Historical Video Productions Fieldtrip

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On Friday our Historical Video Production class took a field trip to see the city of Hartford, as their documentary projects will be on the History of Hartford.

A great group of students were joined by our tour guide Chief Charles Teale (former fire chief for the City of Hartford and historian).  The Chief gave us a wonderful bus tour of the city.

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We then stopped at the Old State House for a tour and museum.

Next, we went to City Hall and the Hartford Public Library where the historical librarian helped the student with their research.

The tour finished up at Hartford Public Access Television station with a tour of the facility and PIZZA!!

Fun day for our UHart students.

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Third Update from Lithuania-“Archaeology is always about People”–this is what the work was really all about. Professor Richard Freund

1Kyle Conti, Joe Beck, Richard Freund, Justin Lockhart, Harry Jol, Vytenis Tomkus, Phil Reeder, Vaida Babeckiene, Giedrius Dekaminiavicus, and Darijus Rimkus(left to right)

A final dinner was held in our honor with the Mayor of Kaišiadorys, Vytenis Tomkus , and the head of Rumsiskes tonight. Kaišiadorys is a city in central Lithuania and is situated between Vilnius and Kaunasis a city in central Lithuania. It is situated between Vilnius and Kaunas and they hosted us for these four days at the Rumsiskes Museum house and with meals at a local restaurant. It was a dinner where we celebrated the research but also our people to people interaction and the students that did the work in the field. That is, without question, what it is all about. The research is important. The students, all undergraduates make the difference.
2Today we began with our visits and research for the future work in Lithuania. We had visits to potential sites for future work in the area. Our work will continue in Vilna at the Great Synagogue but we are committed to bringing the technologies and offered it to other archaeological projects throughout the country. Professor Jol is working with archaeologists in the north on Neolithic sites and classic hillforts. We visited the Pravieniskes Prison to look at a potential mass grave inside the prison. We have done this
before and it is difficult and requires much planning. Pravieniskes is a village that is home to the largest prison today in Lithuania and in 1941 it housed prisoners that the Soviets had rounded up to stop opposition to their policies. The prison included Jews, Poles, and Lithuanian dissidents and as the Nazis came into the area in June, 1941 the prisoners were killed by the Soviets to leave no evidence of their policies. The massacre, carried out by the Red Army (NKVD) is infamous in Lithuanian history and no one
knows exactly where the almost 500 prisoners are buried. Our work may involve a GPR survey of the areas near the fences of the and walls of old prison.
In addition we visited Fort IX in Kaunas where we did work in 2017 to propose a follow up study of the massive campus with more GPR and ERT and multi-spectral drone photography to see what other areas of the site need to be marked.

The ICE GPR Project

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SO HERE WAS THE PLAN THE ICE GPR
The starting point was the dock where I was sitting.

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HERE IS WHAT WE ENDED UP DOING. 1MILE OF GPR. THOUSANDS OF DATA POINTS.

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THE ANSWER IS: WE HAVE ENOUGH TO DO A SONAR SCAN WITH DIVERS FOR THE SUMMER, 2019 AND WE HAVE BEEN INVITED TO DO THIS SURVEY BY THE MAYOR AND THE MUSEUM!6

First, we have a scan of the bottom of the lake. There are deeper areas that were beyond the scope of the survey down to 10 meters or so. You see them about 200 meters off shore in the dipping area above. This was a river bed that went through the city. There are parts of the lake that are two-three meters in depth where some of the rabbi’s house, the synagogue and the Jewish cemetery were located highlighted below. This is what we have at 1380 meters away from the shore. The GPR work concluded at approximately 1500 meters from the start. The rabbis house and synagogue and the bathhouse and school are approximately 600-700 meters from the dock where the center of the scan is. That is where we would do sonar in the summer and go with divers. Presumably they are covered with sediments but there is definitely something there for us to look at.

 

Update from Winter in Lithuania Study Aboard: Professor Richard Freund

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Breaking News-the Search for the Rabbi of Rumsiskes’ House

 

 

Our Project: Using ICEGPR-iGPR (for short) to Rediscover a Lost Jewish Village

of Rumsiskes at the bottom of Lake Kaunas and on the campus of the Rumsiskes

National Open Air Living Museum, January 15, 2019

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We arrived after 15 hours of travel from Newark to Copenhagen to Vilnius 3to Rumsiskes on Monday, January 14 . We are staying in the museum campus in amongst the historical building s and houses, many of which were transferred here to give it an authentic feel.   We have been working on this project, funded by the US Commission for the Preservation of America’s Heritage Abroad, a  US State Department commission. Planning for this was nail-biting as we waited to see if the lake that we are working on would freeze. It did. Last week and we were alreadyin the midst of planning for the summer. We are living at the open air museum and no one is here. Quite eery but good for us.They gave us a house and our hosts, the Mayor of the region and the Museum are also supplying logistical support and breakfast, lunch and dinner.

We created a lab where we basically assembled from boxes of equipment, a GPR (ground penetrating radar) device on sleds that would survey the lake to find the lost village under the ice. iGPR (for short).

 

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And the dorms are like we are back in the time of the old villages that we are researching (but with heat, showers, towels, electricity and internet!)

 

ladyWe are here to help the museum and they have pulled out all of the stops to make our visit successful. The National Living Museum is like Williamsburg or Sturbridge village. All of theliving museum town is made up of buildings and actors dressed in 19th century garb and they recreated the industries, food, life for visitors from Lithuania and abroad to come and enjoy. Schools come for retreats for a weekend with teachers and it is a major educational vehicle. The open air museum’s attitude toward the town’s (and the country’s) Jewish heritage is in marked contrast to an intricate indoor miniature model of old Jewish Rumšiškės made by Vytautas Markevičius, which meticulously includes the town’s Jewish sites and addresses in a spirit of historical accuracy and multicultural inclusiveness. That model is housed in the town’s Jonas Aistis Museum. There are no formal exhibitions on the modelNational Museum’s campus to its Jews and our part of our work is to help document and perhaps display at the Museum some of the local culture and to teach about how science can help preserve and document the history of a location even when the local population has changed.

 

 

History of the Jewish Village of Rumshishok

The late medieval village of Rumsiskes included a Jewish shtetl [shtetl is the Yiddish word for village] Rumshishok. The Jewish shtetl that represented as much as 40% of the population of the larger village and it had a significant Jewish life but was a small rural village. This was the life of the shtetl: that it could be sparsely populated but which included all of the makings of a larger Jewish city and usually was adjacent to or a part of a larger village of non-Jews. 5Each shtetl of this size generally had a synagogue, a bathhouse, a Jewish cemetery, and a Jewish school or Bet Midrash or study house like Jewish Rumsiskes.

The shtetl-life was made famous in the Shalom Aleichem story,  Tevye the Dairyman (Tevye der milkhiker in Yiddish‎)  and Tevye is the fictional narrator and protagonist of a series of short stories first published in 1894. The character is best known today because of the adaptation into the popular play: Fiddler on the Roof. You could say that we are looking for Tevye’s shtetl under the lake.

 

While nostalgia makes this a beautiful if rustic place the reality of the shtetl was brutal. Small quarters, often dirt floors, outhouses, sun-up to sundown subsistence farming and grazing of animals. And religious life was difficult often requiring people to leave their homes to go to places for major holidays. There was a charm. Intimacy and hardworking and caring and compassion out of necessity. As we settled into the house built in the 19th century which would be our research base of operations and the students settled in.We had dinner with the mayor and the Head of the Museum for last night. When we got here yesterday we all went out to the lake to see if it was indeed frozen enough.  One hour on the ice to prove to ourselves that it was able to handle the weight of the researchers, the equipment and the filming team.

The technology: Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR)

When the transmitter antennae sends electromagnetic (EM) waves into the ground (1) 6the waves reflect off underground layers which are collected by the receiver antenna (2).  Information travels to a computer (3) via fiber-optic cables (4).  The computer then displays the data in real time.

 

 

By using GPR in the winter, one can set an exact course across the lake for GPR investigation. The line has been marked by flags on the ice the course is then recorded using the GPS for later reference.  The GPR is then attached to a toboggan using shipping Velcro to secure the GPR.  When collecting data the GPR is slowly dragged along the given path at a constant speed.  The data from the GPR is recorded onto a small laptop computer in the field.

Breaking News! The lake was frozen solid by a sudden sub-zero night so…

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On the lake today we began with the map that Prof Reeder created from Google earth of the present contours of the lake and the 1944 photograph take by the Nazis. The ice is between 5-10 cm and the GPR cannot touch the ice but with a 150 Mhz antenna, first (looks down not as deep but with greater detail, and then later today we will use a 50 Mhzantenna(looks deeper but not as detailed)-we will start the search with the Rabbi’s house. The key was to wait to have enough ice for us to walk on and not have a snowstorm for us to work on this project! We got both. 

What are we looking for?

First, you have to know that the Jewish Rumsiskes shtetl is under water because the Soviets decided to build a dam near the village of Rumsiskes after WWII and decided that since the Jews had died in the Holocaust there was no reason to keep their part of the village around. They basically inundated part of the city including the Jewish shtetl and we are looking for what is left of the Jewish village and any other part of the rest of Rumsiskes that might appear nearby. The Jewish cemetery is also a good target because the memorial stones are supposed to still be there at the bottom of the lake in their original places. This should be a rather large series of anomalies all gathered in order under the lake 15 feet below the surface. The ancient Jewish cemetery of Rumshishok-the Yiddish name for Rumsiskes, Lithuania [thought to be at least 100-200 years old] the graves were apparently disinterred and the remains transferred in 1958 to Kaunas Aleksota Cemetery, just prior to the flooding of the region by the Soviets in 1959. Prior to the flooding of the old town, every grave from the Jewish cemetery in Rumshishok was dug up and the remains moved to the Rumshishok section of Kovno Jewish cemetery. The Soviets, however,  prevented the relocation of the headstones so the mass burial was facilitated. This means that there are literally scores of memorial stones that would be easily located under the water. That is the primary target of our work in January, 2019. Holocaust victims’ remains also were apparently also removed from the mass grave in the Rumshishok ravine on the campus of the Living Museum and reburied in the same Jewish cemetery in Kovno. The result is one well-maintained mass grave about 50 feet by 30 feet dedicated to Rumshishok.

Led by their intrepid leader:

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Kyle Conti filming and Justin Lockhart mapping with Prof Reeder:

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Stay tuned to see what we find. 

More photos of this adventure:

 

 

Last day in Amsterdam-Tourist time!

So now that my interviews are done and the work of pulling these stories together to write and edit our project will soon begin,  I decided that today, I will be a tourist!

IMG_5920I began my day at the Anne Frank Haus(museum) as the guest of Ronald Leopold(thank you Ronald!). When I looked online at the tickets, there was a 2 month wait!- So, if/when you plan to come to Amsterdam, get your tickets early.  I arrived at the museum and there were lines, as well as security, all over the place.  I walked up to the security officer at the front of the line and said, “Ronald Leopold has left a ticket for me”.  After a moment on the walkie-talkie she said, “Right this way Dr. Cardillo” and she walked me ahead of the line and brought me to a side entrance, where they lead me straight into the museum, in front of everyone. I felt like a celebrity.   That is, until I grabbed my English speaking listening device and I was on my way into an extraordinary place.

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I didn’t quite know what to expect from a museum built around a factory annex hiding place but this museum is done so well.  The technology and, in contrast,  the starkness of the empty rooms is amazing.  Otto Frank decided not to replace the furniture that the German’s took away after they were captured.  He said he wanted to leave it as it was.

The tour begins in the offices of those who worked in the factory and helped the Frank’s. It was so cool to be standing where Miep and Bep worked each day and then risked their own lives to help others.

Again, if you have not read the diary, you should.  Each of these rooms sits empty with a large poster of what it looked like then and photo’s and video screens on the walls that guide you through the historical events.  And each room has a quote from Anne’s diary that corresponds. Then you get to the bookcase…..the secret passage into the Annex.

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Each room of the Annex also has a large poster of what the room looked like while the 8 people occupied it.  It is incredible that 8 people spent more then 2 years here, never seeing the sun.

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After you visit the Annex you are lead to a room that houses the diaries and Anne’s short stories.  These are all under glass and beautifully preserved.

Near the end of the tour there is a screening room that hosts a three wall video projection with interviews of people, famous and not, who share their feelings. I think everyone takes away a little something different from this experience, but you definitely leave there feeling.

The Anne Frank Haus is a all about education.  Something that they emphasize –

YOU DO NOT NEED TO BE A HERO TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE.

Ronald spoke of this in our talk as well.  He said, when it comes to people being treated wrongly, “when you see something, say something…when you know it is wrong, on any level, do something”.  Small acts make a big difference.

If you would like to know more about the Anne Frank Haus and organization:

https://www.annefrank.org/en/

It was definitely a profound experience and one I hope you all get to see someday.

I spent the rest of my day Hopping on and off the boat and trolley tours.

Thanks Amsterdam!

 

Another day in Amsterdam

So, today began a bit crazy.  My interviews with Rabbi Ringer and Mr. Leopold(director of the Anne Frank Museum) were set for 2:00 and when I went to the lobby to meet my cab it was POURING outside. The front desk told me that the taxi would be late because it is raining.  He finally arrived and I asked him to take me to the address I had been given for the Reform Jewish Synagogue. But, the taxi driver could not find it.  We then happened upon a large cement building with a call box.  So I decided to get out(in the rain) and try the box.  Well, we had found it!  It was behind two large gates that I had to be buzzed into, but I was in, and so was my equipment.  reformgood

The two gentlemen arrived and we proceed to first take a tour.  We visited the Shul(church and alter for those who are not Jewish).  It was beautiful but extremely modern, which was strange for me after being in so many old synagogues in Lithuania.

This was Anne Frank’s Synagogue, although it looked quite different when she attended(I could not find a photo). This Synagogue was remodeled in 2010.  Anne’s family were members of the Liberal Jewish Community.  The Liberal Jewish Community Amsterdam was founded in 1931. In the beginning years the community was mainly composed of immigrant German Jews.

After our short tour, we went into the Anne Frank Library and began the interviews.  Almost 3 hours later we were done.  Such amazing information with kind and intellectual men.

As I do this research I often wonder about the non-Jews who watched all of this happen.  I cannot imagine just standing by and seeing my friends and neighbors being abused and not do anything.  Rabbi Ringer helped me to understand how it was possible that the Dutch people might do so.

The German’s had a three tier approach.  First they had all Jews register.  Now as this anne-frank-elizabeth-kok-montessoriseems unfair, it was not harming anyone.  Jews just had to go to the local administrator and register.  The next crucial step came a bit later, Jews were no longer allowed to work in most jobs and children had to go to special Jewish schools. They were also only allowed in Jewish shops. This removed them from regular society so their neighbors did not seem them often.

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Jews forbidden

Next they received letters telling them to pack their bags as they would be going to work camps.  These letters even told them exactly how many shirts, pants and shoes to bring, as if they were really going to work.  We now know better- the packing was only to make them think things would be OK.  This also allowed their friends and neighbors to buy in.

Ronald Leopold, the director of the Anne Frank Museum said, “Although the life of a 15-year-old now and that of Anne Frank in 1944 are very different, they share the dream of equal rights for all, of an open and free society, of being able to be yourself.”

We talked a lot about the importance of being yourself, and if you go back and re-read her diary, Anne was very much herself, although she seemed to be searching for it in her writings.  Just like the rest of us….on a journey.

“I know what I want, I have a goal, an opinion, I have a religion and love. Let me be myself and then I am satisfied. I know that I’m a woman, a woman with inward strength and plenty of courage”.  ANNE FRANK

I am staying in the museum district of Amsterdam. There are so many wonderful museums here, including the Van Gogh.  IMG_5838

And of course I had to do the Hop-on-Hop-off tour, which I do in every city.  The cool thing about Amsterdam is that it is both a bus and boat tour, so I took the boat today, I will take the bus after I visit the Anne Frank museum tomorrow.

Here are a few more photos of my day:

And, the journey continues: Amsterdam!

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Matilda Olkin

As we continue with our research and start thinking about what is still needed to tell our story about Matilda Olkin, it was decided that we needed to know more about Anne Frank.  Since both of these young women were killed in the Holocaust for being Jewish and they both left diaries behind it is only fair to look at their lives through their intimate thoughts.

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I arrived in Amsterdam yesterday and decided to take on the city immediately.  I have not been here since the 1980’s and WOW how it has changed.  Still as beautiful but now so metropolitan.

I also love that everyone uses bicycles, why don’t we have more American cities that do this?  It is so cool!IMG_5757

Today I will be interviewing both a local Rabbi, Rabbi Ringer and also the director of the Anne Frank Museum, Ronald Leopold. We will be talking about Anne, Matilda and what these two young women can teach us.  Although these girls were very different in life from each other, they each hold very similar qualities as the young women I teach today.  They were both smart and headstrong.  They both had dreams and plans for their futures.  The both were in love with boys and bickered with their parents.  They were “regular” girls with “irregular” circumstances.

IMG_5790I walked by the Anne Frank Museum yesterday and it was quite a site.  This was the factory where Anne and her family went into hiding in 1942.  It has since been re-faced and looks like a modern museum.  And the lines!!  I was there at 7:00pm and the lines were still crazy.

After re-reading Anne’s diary recently I could not help standing there and thinking about her words:

“Writing in a diary is a really strange experience for someone like me. Not only because I’ve never written anything before, but also because it seems to me that later on neither I nor anyone else will be interested in the musings of a thirteen-year old school girl. Oh well, it doesn’t matter. I feel like writing.”

Well Anne, look at what you have done, BRAVA!

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So I sat in a nearby pub and said CHEERS to Anne….and then had a nice VEGAN dinner.

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More tomorrow…..