From Liepaja to Riga


At the beach


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Art Nouveau architecture in Liepāja.
Art Nouveau architecture in Liepāja.
Flag of Liepāja
Coat of arms of Liepāja
Coat of arms
Location of Liepāja within Latvia
Location of Liepāja within Latvia

Liepāja (pronounced [liepaːja] ( )); GermanLibauPolishLipawa), is a city in western Latvia, located on the Baltic Sea directly at 21°E. It is the largest city in the Kurzeme Region and the third largest city in the country after Riga andDaugavpils. An important ice-free port, as of 1 July 2011, Liepāja had a population of 75,000.

Liepāja is known throughout Latvia as “The city where the wind is born”, likely because of the constant sea breeze. A song of the same name (Latvian“Pilsētā, kurā piedzimst vējš”) was composed by Imants Kalniņš and has become the anthem of the city. Its reputation of Liepāja as the windiest city in Latvia was strengthened with the construction nearby of the largest wind power plant in the nation (33 Enercon wind turbines).

The Coat of Arms of Liepāja was adopted four days after the jurisdiction gained city rights on 18 March 1625.[1] These are described as: “on a silver background, the lion of Courland with a divided tail, who leans upon a linden (LatvianLiepa) tree with its forelegs.” The flag of Liepāja has the coat of arms in the center, with red in the top half and green in the bottom.[1]


 Jewish Community Centre & Museum


Other Jewish buildings


Holocaust Memorials & Cemetery

The Market

Liepāja massacres

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Liepāja massacres

Members of the 21st Latvian Police Battalionassemble a group of Jewish women for murder on a beach near Liepāja, December 15, 1941.
Also known as Libau, Šķēde, Shkeede, Skeden
Location LiepājaLatvia and vicinity, including PriekuleAizpute, andGrobiņa
Incident type Imprisonment, mass shootings, forced labor
Perpetrators Viktors ArājsPēteris GaliņšFritz DietrichErhard GrauelWolfgang KüglerHans KawelmacherKarl-Emil Strott
Organizations KriegsmarineEinsatzgruppen,OrdnungspolizeiWehrmachtArajs KommandoLatvian Auxiliary Police
Victims About 5,000 Jews. Lesser numbers of Gypsies, communists and the mentally ill were also killed.
Memorials At Šķēde, Liepāja Central Cemetery

The Liepāja massacres were a series of mass executions, many in public or semi-public, in and near the city of Liepāja (German: Libau), on the west coast of Latvia in 1941 after the Nazi occupation of Latvia. The main perpetrators were detachments of the Einsatzgruppen, the Sicherheitsdienst or SD, the Ordnungspolizei, or ORPO, and Latvian auxiliary police and militia forcesWehrmacht and German naval forces participated in the shootings.[1] In addition to Jews, the Nazis and their Latvian collaborators also killed Gypsies, communists, the mentally ill[1] and so-called “hostages”.[2] In contrast to most other Holocaust murders in Latvia, the killings at Liepāja were done in open places.[3] About 5,000 of the 5,700 Jews trapped in Liepāja were shot, most of them in 1941.[2] The killings occurred at a variety of places within and outside of the city, including Rainis Park in the city center, and areas near the harbor, the Olympic Stadium, and the lighthouse. The largest massacre, of 2731 Jews, and 23 communists, happened from December 15 to 17, 1941, in the dunes near Šķēde, on an old Latvian army training ground.[2] More is known about the killing of the Jews of Liepāja than in any other city in Latvia except for Riga.[4]

  Skede Memorial


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
St. John Lutheran church in Aizpute built in 1253
St. John Lutheran church in Aizpute built in 1253
Coat of arms of Aizpute
Coat of arms

Aizpute (GermanHasenpoth) is a town in western Latvia‘s Aizpute municipality in the valley of Tebra River, 50 km (31 mi) northeast of Liepāja.


Territory of modern Aizpute was inhabited by ancient Curonians since 9th century. St. John Lutheran church has been built on the curonian hillfort. In 13th century during Livonian crusade territory of Aizpute was conquered by German crusaders. Already in 1248 master of the Livonian Order Dietrich von Grüningen ordered building of stone castle in Aizpute. Castle and whole settlement became known as Hasenpoth. After partition of Courland in 1253 Aizpute became part of Bishopric of Courland. In 1260 Aizpute church is built. Bishop of Courland Otto granted Magdeburg rights to Aizpute in 1378.

In the second half of the 16th century Aizpute experienced rapid development because Tebra river was used as main trade route for merchants of Aizpute who shipped their cargo down to the sea. After the Polish-Swedish war all trade and shipping infrastructure was destroyed and Aizpute started to experience decline. During 1611-1795 it was under the power of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth as a capital of the semi-autonomous Powiat Piltynski (District ofPiltene).

In 1795 Aizpute and whole of Courland was incorporated into Russian Empire and became part of Courland Governorate. During Russian revolution of 1905 Aizpute was one of the places where local revolutionists showed armed resistance to Cossack punitive units. It led to the so-called Aizpute War.

During Republic of Latvia Aizpute became centre of a district but in the Soviet period it lost its position and became part of Liepāja district. Since 2009 Aizpute is a centre of Aizpute municipality.

Its current name is the Lettization of the German one and is officially in use since 1917.




Artists in Residencies

Main activities involve the exchange between culture, science and education, including the organisation of residencies, workshops, seminars, lectures, presentations and other activities.

I met the delightful Signe Pucena who runs Serde with her husband, Ugis. Their daughter is Trine.

 A Notebook of Traditions

Narratives about the Jews of Aizpute

The cover and some images – you can order from Serde

The Jewish Cemetery

On the road to Riga

Riga by Night

From the Curonian Spit to Palanga

Overnight in Klaipeda and then on the car ferry to the Curonian Spit.

The picturesque drive to Juodkrante and Nida

Thanks to Robin Michaelson of London for suggesting I visit this area.

Essential are a smartphone i.e. iPhone, GPS and Google Maps.

My Google Map


Curonian Spit

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
  (Redirected from Curonian spit)
UNESCO World Heritage Site
Curonian Spit
Name as inscribed on the World Heritage List
Pilkosios kopos1.jpg
Type Cultural
Criteria v
Reference 994
UNESCO region Europe and North America
Inscription history
Inscription 2000 (24th Session)

The Curonian Spit (LithuanianKuršių nerijaRussianКуршская косаGermanKurische NehrungLatvianKuršu kāpas) is a 98 km long, thin, curved sand-dune spit that separates the Curonian Lagoon from the Baltic Sea coast. Its southern portion lies within Kaliningrad OblastRussia and its northern within southwestern Lithuania. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site shared by the two countries.



The Lutheran Church in Nida. Axel’s Hebrew is better than mine!

The Thomas Mann House in Nida

Thomas Mann

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Thomas Mann
Thomas Mann 1937.jpg

Mann in 1937
Born Paul Thomas Mann
6 June 1875
Free City of LübeckGerman Empire
Died 12 August 1955 (aged 80)
Zürich, Switzerland
Occupation Novelist, short story writer, essayist
Period 1896–1954
Genres Novel, novella
Notable work(s) BuddenbrooksThe Magic MountainDeath in Venice,Joseph and his Brothers
Notable award(s) Nobel Prize in Literature (1929)
Goethe Prize (1949)


Paul Thomas Mann ([paʊ̯l toːmas man]; 6 June 1875 – 12 August 1955) was a German novelist, short story writer, social critic, philanthropist, essayist and 1929 Nobel laureate. His highly symbolic and ironic epic novels and novellas are noted for their insight into the psychology of the artist and the intellectual. His analysis and critique of the European and German soul used modernized German and Biblical stories, as well as the ideas of GoetheNietzsche and Schopenhauer. Mann was a member of the Hanseatic Mann family and portrayed his family and class in the novel Buddenbrooks. His older brother was the radical writer Heinrich Mann and three of his six children, Erika MannKlaus Mann and Golo Mann, also became important German writers. When Hitler came to power in 1933, Mann fled to Switzerland. When World War II broke out in 1939, he emigrated to the United States, returning to Switzerland in 1952. Thomas Mann is one of the best-known exponents of the so-called Exilliteratur.


Nagliu Gamtos Sand Dunes

One can see the mainland and the Baltic sea from same spot

With Trisha


Hill of Witches

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

One of the wooden sculptures in the park

The Hill of Witches (Lithuanian: Raganų Kalnas) is an outdoor sculpture gallery near JuodkrantėLithuania.

It is located on a forested sand dune about 0.5 kilometer west of the Curonian Lagoon, on the Lithuanian Seaside Cycle Route. Begun in 1979, it has been expanded several times, and now contains about 80 wooden sculptures along a series of trails. The artists drew on a long tradition of woodcarving in Samogitia, and on the equally long tradition of Midsummer Night’s Eve (Joninės) celebrations on the hill. The pieces depict characters from Lithuanian folklore and pagan traditions.

Woodcarving symposia are held at the park on a regular basis, and new works are added. Admission is free.

The Car Ferry back to the mainland.

Visit to the Jewish Centre and Cemetery in Klaipeda

Feliks Puzemskis, Chairman of the Klaipeda Jewish community and visiting chairman of the Kaliningrad Jewish community, Daniil Kofner were very helpful

Kaliningrad (RussianКалининградIPA: [kəlʲɪnʲɪnˈgrat]), formerly called Königsberg (GermanKönigsbergRussian:КёнигсбергOld PrussianTwangste, Kunnegsgarbs, KnigsbergLithuanianKaraliaučiusPolishKrólewiec), is a seaportcity and the administrative center of Kaliningrad Oblast, the Russian exclave between Poland and Lithuania on the Baltic Sea. The territory borders on NATO and European Union members Poland and Lithuania, and is geographically separated from the rest of Russia.


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Kretinga (About this sound pronunciation GermanKrottingen) is a city in Klaipėda CountyLithuania. It is the capital of theKretinga district municipality. It is located 12 km (7.5 mi) east of the popular Baltic Sea resort town of Palanga, and about 25 km (16 mi) north of Lithuania’s 3rd largest city and principal seaport, Klaipėda.

The population was listed as 21,421 in the 2006 census. It is the 6th largest city in the ethnographic region of Samogitia and the 18th largest city in Lithuania.

I found the address of Lesley Abelsohn’s granny using my iPhone, Google Maps and Lesley’s email:

“My granny Toby Rostovsky Grupel

Rostovsky family lived at:  3 Birutes  g   (taken off the postcard that I have!!)  Kretingen!!”


I also found the cemetery using GPS and some detective work.

Please note that these are only a selection of my photos and videos.

Comment if you would like to see more on any topic.


Palanga Holocaust Memorial – difficult to find in a massive park. Make sure of the right entrance.



From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Palanga (About this sound pronunciation GermanPolangenPolishPołąga) is a seaside resort town in western Lithuania, on the shore of the Baltic Sea. It is the busiest summer resort in Lithuania and has beaches of sand (18 km long and up to 300 m wide) and sand dunes.[1] Officially Palanga has the status of a city municipality and includes ŠventojiNemirseta,Būtingė and other settlements, which are considered as part of the city of Palanga.

The Palanga Mall down to the beach

Some old images from Palanga

Palanga on Lithuanian coast.3

Palanga on Lithuanian coast.5

On the road to Liepaja, Latvia

And that was the end of a long day!

From Kaunas to Klaipeda

Chaim Bargman travelled with me to several places west of Kaunas, halfway to Klaipeda.

He is very knowledgeable, has many haimisher stories and sad ones too, of course.

He is extremely outgoing and will chat to anybody of any age, and they are charmed by him!

The view of Kaunas from the hill on the other side of the Neman river.



Jewish cemeteries of Kaunas

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Aleksotas Jewish cemetery

The Jewish cemeteries of Kaunas are the four Jewish cemeteries of the Lithuanian Jews living in Kaunas, known to them as KovneLithuania. Jewish people started settling in Kaunas in the second half of the 17th century. They were not allowed to live in the city, so most of them stayed in the Vilijampolė settlement on the opposite than Kaunas Castle right bank of theNeris River, near the its confluence with the Nemunas River. Since the second half of the 19th century, Kaunas became a major center of Jewish cultural and economic activity in Lithuania.

The oldest Jewish cemetery in Vilijampolė was destroyed by the Soviet authorities after World War II during the Soviet occupation and Lithuanian SSR times, and the fourth is still active.[1]

The second and the largest Jewish cemetery is situated in the residential Žaliakalnis elderate, near the Ąžuolynas park. Among others, the Rabbi of Kovno and the head of Kovno Kollel Yitzchak Elchanan Spektor was buried in the Jewish cemetery of Žaliakalnis. The cemetery is left neglected at the moment.[2]

The third cemetery is located in the Panemunė elderate on the left bank of the Nemunas River. Only 3 gravestones are visible in the Jewish cemetery of Panemunė.

The fourth and still active Jewish cemetery is located in Aleksotas elderate near the Nemunas River.



From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Babtai is located in Lithuania


Babtai is a small town 24 km (15 mi) north of Kaunas, in Kaunas County, in central Lithuania. It is situated on the left bank of the Nevėžis River. As of 2001 it had a population of 1,715.[1] Situated on the historic road from Kaunas to Riga, it played a role in the trade between Lithuania and Livonia. In 1792, the town received Magdeburg rights and coat of arms. The town declined after construction of railways.[2]


We visit the Babtai Holocaust Memorial which is well hidden away, out of town.

It takes a great sense of direction to find the beacon and quite a challenge to get there, but we made it!

Raseiniai (About this sound pronunciation ) is a city in Lithuania. It is located on the south eastern foothills of the Samogitianshighland, some 5 km (3.1 mi) north from the Kaunas–Klaipėda highway.

Lunch in Raseiniai. Chaim connects with everyone!


The Memorial Museum of Dionizas Poska, Bijotai

Run by the delightful Judita & Vaida

We visit Brone Jurgeliene, who saved a boy. Brone was recognised by Yad Vashem in 1998.

Righteous Among the Nations

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
 The term originates with the concept of “righteous gentiles“, a term used in rabbinical Judaism to refer to non-Jews, as ger toshav and ger zedek, who abide by the Seven Laws of Noah.

Righteous Among the Nations (Hebrewחסידי אומות העולם‎, khassidey umot ha-olam “righteous (plural) of the world’s nations”) is an honorific used by the State of Israel to describe non-Jews who risked their lives during the Holocaust to save Jews from extermination by the Nazis.

Video – together with the barking dog!

I drove on to  Klaipeda, once known as Memel, Lithuania’s port. Chaim returned to Kaunas by getting a ride with someone yet to be decided!


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
City municipality
Skyline of Klaipėda
Flag of Klaipėda
Coat of arms of Klaipėda
Coat of arms
Nickname(s): Uostamiestis (port city)
Location of Klaipėda
Location of Klaipėda
Coordinates: 55°42′40″N 21°07′50″ECoordinates55°42′40″N 21°07′50″E
Country  Lithuania
Ethnographic region Lithuania minor
County Klaipėda County
Municipality Klaipėda city municipality
Capital of Klaipėda County
Klaipėda city municipality
First mentioned 1252
Granted city rights 1254
Elderships Melnragė and Giruliai
 • Total 110 km2 (40 sq mi)
Elevation 21 m (69 ft)
Population (2014)
 • Total 157,350[1]
Time zone EET (UTC+2)
 • Summer (DST) EEST (UTC+3)
Postal code 91100-96226
Area code(s) (+370) 46

Klaipėda (pronounced [ˈkɫɐɪˑpʲeːd̪ɐ] ( )GermanMemel) is a city in Lithuania situated at the mouth of the Danė Riverwhere it flows into the Baltic Sea. It is the third largest city in Lithuania and the capital of Klaipėda County.

The city has a complex recorded history, partially due to the combined regional importance of the Port of Klaipėda, a usually ice-free port on the Baltic Sea, and the Akmena – Danė River. It has been controlled by the Teutonic Knights, theDuchy of Prussia, the Kingdom of Prussia, the German Empire, the Entente States immediately after World War I, Lithuania as a result of the 1923 Klaipėda Revolt, and the Third Reich following the 1939 German ultimatum to Lithuania. The city was incorporated into Lithuania during its tenure as a Soviet Socialist Republic and has remained within Lithuania following its re-establishment as an independent state.

The population shrank from 207,100 in 1992 to 157,350 in 2014. Popular seaside resorts found close to Klaipėda are Nida to the south on the Curonian Spit, and Palanga to the north.



From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Memel is the name for both a town and a river (the same river in the neighboring country has the name Nemunas/Neman River and Njemen in Belarus). Memel was derived from the CouronianLatvian language: memelis, mimelis, mēms and means mute, silent. It may refer to:

  • Memel, a city in East Prussia, Germany, now Klaipėda, part of Lithuania
    • Memelburg, the Ordensburg in Memel, a castle built in 1252 by Teutonic Knights which was the nucleus for the city
    • Memel Territory (Memelland), the area separated from Germany by the Treaty of Versailles, later called Klaipėda Region
    • Battle of Memel, a siege of the city, from late 1944 to early 1945.
  • Neman River (German Memel), part of a river in East Prussia, Germany, mentioned in the Deutschlandlied (1841) as the eastern border of Germany
  • Nemunėlis River (German Memele, Latvian Mēmele)
  • Memel, Free State, a village in the Free State Province of South Africa, named after the city
  • SS Memel, a German cargo ship in service 1934–45
 The Old Town and Port area

Kaunas – Kovno, Lithuania

A walk around Kaunas Old Town.

Bump into the Kahn Family Tour, led by Yulik Gurevich.

From left to right:

Steven Kahn, Leslie Kahn, Michelle Berman , Rene’ Chadwick , Yishai Ger, Zelda Ger, Marda Kahn, Selwyn Marcus, Melvyn Kahn, Avron Ger (front), Barry Ger, Yulik Gurevich



The Choraline Synagogue and the four Swiss people from my hotel:

Sam & Margaret,  Marc & Annette. We also were met by Moshe Beirak, the gabbai.


The Sugihara House Museum and its guide, Ramunas Janulaitis.

Students with their lecturer, Raimundas Kaminskas. I was asked to address them.


The walk back to my hotel

Kaunas by night

Raimonda’s parents

Jewish community of Kaunas

Main article: Kaunas Ghetto

Jews began settling in Kaunas in the second half of the 17th century. They were not allowed to live in the city, so most of them stayed in the Vilijampolė settlement on the right bank of the Neris river. Jewish life in Kaunas was first disrupted when the Soviet Union occupied Lithuania in June 1940. The occupation was accompanied by arrests, confiscations, and the elimination of all free institutions. Jewish community organizations disappeared almost overnight. Soviet authorities confiscated the property of many Jews, while hundreds were exiled to Siberia. Meanwhile, the Lithuanian Activist Front, founded by Lithuanian nationalist émigrés in Berlin, disseminated anti-semitic literature in Lithuania.[20]

Following Hitler’s invasion of the Soviet Union on 22 June 1941, Soviet forces fled from Kaunas. Both before and after the German occupation on 25 June, the anti-Communists began to attack Jews, blaming them for the Soviet repressions, especially along Jurbarko and Kriščiukaičio streets.[20] The Lithuanian provisional government established a concentration camp at the Seventh Fortress, one of the city’s ten historic forts, and 4,000 Jews were rounded up and murdered there. Prior to the construction of a museum on the site, archaeologists unearthed a mass grave and personal belongings of the Jewish victims.[24]

Kovno Ghetto

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
  (Redirected from Kaunas ghetto)

Ghettos Reichskommissariat Ostland(marked with red-gold stars)

The Kovno ghetto was a ghetto established by Nazi Germany to hold the Lithuanian Jews of Kaunas during the Holocaust. At its peak, the Ghetto held 40,000 people, most of whom were later sent to concentration and extermination camps, or were shot at theNinth Fort. About 500 Jews escaped from work details and directly from the Ghetto, and joined Soviet partisan forces in the distant forests of southeast Lithuania and Belarus.


The Nazis established a civilian administration under SA Major General Hans Kramer to replace military rule in place from the invasion of Lithuania on June 22, 1941. TheLithuanian Provisional Government was officially disbanded by the Nazis after only a few weeks, but not before approval for the establishment of a ghetto under the supervision of Lithuanian military commandant of Kaunas Jurgis Bobelis, extensive laws enacted against Jews and the provision of auxiliary police to assist the Nazis in the genocide. Between July and August 15, 1941, the Germans concentrated Jews who survived the initial pogroms, some 29,000 people, in a ghetto established inVilijampolė (Slabodka). It was an area of small primitive houses and no running water which had been cleared of its mainly Jewish population in pogroms by Lithuanian activists beginning on June 24.


Civilians looking at the massacre of 68 Jews in the Lietukis garage ofKaunas on June 25 or 27, 1941

The ghetto had two parts, called the “small” and “large” ghetto, separated by Paneriai Street and connected by a small wooden bridge over the street. Each ghetto was enclosed by barbed wire and closely guarded. Both were overcrowded, with each person allocated less than ten square feet of living space. The Germans continually reduced the ghetto’s size, forcing Jews to relocate several times. The Germans and Lithuanians destroyed the small ghetto on October 4, 1941, and killed almost all of its inhabitants at the Ninth Fort. Later that same month, on October 29, 1941, the Germans staged what became known as the “Great Action.” In a single day, they shot around 10,000 Jews at the Ninth Fort.

The ghetto in Kovno provided forced labor for the German military. Jews were employed primarily as forced laborers at various sites outside the ghetto, especially in the construction of a military airbase in Aleksotas. The Jewish council (Aeltestenrat; Council of Elders), headed by Dr. Elkhanan Elkes, also created workshops inside the ghetto for those women, children, and elderly who could not participate in the labor brigades. Eventually, these workshops employed almost 6,500 people. The council hoped the Germans would not kill Jews who were producing for the army.

The Underground School

As an act of defiance an underground school was conducted in the Kovno Ghetto when such education was banned in 1942. A remarkable photo of one of the classes of that school features in the US Holocaust publication, “The Hidden History of the Kovno Ghetto”. Identification of the teacher visible in that photo is given in a website that deals with the hidden school.[1] However almost all of the children in the Ghetto, approximately 2,500, were removed in the Kinder Aktion of 27–28 March 1944.

Smuggling Babies out of the Ghetto

From 1942 births were not permitted in the ghetto and pregnant women faced death. However a number of babies of ages from about 9 months to 15 months were smuggled out of the Kovno Ghetto to willing Lithuanian foster mothers.[2]

Final days

In the autumn of 1943, the SS assumed control of the ghetto and converted it into the Kovno concentration camp. The Jewish council’s role was drastically curtailed. The Nazis dispersed more than 3,500 Jews to subcamps where strict discipline governed all aspects of daily life. On October 26, 1943, the SS deported more than 2,700 people from the main camp. The SS sent those deemed fit to work to Vaivara concentration camp in Estonia, and deported surviving children and the elderly to Auschwitz.

On July 8, 1944, the Germans evacuated the camp, deporting most of the remaining Jews to the Dachau concentration camp in Germany or to the Stutthof camp, nearDanzig, on the Baltic coast. Three weeks before the Soviet army arrived in Kovno, the Germans razed the ghetto to the ground with grenades and dynamite. As many as 2,000 people burned to death or were shot while trying to escape the burning ghetto. The Red Army occupied Kovno on August 1, 1944. Of Kovno’s few Jewish survivors, 500 had survived in forests or in a single bunker which had escaped detection during the final liquidation; the Germans evacuated an additional 2,500 to concentration camps in Germany.


Monument of the Kaunas Ghetto

Throughout the years of hardship and horror, the Jewish community in Kovno documented its story in secret archives, diaries, drawings and photographs. Many of these artifacts lay buried in the ground when the ghetto was destroyed. Discovered after the war, these few written remnants of a once thriving community provide evidence of the Jewish community’s defiance, oppression, resistance, and death. George Kadish (Hirsh Kadushin), for example, secretly photographed the trials of daily life within the ghetto with a hidden camera through the buttonhole of his overcoat.

The Kovno ghetto had several Jewish resistance groups. The resistance acquired arms, developed secret training areas in the ghetto, and established contact with Soviet partisans in the forests around Kovno.

In 1943, the General Jewish Fighting Organization (Yidishe Algemeyne Kamfs Organizatsye) was established, uniting the major resistance groups in the ghetto. Under this organization’s direction, some 300 ghetto fighters escaped from the Kovno ghetto to join Jewish partisan groups. About 70 died in action.

The Jewish council in Kovno actively supported the ghetto underground. Moreover, a number of the ghetto’s Jewish police participated in resistance activities. The Germans executed 34 members of the Jewish police for refusing to reveal specially constructed hiding places used by Jews in the ghetto.

Notable people

My Walk in the West End

My tiled mosaic of my images of the West End.

Click on any image to enlarge.

A few others on the way to Edgeware
Some friends

West End of London

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Night entertainment in Leicester Square – the heart of the West End.

The West End of London (more commonly referred to as simply the West End) is an area of central London containing many of the city’s major tourist attractions, shops, businesses, government buildings, entertainment venues (including the commercial West End theatres). Use of the term began in the early 19th century to describe fashionable areas to the west ofCharing Cross.[1] For strategic planning, the area is identified as one of two international centres in the London Plan.[2]

The West End is the most expensive location in the world in which to rent office space, beating Tokyo in December 2013.[3]



Lying to the west of the historic Roman and Mediaeval City of London, the West End was long favoured by the rich elite as a place of residence because it was usually upwind of the smoke drifting from the crowded City.[citation needed] It was also close to the royal seat of power at Westminster, and is largely contained within the City of Westminster (one of the 32 London boroughs).

Developed in the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries, it was originally built as a series of palaces, expensive town houses, fashionable shops and places of entertainment. The areas closest to the City around HolbornSeven Dials, and Covent Garden historically contained poorer communities that were cleared and redeveloped in the 19th century.

The name “West End” is a flexible term with different meanings in different contexts. It may refer to the entertainment district around Leicester Square and Covent Garden; to the shopping district centred on Oxford StreetRegent Street, and Bond Street; or, less commonly, to the whole of that part of central London (itself an area with no generally agreed boundaries) which lies to the west of the City of London.


Using the broadest definition, these are the inner districts of the West End, which were all developed by about 1815:

The districts to the south, north and west of Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens were developed between the end of theNapoleonic Wars in 1815 and the late 19th century, in some cases based on existing villages. The more fashionable of them were generally regarded as being in the West End at that time, but the extension of the term to these areas west of Park Lane is less common nowadays. The last two listed especially are fringe cases:

Notable streets

Notable squares and circuses

The West End is laid out with many notable public squares and circuses, the latter being the original name for roundabouts in London.

London – The East End & Primrose Hill

A tour of the East End led by Robin Michaelson

With Saul Issroff and Cliff Marks (Seattle)

The tube from Northwick Park, Harrow where I am staying with Geraldine & Ronnie Auerbach to Baker Street where I meet the other three.

Our arranged meeting place is a wooden bench on Platform 3 on Baker Street Station.


East End of London

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The East End of London, also known simply as the East End, is the area of LondonEngland, east of the Roman and medieval walled City of London and north of the River Thames. Although not defined by universally accepted formal boundaries, the River Lea can be considered another boundary.[1] For the purposes of his book, East End Past, Richard Tames regards the area ascoterminous with the London Borough of Tower Hamlets: however, he acknowledges that this narrow definition excludes parts of southern Hackney, such as Shoreditch and Hoxton, which many would regard as belonging to the East End.[2] Others again, such as Alan Palmer, would extend the area across the Lea to include parts of the London Borough of Newham;[3] while parts of theLondon Borough of Waltham Forest are also sometimes included. It is universally agreed, however, that the East End is to be distinguished from East London, which covers a much wider area.

Use of the term East End in a pejorative sense began in the late 19th century,[4] as the expansion of the population of London led to extreme overcrowding throughout the area and a concentration of poor people and immigrants.[5] The problems were exacerbated with the construction of St Katharine Docks (1827)[6] and the central London railway termini (1840–1875) that caused the clearance of former slums and rookeries, with many of the displaced people moving into the East End. Over the course of a century, the East End became synonymous with poverty, overcrowding, disease and criminality.[3]

The East End developed rapidly during the 19th century. Originally it was an area characterised by villages clustered around the City walls or along the main roads, surrounded by farmland, with marshes and small communities by the River, serving the needs of shipping and the Royal Navy. Until the arrival of formal docks, shipping was required to land its goods in the Pool of London, but industries related to construction, repair, and victualling of ships flourished in the area from Tudor times. The area attracted large numbers of rural people looking for employment. Successive waves of foreign immigration began with Huguenot refugees creating a new extramural suburb in Spitalfieldsin the 17th century.[7] They were followed by Irish weavers,[8] Ashkenazi Jews[9] and, in the 20th century, Bangladeshis.[10] Many of these immigrants worked in the clothing industry. The abundance of semi- and unskilled labour led to low wages and poor conditions throughout the East End. This brought the attentions of social reformers during the mid-18th century and led to the formation of unions and workers associations at the end of the century. The radicalism of the East End contributed to the formation of the Labour Party, and Sylvia Pankhurst based campaigns for women’s votes in the area and organised the first Communist Party in England here.

Official attempts to address the overcrowded housing began at the beginning of the 20th century under the London County CouncilThe Second World War devastated much of the East End, with its docks, railways and industry forming a continual target for bombing, especially during the Blitz, leading to dispersal of the population to new suburbs and new housing being built in the 1950s.[3] The closure of the last of the East End docks in the Port of London in 1980 created further challenges and led to attempts at regeneration and the formation of the London Docklands Development Corporation. The Canary Wharf development, improved infrastructure, and the Olympic Park[11] mean that the East End is undergoing further change, but some parts continue to contain some of the worst poverty in Britain.[12]


The Walk to the Bevis Marks Synagogue


Bevis Marks Synagogue

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Bevis Marks Synagogue
Bevis Marks Synagogue P6110044.JPG
Basic information
Location Bevis Marks, London, United Kingdom
Affiliation Orthodox Judaism
Rite Sephardic
Status Active
Heritage designation Grade I listed building
Architectural description
Completed 1701

Bevis Marks Synagogue (Hebrewבֵּית הַכְּנֶסֶת בוויס-מַרקס, AKA Kahal Sahar Asamaim or Sha’ar ha-Shamayim) is theoldest synagogue in the United Kingdom. It is located off Bevis Marks, in the City of London.

The synagogue was built in 1701 and is affiliated to London’s historic Spanish and Portuguese Jewish community.[1] It is a Grade I listed building. It is the only synagogue in Europe which has held regular services continuously for over 300 years.



Services at a small synagogue in Creechurch Lane date to at least October 1663, when it was visited on the festival ofSimchat Torah, by the diarist Samuel Pepys, who recorded his impressions of the service. In 1698 Rabbi David Nieto took spiritual charge of the congregation of Spanish and Portuguese Jews (also called Sephardim)[2]

A considerable influx of Jews made it necessary to obtain more commodious quarters. Accordingly a committee was appointed, consisting of António Gomes Serra, Menasseh Mendes, Alfonso Rodrigues, Manuel Nunez Miranda, Andrea Lopez, and Pontaleão Rodriguez. It investigated matters for nearly a year, and on 12 February 1699, signed a contract with Joseph Avis, a Quaker, for the construction of a building to cost £2,650. According to legend, Avis declined to collect his full fee, on the ground that it was wrong to profit from building a house of God. Also unsubstantiated is the story that a timber was donated by the then Princess Anne for the roof of the synagogue.[3] On 24 June 1699, the committee leased from Sir Thomas and Lady Pointz (also known as Littleton) a tract of land at Plough Yard, in Bevis Marks, for 61 years, with the option of renewal for a further 38 years, at £120 a year.

The structure was completed and dedicated in September 1701.[4] The interior decor and furnishing and layout of the synagogue reflect the influence of the greatAmsterdam Synagogue of 1677. The roof was destroyed by fire in 1738 and repaired in 1749. During the London Blitz the synagogue’s silver, records and fittings were removed to a place of safety; the synagogue suffered only minor damage. The synagogue suffered some collateral damage from the IRA in 1992 and the 1993 Bishopsgate bombing, but this was restored.[5] The essential original structure of the building thus remains today.

In 1747 Benjamin Mendes da Costa bought the lease of the ground on which the building stood, and presented it to the congregation, vesting the deeds in the names of a committee consisting of Gabriel Lopez de Britto, David Aboab Ozorio, Moses Gomes Serra, David Franco, Joseph Jessurun Rodriguez, and Moses Mendes da Costa.


For Sephardic Jews, the Bevis Marks Synagogue was a religious center of the Anglo-Jewish world for more than a century, and served as a clearing-house for congregational and individual Jewish problems all over the world. These included the appeal of Jews in Jamaica for a reduction in taxation (1736), the internecine quarrel among Jews in Barbados (1753), and the aiding of seven-year-old Moses de Paz, who escaped from Gibraltar in 1777 to avoid a forced conversion to Christianity. Through the actions of the leading synagogue member Moses Montefiore the synagogue was also involved in the 19th century in the Damascus Affair and the Mortara Affair. two events provoking much international discussion of Jewish rights and reputation.[6]

Amongst the Chief Rabbis of the Anglo-Sephardic Community (Hahams) who have served at Bevis Marks have been Daniel Nieto (1654–1728) and Moses Gaster (1856–1939).[7] Amongst other notable members of the synagogue’s congregation have been the boxer Daniel Mendoza, and Isaac D’Israeli (father of Benjamin Disraeli), who resigned from the congregation after an argument over synagogue fees.[8]

Expansion of the community

As the Spanish and Portuguese Jewish community grew and moved out of the City and East End of London to the West End and the suburbs, members demanded a new synagogue to be built in the West End. When leadership refused this, some members formed a breakaway synagogue in Burton Street, which later became the West London Synagogue. In 1853 a branch synagogue was opened in Wigmore Street; in 1866 this moved to Bryanston Street, Bayswater. Attendance at Bevis Marks declined so much that in 1886 a move to sell the site was contemplated; a “Bevis Marks Anti-Demolition League” was founded, under the auspices of H. Guedalla and A. H. Newman, and the proposed move was abandoned.

In 1896 a new synagogue was built at Lauderdale Road, Maida Vale, as successor to the Bryanston Street synagogue.


the Ark

A prominent feature of the synagogue is the Renaissance-style ark (containing the Torah scrolls) located at the centre of the Eastern wall of the building. It resembles in design the reredos of the churches of the same period. Painted to look as though it is made of coloured Italian marble, it is in fact made entirely of oak.

Seven hanging brass candelabra symbolise the seven days of the week, the largest of which – hanging in the centre of the synagogue – represents the Sabbath. This central candelabrum was donated by the community of the Great Synagogue of Amsterdam. The candles are still lit today for weddings and the Jewish Festivals. The rest of the year the Synagogue is lit by the electric lights added in 1928. The ner tamid (sanctuary lamp) is of silver and dates from 1876.[9]

Twelve pillars, symbolising the twelve tribes of Israel, support the women’s gallery.

The synagogue contains benches running parallel to the side walls and facing inward, leaving two aisles for the procession with the Torah scrolls. In addition, backless benches at the rear of the synagogue, taken from the original synagogue at Creechurch Lane, date from 1657 and are still regularly used.[10]

A number of seats in the synagogue are roped off as they belong or have belonged to notable people within the community. Two seats were reserved for the most senior officials of the congregation’s publishing arm, Heshaim. A third seat, fitted with a footstool, (the seat nearest the Ark on the central row of the left half of the benches) is also withheld as it belonged to Moses Montefiore. It is now only ever occupied by very senior dignitaries as a particular honour. In 2001 Prince Charles used the seat during the synagogue’s tercentenary service. Prime Minister Tony Blair used it for the service celebrating the 350th anniversary of the re-settlement of the Jews in Great Britain in 2006, when the Chief Rabbi of the United Synagogue SirJonathan Sacks and the Lord Mayor of London were also present.[11]

The synagogue retains notable historical records, including community circumcision and marriage records dating back to 1679.[12]

The modern synagogue

Interior, 2011

On Friday 13 November 1998, Lord Levene of Portsoken became the eighth Jewish Lord Mayor of London. An Ashkenazi Jew by birth, Lord Levene’s first public act was to walk, with a retinue, from his official residence (Mansion House) to Bevis Marks Synagogue, for the Sabbath Eve service. This was repeated on Friday 12 November 2010 by the then Lord Mayor Michael Bear.

Today the Spanish and Portuguese descendant community in London operates three synagogues; Bevis Marks, Lauderdale Road, (which is the community’s administrative headquarters), and a smaller synagogue in Wembley. The community’s sheltered housing scheme “Harris Court” and old-age home “Edinburgh House” are also located in Wembley. A number of other Sephardic synagogues in Britain have associated status.Bevis Marks Synagogue remains the flagship synagogue of the British Sephardic Jewish community. Regular services are held and the synagogue is frequently a venue for weddings and other celebrations.


The Heron Building – great views of London and a trendy sushi bar on the top floor.


Liverpool Street station

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Liverpool Street
London Underground National Rail
London Liverpool Street
Liverpool Street station, London, England-26Feb2011.jpg

Main station concourse

Liverpool Street is located in Central London

Liverpool Street

Liverpool Street station, also known as London Liverpool Street,[4][5] is a central London railway terminus and connectedLondon Underground station in the north-eastern corner of the City of London. It is the terminus for the West Anglia Main Line to Cambridge; the busier Great Eastern Main Line to Norwich; many local commuter services to parts of east London,Essex, and Hertfordshire; and the Stansted Express, a fast link to London Stansted Airport.

It was opened in 1874 as a replacement for the Great Eastern Railway‘s main London terminus, Bishopsgate station, which was subsequently converted into a goods yard. Liverpool Street was built as a dual-level station with an underground station opened in 1875 for the Metropolitan Railway, named Bishopsgate until 1909 when it was renamed Liverpool Street. An additional station called Bishopsgate (Low Level) existed on the mainline just outside of Liverpool Street from 1872 until 1916.

During the First World War Liverpool Street was a target of one of the most deadly daylight air raids by fixed-wing aircraft – the attack killed 162 people. In the build-up to the Second World War the station served as the terminus for thousands of child refugees arriving in London as part of the Kindertransport rescue mission.

The station was modernised and rationalised between 1985 and 1992; at the same time the neighbouring Broad Street station was demolished and its lines redirected to Liverpool Street. As part of the project the Broadgate development was constructed on the Broad Street site. Queen Elizabeth II officially opened the modified station in December 1991.

The Underground station was damaged by the 1993 Bishopsgate bombing, and during the 7 July 2005 terrorist attacks seven passengers were killed when a bomb exploded aboard an Underground train after it had departed Liverpool Street.

With over 57 million passenger entries and exits in 2011-12, Liverpool Street is one of the busiest railway stations in the United Kingdom and is the third busiest in London after Waterloo and Victoria.[6] It is one of 19 stations managed by Network Rail[7]

It has three main exits: toLiverpool Street, after which the station is named; to Bishopsgate; and to the Broadgate development to the west of the station. The Underground station connects the CentralCircleHammersmith & City andMetropolitan lines, and is in fare zone 1.

The Kindertransport Memorials at Liverpool Street Station


Sandys Row Synagogue

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Sandy’s Row Synagogue
Sandys Row Synagogue 2008.jpg
Basic information
Location LondonEngland
Affiliation Orthodox Judaism
Rite Ashkenazi

Sandy’s Row Synagogue is a historic Grade II listed[1] synagogue in the East End of London.[2]



The building was constructed in 1766 by refugee French Huguenots as a community church, named L’Eglise de l’Artillerie (the Artillery Church), on a small street called Parliament Court, Artillery Street, in Bishopsgate.[3] The church took its name from the street, which in turn took its name from the fact that in the time of Henry VIII, the artillery practiced there.[4] With changing demographics, the church passed into the hands of the Universalist Baptists, the Unitarian Baptists, the Scottish Baptists, and the Salem Chapel. In the mid-19th century, it was purchased by a Jewish society, the Hevrat Menahem Avalim Hesed v’Emeth(Heb: The Comforters of Mourners Kindness and Truth Society).[5] The society had been founded by immigrants in 1853 as a mutual aid and burial insurance society, but evolved into a synagogue.[5] The members were workingmen of Dutch Ashkenazibackground, employed as cigar makers, diamond cutters and fruit traders.[5] They acquired the building in 1867.[5]

The building renovation was opposed by London’s established synagogues, whose officials believed that new immigrants ought to join one of the established congregations. The poor, immigrant Jews of London’s East End, however, felt so strongly about having a synagogue of their own that, rather than sitting in the free or cheap seats reserved for the poor in the established synagogues, they raised money to purchase and renovate the building at the rate of a penny per family per week. The Chief Rabbi of London, Nathan Marcus Adler, refused to preside over the dedication ceremonies. The total cost of the renovation came to £1,000. The building contractor held a mortgage for most of the cost, which the congregation paid off at the rate of £70 per year.[6][7]

By 1881 Sandys Row was among the largest congregations in the East End, with a membership of 460 families and adult men.[8]

In May 2009 English Heritage awarded a grant of £250,000 for the restoration of the synagogues Huguenot roof.[1][9] In November 2010, building work began and the new roof is now in place.

Today (2012) The synagogue is the last remaining Jewish place of worship in Spitafields. It is in use for weekday afternoon prayers, for Sabbath services every other week, for Jewish Festivals, and for tours of the historic building.[1] A plan for using the historic synagogue to house a museum or heritage centre celebrating the Jews of London’s East End is under consideration.[10]

After the Great Synagogue of London, the city’s first Ashkenazi congregation, was destroyed by the Nazis in the London Blitz on May 10, 1941, Sandys Row became theoldest surviving Ashkenazi synagogue in London.[10]


The congregation hired architect Nathan S. Joseph to remodel the former church. The building is rectangular and measures 48′ by 36′. A women’s gallery runs along the north, west, and south walls.[8] The difficulty was that the entrance was on the south east corner of the building. Jews traditionally pray in the direction of Jerusalem, which, in London, in towards the southeast. Joseph’s solution was to brick up the former entrance, place the Torah Ark on the southeast wall, and open a new door on the northwest wall, opening onto Sandys Row.[5]

Solomon modeled the handsome Georgian interior after the style of the Great Synagogue of London in Duke’s Place. Like the Great Synagogue, Sandys Row has a coved ceiling, cornice, clerestory windows and a Neo-classical Torah Ark set into an apse.[5] The pews are of pine and the Torah Ark of mahogany. The interior is almost unaltered since its construction in the nineteenth century.[9]



From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Ch ch spitalfields.400px.jpg
Christ Church, Spitalfields

Spitalfields /ˈspɪtəlˈfldz/ is a former parish in the borough of Tower Hamlets, partly in Central London and partly in theEast End of London, near to Liverpool Street station and Brick Lane. The Liberty of Norton Folgate and the neighbouringLiberty of the Old Artillery Ground were merged into Spitalfields in 1921.

The area straddles Commercial Street and is home to several markets, including the historic Old Spitalfields MarketBrick Lane Market and Cheshire StreetPetticoat Lane Market lies on the area’s south-western boundaries.


Brick Lane

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Brick Lane street sign in English and Bengali.

Brick Lane (Bengali: ব্রিক লেন) is a street in East LondonEngland, in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets. It runs from Swanfield Street in the northern part of Bethnal Green, crosses Bethnal Green Road, passes through Spitalfields and is linked toWhitechapel High Street to the south by the short stretch of Osborn Street. Today, it is the heart of the city’s Bangladeshi-Sylheti community and is known to some as Banglatown.[1] It is famous for its many curry houses.


Baker Street Station


Primrose Hill

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Coordinates51.5396°N 0.1608°W

Primrose Hill
Primrose Hill Panorama, London - April 2011.jpg
View of central London from Primrose Hill
Primrose Hill is located in Greater London

Primrose Hill
Primrose Hill
 Primrose Hill shown within Greater London
OS grid reference TQ282838
London borough Camden
Ceremonial county Greater London
Region London
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town LONDON
Postcode district NW1, NW3, NW8
Dialling code 020
EU Parliament London
UK Parliament Holborn and St. Pancras
London Assembly Barnet and Camden
List of places



Primrose Hill is a hill of 256 feet (78 m)[1] located on the northern side of Regent’s Park in London, and also the name given to the surrounding district. The hill has a clear view of central London to the south-east, as well as Belsize Park andHampstead to the north. It is one of the most exclusive and expensive residential areas in London and is home to many prominent residents.[2]


Panoramic view of London from Primrose Hill

Primrose Hill at night

Like Regent’s Park, Primrose Hill was once part of a great chase appropriated byHenry VIII. Later, in 1841, it became Crown property and in 1842 an Act of Parliament secured the land as public open space. The built up part of Primrose Hill consists mainly of Victorian terraces. It has always been one of the more fashionable districts in the urban belt that lies between the core of London and the outer suburbs, and remains expensive and prosperous. Primrose Hill is an archetypal example of a successful London urban village, due to the location and the quality of its socio-historical development.[3] In October 1678 Primrose Hill was the scene of the mysterious murder of Edmund Berry Godfrey, and in 1792 the radical Unitarian poet and antiquarian Iolo Morganwg (Edward Williams).

Notable residents past and present

Fremantle Walking Tour


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The first Jewish congregation in Western Australia was founded in Fremantle in 1887, when Benjamin Solomon organised the necessary fundraising and construction of the synagogue on the corner of South Terrace and Parry Street. The Reverend Abraham Tobias Boas came to Fremantle from Adelaide to lay the foundation stone of the new building, in 1891. It was opened in 1897, but did not last long as a place of worship because the congregation was absorbed into the Perth Hebrew Congregation in 1907.

Freo Jewish Walk

Jill and I joined about 20 others on a walking tour of Fremantle.

Although there is very little remaining to show that there was a Jewish life here in Fremantle,  Ari Antonovsky is an excellent story teller and made it a most entertaining morning.

We also heard from Hilary Silbert, who told us about her family’s history in Fremantle.


Around Fremantle:

You can click on images


Buildings with a Jewish connection:

Hilary Silbert

The Old Fremantle Synagogue