 

There are very few women in the picture, in keeping with a Jerusalem custom at the time of women not attending funerals.

The picture contains 2 signs, including a sign post that could suggest where it was taken, but our graphics programs could not decipher the signs.

View some of the enlargements made from the photograph:

Jews in the procession

A British soldier 


Wednesday, March 11, 2015

"Tanburi Isak" -- a Jewish Turkish "Rock Star" 230 Years Ago -- From the Ottoman Imperial Archives

The Ottoman Imperial Archives does not identify Tanburi Isak as a Jew.  But, there's something about the portrait (photography did not exist in his day). Maybe it is his name Isak, maybe his beard, maybe his turban which is similar to the one still worn by Sephardi chief rabbis of Israel.  Research proved the hunch correct.

Tamburi/Tanburi İsak Efendi (1745-1814)
Isaac Fresco (İsak Fresko) Romano was born in the Ortaköy district of Istanbul in 1745. Known to Ottomans as Tamburi İsak Efendi because of  his mastery of the tambur, a bowed or plucked long-necked lute used in Ottoman court music, he was perhaps Turkey’s most famous composer of both Jewish synagogue songs and classical Turkish music. He also played the keman, a traditional Turkish violin. He became a teacher of the tambur in 1795, and the sultan at the time, Selim III, was his star pupil.
Listen to one of Tanburi Isak's works here.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Mystery Photo from the Ottoman Imperial Archives -- Why Were These Greek Jewish Girls Welcoming the Turkish Sultan?

The picture was taken in the port city of Thessaloniki, also known as Salonika. The Ottoman Archives provides this caption: Ottoman Saloniki, Visiting (sic) of Sultan Mehmed V, Jewish Students, 1911.

The brutal murder of almost 60,000 Saloniki Jews in Auschwitz by the Nazis in World War II after the invasion of Greece leaves many with the impression that the Saloniki Jews were of Greek origins. In fact, the vast majority of Saloniki's Jews were descendants of Spanish Jews who fled the Iberian Peninsula in 1492.  By 1519, the Jews were a majority of the town's population, and Saloniki Jews were a major economic force in the region, particularly Turkish-controlled areas. The Jews lived under Ottoman rule for centuries.

The surrender of Saloniki in 1912
The Ottomans surrendered their sovereignty over Saloniki in 1913 after losing to Greece, Serbia, Bulgaria and Montenegro in the First Balkan War. 

So, indeed, the Ottoman Sultan, Mehmed V, did visit the city in 1911 as his empire began to deteriorate around him.  The Jews of the city turned out to welcome him.

In recent weeks, the Ottoman Imperial Archives has posted thousands of illustrations and photos Online. We will continue to focus on these pictures.

The Sultan's carriage in the parade
The Sultan's carriage

A postcard commemorating the visit

Sunday, March 8, 2015

The Jewish Merchants of Turkey, Illustrations in the Ottoman Empire Archives

The Ottoman Archives include illustrations of a Jewish woman and man, labeled in French captions as merchants.

A Jewish woman reseller and a Jewish agent or broker. This picture appears in several European archives
and is dated circa 1820.  The word "Sensal" appears to be a combination of Persian/Arabic that entered
into European languages.

The woman stands in front of buildings with Islamic crescents and one building with a cross. Behind the man are ships, and in his hand is a document with what appears to be a Hebrew script.  At his feet appear to be cargo items.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

The Ottoman Empire Archives -- A New Source for the History of the Holy Land
The Istanbouli Synagogue in Jerusalem

We thank the Ottoman Empire Archives for digitizing their photographs and drawings.  We encourage all archivists and librarians to save their treasures and digitize them.

We recently posted rare photos from the Ottoman Archives showing the forced conscription of (apparently Jewish) residents and looting of Jerusalem homes by the Turkish army prior to World War I.  We present here an illustration found in the archives drawn almost 100 years earlier, prior to the invention of photography.

The Istanbouli Synagogue in Jerusalem (circa 1836, Ottoman Imperial Archives)
The illustration above appeared in the travelogue of a British writer, John Carne, who published Syria, The Holy Land, Asia Minor, &c. Illustrated in 1836  It is believed to show the Istanbouli Synagogue, established in Jerusalem's Old City in the 1760s by Turkish Jews.
In 1898, the Emperor of Germany visited Palestine.  The Jews of Jerusalem constructed a welcome arch to receive him.  Upon enlarging the photograph, we were surprised to see the curtains from various synagogues' Torah arks adorning the walls of the arch, including one with the name of the Istanbouli Synagogue embroidered on it.

The Jewish arch built for the German Emperor (1898)
See more on the Jews and the Emperor here
The curtain with the name
 "Istanbouli congregation"

The picture below, apparently of the Istanbouli Synagogue in the late 19th century, was found in the massive Keystone-Mast Collection at the University of California, Riverside.
 Inside a Jewish synagogue showing holy place and readers platform. Jerusalem.
(Keystone-Mast Collection, California Museum of Photography
at UCR ARTSblock, University of California, Riverside)
The Library of Congress archives contains newer pictures taken in the 1930s by the American Colony Photographic Department. 
Interior of the Istanbouli Synagogue, Jerusalem (Library of Congress, circa 1935)

Ancient Torah scrolls in the Istanbouli Synagogue (Library of Congress, circa 1935)