August 2009 Archives

Northern New Mexico Photos: Millicent Rogers Museum

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The Millicent Rogers Museum on the outskirts of Taos has outstanding collections of Native American and Hispanic artifacts, jewelry, weaving, religious items, and more. Here are a couple of sculptures on the outside of the museum.

Northern New Mexico Photos: Flowers

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(click to enlarge) An adobe wall makes a fine background for flowers.

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(click to enlarge) New Mexico wildflowers often are a splendid tangle.

Northern New Mexico Photos: Fences

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The New Mexico approach to fences is often pretty rudimentary: Find a bunch of (mostly straight) long sticks, push them together, and nail them upright. Seems to work.

Northern New Mexico Photos: Sunset

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From the patio of the Stakeout Grill and Bar outside Taos.

Northern New Mexico Photos: Penasco and Taos

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(click to enlarge) The front of Sugar Nymphs Bistro, an excellent breakfast and lunch place in Peñasco, New Mexico. The building also houses a theater which hosts circus performances.

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(click to enlarge) Taos, NM - Two's company, three's a crowd?

New Mexico Cemetery

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A little, overgrown graveyard in Truchas, New Mexico, on the way from Santa Fe to Taos.

Sandia Mountains Tree Skeletons (3)

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The last set of b&w photos of conifers along the highway to Sandia Crest.

Sandia Mountains Tree Skeletons (2)

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It's fun to return temporarily to the austere abstractions of black and white photography, after doing so much for so long in color. These images print really nicely, with deep blacks and good tonal range, on satin-surface paper.

Sandia Mountains Tree Skeletons

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Along the road (NM 536) to Sandia Crest. Sometimes black and white works best.

Tree Textures on the Survey Trail in the Sandias

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(click to enlarge) Tree bark

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(click to enlarge) Decaying fallen tree

The Sandia Mountains, on the eastern edge of Albuquerque, New Mexico, rise to over 10,000 feet. Hiking at that elevation, especially when it's hot in the city, is a good way to get cool and comfortable. The trails are dense with trees, but also with damaged and fallen trees. Fluctuating temperatures, high winds, and stony ground make it difficult to stay healthy and upright. The cycle of life is much in evidence.

Tree Bark

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On the Survey Trail in the Sandia Mountains east of Albuquerque

New Mexico Photos: Skyward Exuberance

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We're done with the Baltics for a while. Back to New Mexico. These are a couple of sculptures in the Uptown shopping district in Albuquerque. Big white clouds enhance any photo.

Jewish Cemetery in Pasvalys

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(click to enlarge) Birch trees outside the cemetery

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(click to enlarge) The only stone remaining in the cemetery

This is the cemetery where my wife thinks some of her ancestors are buried. Now it's just a mowed field, with virtually no headstones or other markers, typical of the way Jewish history in Lithuania is ignored, hidden, or forgotten.

Old Jewish Houses in Pasvalys, Lithuania (2)

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(click to enlarge) Bright green was a particularly popular paint color for these old houses. Why?

Old Jewish Houses in Pasvalys, Lithuania

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Pasvalys is a town in northern Lithuania near the Latvian border. Some of my wife's family came from there, but fortunately left around 1910 before pogroms and the Holocaust virtually obliterated the Jewish population. We went there to see whether there were any remnants of past Jewish settlement, and found some old buildings.

Click here to see my Blurb books.

Old Jewish Houses in Anyksciai, Lithuania

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Anyksciai is a small town In the northeast of Lithuania. According to Wikipedia, "it was a shtetl (typically a small town with a large Jewish population in pre-Holocaust Central and Eastern Europe) with a Jewish population of 2754 in 1900." Now it has a population of about 12,000, but very few Jews.

Partisan Forest near Vilnius

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(click to enlarge) Bunker in the Rundninkai Forest

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The Rundninkai Forest is about 40 km southwest of Vilnius. It was a forest where those who managed to escape the Vilna Ghetto hid and mounted guerilla attacks against the Nazis. For more information, see

According to my internet searches, other "partisan forests" in Lithuania were used as bases to attack the Soviet occupiers after WWII.

Jewish Places in Kalvarija, Lithuania

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(click to enlarge) Gravestones in untended Jewish cemetery

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(click to enlarge) House in old Jewish section

Ruins of a Synagogue in Kalvarija, Lithuania

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Kalvarija is a city in southwest Lithuania, near the Polish and Russian borders. Some of my wife's ancestors came from there. According to Wikipedia:

"In 1705 the first wooden church was built. In 1713, local Jews received permission from King August II to build a synagogue and Jewish craftsmen were first permitted to practice their crafts without having to be members of the craft guilds. In 1791 Stanisław August Poniatowski recognized that Kalvarija had the right to call itself a town and confirmed the municipality's coat of arms. Kalvarija developed rapidly when the new St. Petersburg-Warsaw road was constructed at the beginning of the 19th century. 1840 saw the construction of a new Catholic church, which still stands today. By the outbreak of World War I, Kalvarija had over 10,000 inhabitants; the destruction of two-thirds of the town during the war caused the population to decline."

Ruins of an Old Synagogue in Vilnius

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It's not certain that this was a synagogue; but the shape of the windows, and of a round section in back that would have held the Torah, suggest that it is. As so often in Lithuania, evidence of a Jewish past is obscured.

Choral Synagogue in Vilnius

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The Choral Synagogue in Vilnius is the only one (of approximately 100 before the war) to have survived the Holocaust, because it was used by the Nazis as a depot for medical supplies.

Click here to see my Blurb books.

Jewish Places in Vilnius

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(click to enlarge) Zydu Gavte, or Jewish Street, in the Vilnius Ghetto.

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(click to enlarge) The Center for Tolerance, a branch of the Vilna Gaon Jewish State Museum in Vilnius. This is an attractive museum in a modern style, with a wide range of historic and contemporary exhibits. For more details:

Holocaust Memorial at Paneriai (Ponar) near Vilnius

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More than 100,000 civilians, including 70,000 Jews, were killed here. The executioners included both Nazi Germans and their local sympathizers. According to the web site

"During World War II, the Nazis turned the Paneriai forest into mass killing site. Between 1941 and 1944, at least 100,000 innocent Vilnius civilians, prisoners of war, priests, partisans and underground fighters were killed here and buried into pits. Seventy thousand of those killed were Jews, who were systematically annihilated from the time the Germans arrived in Vilnius in 1941 up to 1944 when Soviet army drove out German troops. The territory of several kilometers has become a common grave for the people of different nationalities: Lithuanians, Russians, Poles and Jews.

"The first monument in Paneriai was erected in 1948, but in 1952 it was replaced by the new one. Probably, because of the fact, Jews on the first monument were mentioned among the victims of fascism. That was unacceptable in the country, where the policy of anti-Semitism was carried out. The second inscription was more "correct": "Here the Nazis shot over 100,000 Soviet people." Only in 1990, with the beginning of the Lithuanian Revival Movement, a new text in Hebrew was added."

Comments on the web site emphasize the difficulty in finding this memorial and understanding its significance, indicative of many Lithuanians' unwillingness to come to terms with this terrible episode from their past.

Jewish Cemetery on the Outskirts of Vilnius

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(click to enlarge) This was the only Jewish cemetery we saw in the Baltics that was intact and well-tended. A caretaker oversaw a database of those buried there.

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(click to enlarge) Unmarked graves of Holocaust victims

Bikerkieku Forest and Kaiserwald Concentration Camp

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(click to enlarge) Stones at memorial in Bikerkieku Forest, outside of Riga. The lanes between the stones are named with the cities from which prisoners were transported to the camp.

Friom the web site of the Jewish Community of Latvia:

"The biggest site of mass killing and burial of victims of Nazi terror in Latvia is located in Biķernieku Forest. From 1941 till 1944, 35,000 people, including Latvian and Western European Jews, Soviet war prisoners, and the Nazis' political adversaries, were killed here.
To date, 55 mass graves have been found in Biķernieku Forest.
The total number of Jewish victims lying in the mass graves of Biķernieku Forest is about 20,000. The first Jewish victims were several thousand men arrested in the first weeks of July, 1941 who were kept in the Central Prison and later brought to Biķernieku Forest to be shot. In 1942 about 12,000 Jews from Germany, Austria, and Czechoslovakia were shot here. In 1943, Riga Ghetto prisoners who were not transferred to the "Kaizerwald" concentration camp were killed here, followed in the autumn of 1944 by those "Kaizerwald" prisoners no longer able to work."

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(click to enlarge) Memorial outside Kaiserwald Concentration Camp

From Wikipedia:

"Kaiserwald was a Nazi German concentration camp near the Riga suburb of Mežaparks in Latvia.

Kaiserwald was built in March, 1943, during the period that the German army occupied Latvia. The first inmates of the camp were several hundred convicts from Germany.
Following the liquidation of the Riga, Liepaja and Daugavpils (Dvinsk) ghettos in June, 1943, the remainder of the Jews of Latvia, along with most of the survivors of the liquidation of the Vilna Ghetto, were deported to Kaiserwald.

In early 1944, a number of smaller camps around Riga were brought under the jurisdiction of the Kaiserwald camp.

Following the occupation of Hungary by the Germans, Hungarian Jews were sent to Kaiserwald, as were a number of Jews from Łódź, in Poland. By March 1944, there were 11,878 inmates in the camp and its subsidiaries, 6,182 males and 5,696 females, of whom only 95 were gentiles.

Use of the inmates
Unlike Auschwitz or Treblinka, Kaiserwald was not an extermination camp, and the inmates were put to work by large German companies, notably Allgemeine Elektrizitäts-Gesellschaft, which used a large number of female slaves from Kaiserwald in the production of electrical goods, like batteries.

On August 6, 1944, as the Red Army advanced westwards and entered Latvia, the Germans began to evacuate the inmates of Kaiserwald to Stutthof, in Poland. Those who were not thought to be able to survive the trip from Latvia to Poland were shot.
All Jews in Kaiserwald who had ever been convicted of any offense, no matter how minor, were executed just prior to the evacuation, as were all Jews under 18 or over 30. By September, 1944, all the inmates of Kaiserwald had been moved to Stutthof.
The Red Army liberated the camp on October 13, 1944."

Salaspils Concentration Camp Near Riga, Latvia

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(click to enlarge) Representation of the tallies prisoners marked on the wall to count the passing of the days.

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(click to enlarge) Soviet-era sculptures symbolizing the indominability of prisoners.

From Wikipedia:

"During World War II, the Nazis established Stalag-350-s, a camp for Soviet prisoners of war, in Salaspils. Two km outside of the city, in the nearby forest, the Nazi SS also established the largest civlian concentration camp in the Baltics. The exact numbers of those who died at Stalag-350-s is the subject of ongoing debate. According to a report compiled in 1944 by the Soviet authorities, 43,000 captured Red Army personnel were either killed or died from diseases and starvation there] Three other numbers have been mentioned in accounts published subsequently by Soviet historians. The history of the Latvian SSR printed in 1959 claims 56,000 people were killed. The Little Latvian Encyclopedia published in the 1970s claims 53,000 were killed." Other Soviet-era estimates were as high as 101,000.

Rumbula Forest - Holocaust Site in Latvia (2)

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Details from the memorial at Rumbala Forest. Each stone bears the name of a family whose members were murdered, and the interstices are filled with small red flowers, presumably symbolizing the blood of the victims.

Rumbula Forest - Holocaust Site in Latvia

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According to the web site ,

"Rumbula Forest, near Riga, Latvia, became the mass murder site and grave of 27,800 Jews from the Riga Ghetto on November 30 and December 8, 1941. ... Only 3 people who arrived at the Rumbula killing site escaped death. "

Old Jewish Section in Riga

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Two details of old houses in the former Jewish section of Riga, Latvia. I chose these for esthetics rather than socio-historical significance. There will be plenty of the latter in photos to come.

Buildings in the Old Jewish Section of Riga

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Jewish Sites in Riga, Latvia

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(click to enlarge) Ruins of the old Choral Synagogue in Riga

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(click to enlarge) Monument to the Latvian gentiles who helped Jews escape the holocaust

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