Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Israel Radio -- Kol Yisrael -- Commemorates 80 years of Broadcasting Today

We found in the Library of Congress a picture of the inaugural broadcast.
Library of Congress caption: Photograph shows radio engineer Moshe Rubin transmitting the special
broadcast during the opening of the Palestine Broadcasting Service, Ramallah, March 30, 1936

Monday, March 21, 2016

Purim Celebrated this Week

Tales of Disguise, Mirth and the Threat of Haman

This week Jews around the world celebrate the joyous holiday of Purim. The Purim holiday commemorates the victory of Queen Esther and Mordechai over the evil Haman of Persia, saving the lives of the Jewish people. 

Below are several Purim-related pictures we discovered in the archives of the Library of Congress.

This picture appeared in an American newspaper on April 1, 1865.  The wood engraving is captioned, "The Hebrew Purim Ball at the Academy of Music, March 14."  The picture contains a large sign, "Merry Purim," another sign listing the "Order of Dancing," and merrymakers wearing costumes and masks.

The picture was published in Frank Leslie's illustrated newspaper, printed in New York, NY. The Academy of Music was built in 1854 and was located in Manhattan at Irving Place and East 14th Street.
And in Tel Aviv --

Purim celebration in Tel Aviv (Library of Congress, 1934)

The Jews of Palestine used to celebrate heartily at the Purim Adloyada ["until they don't know"] festival and parade held in Tel Aviv in the 1920s and 30's.  Some commentators make a crude
The "Queen Esther" of the carnival
in 1934 (Library of Congress)
comparison to Marde Gras partying, but the merriment is based on an ancient rabbinic tradition of Jews imbibing on Purim to the point where they do not know the difference between sobriety and drunkenness, between Mordechai and Haman -- but without losing their wits.

But the threats to the Jewish people were also apparent to the photographers of the American Colony who photographed Purim celebrations in Tel Aviv in the early 1930s. They photographed parade floats showing the Nazi threats.
Purim parade in Tel Aviv with a float  of a dangerous 3-headed Nazi dragon
(Library of Congress 1934)

View Yaakov Gross' film of the Tel Aviv celebrations in the 1930s
here and visit his wonderful collection of films here.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Through the Enemy's Lens.
World War I Photos Taken by a Captured German Officer

Historical photos treasures are still waiting to be uncovered around the world.

A German officer photographed Be'er Sheva before its capture by Australian Light Horsemen in October 1917
(Mitchell Library, New South Wales State Library)
Presented here are photographs of World War I in Palestine that we found in the Australian New South Wales State Library. The photographs were taken by a German officer who was captured by Australian troops.  Details about the officer are not available, but his camera contained pictures from Nazareth in the north to Jerusalem, Hebron, Gaza, and Be'er Sheva in the south. The officer also took several gruesome pictures of a military hanging across the Jordan River in Salt.

Be'er Sheva before its capture (1917, Library of Congress)
The German and Austrian armies were allied with the Ottoman army in their attempt to force the British army from the Middle East.  German officers commanded the joint forces.  On the other side, the British army included forces from Australia, New Zealand, India, Hong Kong, and Jewish soldiers from Palestine -- all under a British commander.

In the north, the German officer took the picture below of the Turkish and German soldiers' muster at their Tiberias headquarters.

Turkish and German soldiers at muster in Turkish Tiberias headquarters.
(Mitchell Library, State Library of New South Wales)

He also took several pictures of the shoreline of the Sea of Galilee which can be viewed here.

In the Spring of 1917, the British army, traveling north from the Sinai Peninsula, attempted two frontal assaults on Turkish lines holding Gaza.  The results were disastrous for the Brits, and Gaza was left in ruins.  Compare the picture on the left by the German officer before the battle and the colored one on the right, taken by an Australian soldier. Both show the central mosque in Gaza.

Gaza before the British attacks, a photo from the German's camera
(Mitchell Library, State Library of New South Wales)

Australian Light Horsemen after the capture of Gaza, note the remains of the mosque.
(Hurley Collection, Mitchell Library, State Library of New South Wales)

Turkish infantrymen holding the line in Gaza, photo by German officer
(Mitchell Library, State Library of New South Wales)
The following pictures may be difficult for some viewers.

Photos by German officer of German soldiers "hanging
spies" in Salt, east of the Jordan River
(Mitchell Library, State Library of New South Wales)

Photos by German officer of German soldiers "hanging
spies" in Salt, east of the Jordan River
(Mitchell Library, State Library of New South Wales)

Caption: "Hangings outside Jaffa Gate, Jerusalem. Arabs, Armenians, Bedouins, Jews - official Turkish photo"

Click on photos to enlarge.
We thank librarians and archivists for preserving their photographic treasures by digitalizing them.