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Sunday, 2 March 2014

Mother, can you find me?


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The old Tatar in Bakhchisaray (Crimea), Yakub, as many of the Crimean Tatars, was deported in 1944 by the Soviet government to the Urals, where he was forced to work as a lumberjack. This work, in severe conditions, ruined his health. He returned to Crimea in the early 1990, as the Soviet Union collapsed: photo by Wojdom, 20 September 2012
 


Families identify war dead in Kerch, Crimea
: photo by Dmitri Baltermants, January 1942 (The Dmitri Baltermants Collection/Corbis)


Milk seller in in Bakhchisaray (Crimea): photo by Wojdom, 22 September 2012
 

Russian vacations (Crimea): photo by Wojdom, 8 September 2012
 

Fun at the beach in Koktebel (Crimea): photo by Wojdom, 7 September 2012
 

 In Koktebel (Crimea): photo by Wojdom, 7 September 2012
 

At the Biostancya, near Koktebel (Crimea): photo by Wojdom, 7 September 2012
 

On the beach, Black Sea (Crimea): photo by Wojdom, 11 September 2012
 

On the bus (Crimea): photo by Wojdom, 8 September 2012
 

A monastery in the mountains (Crimea): photo by Wojdom, 21 September 2012
 

Women at the holy spring, near the monastery (Crimea): photo by Wojdom, 21 September 2012
 

Participants at demonstration in Sinferopl, Crimea hold a banner" "There is only one Homeland, like a Mother!": photo by Leyla Emir-Asan, 18 May 2010; posted 4 July 2010 (International Committee for Crimea)
 

Participant at demonstration in Sinferopol, Crimea displays pictures of Crimean Tatars who served as officers and won medals in the Soviet Army: photo by Leyla Emir-Asan, 18 May 2010; posted 4 July 2010 (International Committee for Crimea)
 


Soviet rocket in Crimea: photo by Kirill (Twilight Tea), 15 July 2012
 


Soviet war memorial, Panorama building, Sevastopol, Crimea. The panorama of the 349-day defense of Sevastopol, 1849-1850: photo by Slavophile, 8 June 2011



Soviet era surveillance tower, Koktebel, Crimea. Shot seconds before a troupe of peasants in colorful folkloric garb marched over the hill, singing Soviet anthems... not: photo by Satanael, August 2006


 Postcard from Lucy GRV in Russia, showing a famous park in Yalta, Crimea (now the Ukraine), famous resort of the Soviet people. The card was sent in 1956 from a student to a teacher for Mother's Day: image by Jassy-50, 11 October 2013
 


Reminiscences of the Crimea: photo by Natalie Panga, 14 March  2012

Crimea is located on the northern coast of the Black Sea, occupying a peninsula of the same name.The territory of Crimea was conquered and controlled many times throughout its history. The Cimmerians, Greeks, Persians, Goths, Huns, Bulgars, Khazars, the state of Kievan Rus', Byzantine Greeks, Kipchaks, Ottoman Turks, Golden Horde Tatars and the Mongols all controlled Crimea in its early history. In the 13th century, it was partly controlled by the Venetians and by the Genovese; they were followed by the Crimean Khanate and the Ottoman Empire in the 15th to 18th centuries, the Russian Empire in the 18th to 20th centuries, the Russian SFSR and later the Ukrainian SSR within the Soviet Union in the rest of the 20th century, Germany in World War II, and now Crimea is an autonomous Ukrainian administrative region.

"Reminiscences, even extensive ones, do not always amount to an autobiography. For autobiography has to do with time, with sequence and what makes up the continuous flow of life. Here, I am talking of a space, of moments and discontinuities.  For even if months and years appear here, it is in the form they have in the moment of recollection. This strange form -- it may be called fleeting or eternal -- is in neither case the stuff that life is made of.” -- Walter Benjamin
 


Camp Artek, 1991. Famous Soviet (present day Ukrainian) summer camp for children in Crimea. Can you find me?: photo by Uzi-Doesit, 25 April 2011
 


Foros sanitarium, Foros, Crimea. Soviet old-style sanatorium in Foros. Time stands still: photo by SusanneD, 25 September 2006



Balaklava nuclear submarine base, Crimea #55.
The nuclear submarine base in Balaklava used to be one of the most secret military bases on the planet. Once the Soviet Union collapsed, the base was no longer needed. Now it is open to the public. Tunnelled into the cliff face, it is more like a set from a James Bond movie than a museum!: photo by Jonathan Wallace, October 2006; posted 27 February 2009



Balaklava nuclear submarine base, Crimea #47.
The nuclear submarine base in Balaklava used to be one of the most secret military bases on the planet. Once the Soviet Union collapsed, the base was no longer needed. Now it is open to the public. Tunnelled into the cliff face, it is more like a set from a James Bond movie than a museum!: photo by Jonathan Wallace, October 2006; posted 27 February 2009
 

Entry into Soviet nuclear submarine base, Balaklava, Crimea.  Underground and classified nuclear submarine base operational until 1991 and said to be virtually indestructible, even by a direct atomic impact. In this period Balaklava was one of the most secret villages in Soviet Russia. Almost the entire population of Balaklava at the time worked at the base, even family members could not visit the town of Balaklava without good reason and identification. The base remained operational after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 until 1993 when the decommissioning process started and the warheads and low yield torpedoes were removed. Then in 1996 the last Russian submarine left the base, and now you can go on guided tours round the canal system, base and small museum, which is now housed in the old weapons stowage hangars deep inside the hillside: photo by Vyacheslav Argenburg, 1 September 2005

11 comments:

Poet Red Shuttleworth said...

Extraordinary photographs, Tom, absolutely stunning... sobering, too, as we consider Crimea and its many, many pasts, and its future (probably as part of Russia again).

ACravan said...

Quite often my daughter looks at me seriously and asks (semi-sarcastically), “Dad, what are your hopes and dreams?” I’m serious and sincere by nature and my first response isn’t to react to the joke (which arises out of questions 16 ½ year olds are actually asked on occasion, apparently) but actually to consider the question and be stumped.

I have no idea what my hopes and dreams are (or indeed ever were) and I feel the same way when I look at this remarkable collection of images. The people on the beach, the cats in the harbor and on the street, they all have hopes and dreams, I suppose, or maybe not. Maybe it’s long been a question of getting through the latest lousy day and simply hoping for the best. (Those Dalek “wooden soldiers” in the submarine base are relieved of the burden of the hopes and dreams cycle.)

This morning I was reminded of a 2008 op-ed piece in the Wall Street Journal written by New York’s perennially distasteful senator Charles Schumer, stating: "Mr. Putin is an old-fashioned nationalist who seeks to regain the power and greatness Russia had before the fall of the Soviet Union," and recommending: "To bring Putin's Russia on board we must make it an offer it cannot refuse."

The offer Schumer had in mind was for the US essentially to allow Putin and Russia to regain hegemony and control of Eastern Europe in order to enlist them as an economic boycott ally against Iran by offering to strip Poland, Romania and the Czech Republic of US-sponsored NATO missile protection. Ultimately we followed through on our unaccepted offer and the rest, as they say, is history.

Funny to re-read the article and confusing and perplexing (at best) retracing how the waters have flowed since then.

Curtis

TC said...

Thanks Red for acknowledging the photos, which are of course the post.

On this subject, like most other subjects -- it's been a sort of last-things concentration here of late -- I've tried to stop my ears before the sirens of punditry can penetrate.

Words can only say so much, and lately that so much seems so very, very little, particularly when it comes out of the mouth of a politician or an expert.

I am put in mind of the refrain of a song long popular in Mexico -- una mentira mas.

Aye, the bewildering history, when tiptoed-about as one does when mystified, comes a bit clearer, for me at least, when I can at least put a face and a bit of cracked stucco on it, or give it a homemade shopping basket and plop it on a bus.

These things we can understand.

(And do note: not a smartphone to be seen, on the bus, at the monastery in the mountains, or at the holy spring.)

The vacationing swine-elites of the new Russia look pretty much like vacationing swine-elites everywhere. And if not as a nuclear base, what other purpose does this little sore thumb stuck out into the Black Sea serve?

Curiously, not even that last previous horde of leisure 'n terror visitors, the vacationers of the Third Reich, looked quite this ugly. Must be the carbs.

Horst Grund: Crimean Holiday, 1941-1942

mistah charley, ph.d. said...

I hope that the re-annexation of Crimea to Russia, currently underway, takes place with minimal bloodshed. Under the circumstances, resistance is futile, especially since it seems the majority of the Crimean population* favors the transfer. The Russians are justified in saying, about the Crimean peninsula, "all your bases are belong to us."

*The Crimean population of today - Crimea is, of course, one of many places with an ethnic profile that has been reshaped by relatively recent population displacement operations.

The demonstrators in the picture are holding up signs written in the Latin alphabet - although Google Translate says it's Turkish, I would conclude from the context that it's more specifically Crimean Tatar. Our friends at Wikipedia tell us (and I believe them) Before the Sürgün, the deportation of Crimean Tatars to the Uzbek SSR (18 May 1944), it had an official language status in the Crimean Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic.

Will the re-Russification of Crimea be good for the Tatars? It depends. It is, however, obviously not a consideration that will affect what happens in the immediate future.

And speaking of the foreseeable future, however long that is - you, Tom, state it's been a sort of last-things concentration here of late. No one is in a better position than you to decide what the best use of your remaining time is - but I want to say that I find this blog beautiful, moving, and deeply humane. May the Creative Forces of the Universe continue to be with you, and with all who read these words.

TC said...

Yes, about the Russian "position"...

Somebody always seems to be saying that to somebody.

Hazen said...

One of the striking features to emerge from this crisis as it plays out in media images, is that almost all of the fighters are wearing masks. Soldiers, “elite riot police” (?), Pravy Sektor thugs, et cetera—they’re all faceless. Eerie and disturbing, and no doubt intended to have that effect; a whiff of psy-ops, serving also to disguise to the world and to the people in Ukraine just who The Playerz are in this latest version of the Great Game. One needs a program (a photo caption will do) to know who is moving against whom. In the tactical use of doubt and confusion, “the executioner’s face is always well-hidden.”

ACravan said...

Tom -- what an amazing video. Curtis

Nin Andrews said...

What a great series of photos. Interesting comments as well. Hopes and dreams? I don't think my children ever ask that.

TC said...

Just imagine the hopes and dreams of someone who grew up in the nurturing environment of the nuclear submarine base that was the town's sole employer.

The base is cut deeply into the rock wall with the narrow aperture for water access disguised to appear from above as the entrance to a vacationers' spa.

"In the tactical use of doubt and confusion, 'the executioner’s face is always well-hidden.'”

Alas, that sounds about tight.

(Good thing "we" don't have any secret little holiday hideaway hot spots like that.)

State and corporate masks, when stripped away, always seem to reveal that default cruelty face... inevitably turned to the side as the blow falls.

Apologies for the bad link to Horst Grund's Crimean vacation portfolio (see above).

This should work:

Horst Grund: Crimean Holiday, 1941-1942

Wooden Boy said...

"This strange form -- it may be called fleeting or eternal -- is in neither case the stuff that life is made of".

Walter's bang on the nail again.

This post is the most critically engaged response I've seen over the last few days. The BBC spent a good bit of the time talking about the effect on the ruble.

Priorities...

TC said...

Yes, I believe the only stirring of interest over here has been in the area of portfolio management, so many of the visionaries having diversified into Gazprom when the time was right, global investment knowing no barriers, & c.