• Holocaust Remembrance Day: Extermination of Odessa Jews

    The Holocaust Remembrance day falls on May 2 this year and in the few following posts I will publish several documents concerning the treatment of the Jewish population in my hometown of Odessa, Ukraine issued by the Romanian Authority which occupied Odessa from 1941-1944.

    At the beginning of the occupation there were 80,000-90,000 Jews who did not evacuate from Odessa. When the city was liberated on April 10, 1944 there were reportedly only 600 left. Somewhere in the Odessa Region my 6-year old Father survived in the ghetto with help from kind people and lots of  luck. The area where he lived with my Grandmother was occupied by the Italians who were not very enthusiastic about being in the war and their relative reluctance to torture and execute the Jews might have resulted in more survivors than in the areas controlled by Romanians who proved themselves to be ruthless murderers.

    Many places in Odessa and the Region have memorial markers where the executions were conducted, such as a place where over 25,000 Jews were burned alive shortly after the occupation started. Unfortunately, I never stopped or paid attention to them, probably like most people. I saw more memorial markers today, while researching this post, than I remember seeing when I still lived in Odessa.

    The Russian text is found in the National Archives of the Odessa Region, translation mine. If I have time and patience I will also try to translate a personal memoir written by a survivor; translation is a long and tedious process, and even though I start with a machine translation, it still doesn’t always come out right. Feel free to let me know if I can correct some grammar or spelling errors.

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  • The Google Prophecies

    Recent announcement from Google about the upcoming high-speed network being built in KCK became fodder for hordes of prognosticators. While some of the predictions may be pretty accurate, it’s clear that the development will generally follow a three-stage process:

    Stage 1: Regional

    • All of the Kansas Suburbs voluntarily annex themselves to KCK, with Johnson County becoming South KCK and Douglas County renaming itself West KCK.
    • Capital of Kansas moves to downtown KCK.
    • The State of Missouri, unsuccessful in trying to merge with Kansas is rapidly vacated with everyone rushing to buy property in now expanded KCK. Property values skyrocket.
    • After failing to retain its citizens by abolishing and then reversing the ETAX to pay an extra 1% for working and living in the city, KCMO goes under and quickly deteriorates. Sprint center fills with rainwater and becomes an aquarium. The rest of the city is used as an urban paintball field.
    • A new airport is built in KCK to handle all the expected traffic.
    • Surrounding states are converted to agricultural use to support the growing population.

    By the end of the 3rd quarter of 2012 Kansas City, KS will look like this (yes, that’s a new Eifel Tower/WIFI antenna).

    © frenic

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  • How Many Years Can A Building Exist…

    There are multiple predictions about the future of the Earth after the humans are no longer populating it; scientists, writers, movie directors are guessing how long it will be before the Planet erases all the traces of our existence. These predictions are not very hard to make: there are multiple examples of abandoned and lost cities from the ancient times and not so ancient like Chernobyl.

    And then there is former Benchmark Express Furniture store in Olathe, KS – a slowly deteriorating reminder of a failed business I drive by several times a day. The store closed around 4 years ago, when the economy was still doing fine and people still were spending the money they didn’t yet know they didn’t have. Recently one of the large signs fell down and I thought it was a good time to stop by and take a few photos.
    Apparently the letter X is the first to go:

    This sign crashed a month or two ago:

    No one backed up to the loading dock for a long time:

    Concrete is slowly converting back to its original ingredients:

    Customers are long gone…

    …and trespassers are not welcome:

    Grass is growing on the parking lot:

    This sign may last a year or two before it falls:

    Formerly grand facade is sprouting cracks:

    Even the parking lot signs are tired of standing idle:

    Wind is blowing through the banner:

    Soon after the final sale was over with and the store was closed for good, the developers promptly constructed more retail space across the street.

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  • Nothing Still Rhymes With Minneapolis

    We only had one full day in Minneapolis so we had to make it count. Getting around the Twin Cities is easy, even considering horribly confusing twin I35 highways. On any highway you will probably find yourself to be the fastest driver in the city – the rest of the population competes in out-slowing each other and driving under the speed limit without actually coming to a complete stop.

    From the beautiful downtown Minneapolis…

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  • Old Photos: Russian Orthodox Easter

    According to the original Life Magazine article published in 1952 these photos were taken in the Cathedral of Holy Virgin Protection in New York. In Russian Easter is called “Pascha“; after the all-night vigil the believers declare “Christ is Risen!” and everyone responds “Indeed, He is risen!”.

    ©Time. Ralph Morse.

    ©Time. Ralph Morse.

    ©Time. Ralph Morse.

    ©Time. Ralph Morse.

    ©Time. Ralph Morse.

    ©Time. Ralph Morse.

    The rest of the photos.

    Russian icon depicting the resurrection. (source)

    Sergei Rachmaninov: Liturgy Of St. John Chrysostom, Op. 31

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