Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin’s Color Photographs of Pre-Revolution Russia

Sergey Mikhaylovich Prokudin-Gorsky was a Russian chemist and photographer, best known for his pioneering work in color photography during the early 20th century. His priceless color photographs documenting the waning days of the Russian Empire before the First World War and the Russian Revolution are today some of the most prized possession of the United States Library of Congress.

In the beginning of the 20th century, color photography was still in its infancy. It was the German photochemist Adolf Miethe, with whom Prokudin-Gorsky studied briefly the techniques, who greatly improved the three-color principle of color photography. Using a specialized camera developed by Adolf Miethe, Prokudin-Gorsky took three black and white images in quick succession, using red, green and blue filters, which were later recombined and projected with filtered lanterns to show near true color images. Because exposure time was often high and the three color-filtered photographs were not taken at the same time, subjects that did not hold steady during the entire operation exhibited colored fringes around its edges in the resulting color image. Such fringes are characteristics of many Prokudin-Gorsky’s photographs.

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The Emir of Bukhara, Alim Khan (1880-1944), poses for his portrait, taken in 1911 shortly after his accession. As ruler of an autonomous city-state in Islamic Central Asia, the Emir presided over the internal affairs of his emirate as absolute monarch, although since the mid-1800s Bukhara had been a vassal state of the Russian Empire. With the establishment of Soviet power in Bukhara in 1920, the Emir fled to Afghanistan where he died in 1944.

Around 1905, Prokudin-Gorsky envisioned and formulated a plan to use the emerging technological advances in color photography to document the Russian Empire systematically. Tsar Nicholas II granted him permits that allowed him to travel unmolested across restricted areas and instructed the empire’s bureaucracy to cooperate with the photographer. For six years from 1909 through 1915 Prokudin-Gorsky travelled across the length and breadth of the vast country in a specially equipped railroad-car darkroom capturing vivid portraits of a lost world. His subjects ranged from the medieval churches and monasteries, to the railroads and factories of an emerging industrial power, to the daily life and work of Russia’s diverse population. According to one estimate, Prokudin-Gorsky took over 10,000 photographs during these years.

After the Russian Revolution, Prokudin-Gorsky left Russia in 1918 and eventually settled in Paris. Prokudin-Gorsky couldn’t take all of his photographs with him when he left Russia. Some sources claim he only had about 3,500 negatives with him before leaving the country, of which nearly half were confiscated by Russian authorities for containing material they deemed strategically sensitive for war-time Russia. Some of Prokudin-Gorsky’s negatives were given away, and some he hid on his departure. The remaining negatives—about 1,900 of them—and about 700 more album prints were purchased by the United States Library of Congress in 1948, four years after the death of Prokudin-Gorsky.

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An Armenian woman from Artvin in national costume.

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A merchant at the Samarkand market displays colorful silk, cotton, and wool fabrics as well as a few traditional carpets. A framed page of the Koran hangs at the top of the stall

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Dressed in traditional Central Asian attire, a vendor of locally grown melons poses at his stand in the marketplace of Samarkand in present-day Uzbekistan.

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Prokudin-Gorskii and others ride the Murmansk Railroad in a handcar along the shores of Lake Onega near Petrozavodsk.

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Young Russian peasant women offer berries to visitors to their izba, a traditional wooden house, in a rural area along the Sheksna River near the small town of Kirillov.

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Wooden mills using wind-power to grind wheat and rye are photographed in the middle of summer on the vast Siberian plain in rural Ialutorovsk county in Western Siberia.

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A young Kazakh family in colorful traditional dress moving across the Golodnaia (or “Hungry”) steppe in present-day Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan. Many Central Asiatic peoples, for example the Kirghiz, Kazakhs, and Uzbeks, lived nomadic lives on the steppes, valleys, and deserts, migrating seasonally from one place to another as opportunities for obtaining food, water, and shelter changed.

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Wearing traditional dress and headgear, a Turkmen camel driver poses with his camel, laden with what is most likely grain or cotton. Camel caravans remained the most common means of transporting food, raw materials, and manufactured goods in Central Asia well into the railroad era.

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Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii poses near a mountain stream, thought to be the Karolitskhali River in the Caucasus Mountains near the seaport of Batumi on the eastern coast of the Black Sea.

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This photo shows the interior of a tea packaging and weighing operation located at the Chakva tea farm and processing plant just north of Batumi, close to the Black Sea coast in what is now the Republic of Georgia. The Chakva farm and plant was one of the major suppliers of tea to all parts of the Russian Empire.

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In this portrait, Prokudin-Gorksii captures the traditional dress, jewelry, and hairstyle of an Uzbek woman standing on a richly decorated carpet at the entrance to a yurt, a portable tent used for housing by the nomadic peoples of Central Asia.

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Five inmates stare out from a zindan, a traditional Central Asian prison–in essence a pit in the earth with a low structure built on top. The guard, with Russian rifle and bayonet, is attired in Russian-style uniform and boots.

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A small nineteenth-century wooden chapel, was on the north side of the White Lake in north central European Russia.

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In the early years of the First World War, Prokudin-Gorskii photographed a group of prisoners of war from the Austro-Hungarian Empire. The men are probably Poles, Ukrainians, and members of other Slavic nationalities, imprisoned at an unidentified location in the far north of European Russia near the White Sea. This image escaped being confiscated by border guards probably because what is being represented is not immediately obvious.

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A Bashkir switch operator poses by the mainline of the railroad, near the town of Ust’ Katav on the Yuryuzan River between Ufa and Cheliabinsk in the Ural Mountain region of European Russia.

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The Ural Mountain region is noted for the richness of its iron deposits and ores. The Bakaly hills, in the area outside the city of Ekaterinburg, provide the locale for a small-scale family mining operation.

Unknown Racist American History

The history of the United States is complex and very diverse.  Many movements and associations came and continue today.  Some stayed and became prominent institutions, others faded away.  One that faded away, thankfully, was the German American Bund.

The German American Bund or German American Federation (German: Amerikadeutscher Bund) was an American Nazi organization established in the 1930s. Its main goal was to promote a favorable view of Nazi Germany.

 

Bund march Manhattan 1939

 

In December 1935 Deputy Führer Rudolf Hess ordered all German citizens leave the Friends of New Germany (FOTNG), while also recalling all the group’s leaders to Germany.  In March 1936, the German American Bund (AV) was established as a follow-up organisation for the FOTNG in Buffalo, New York.  It elected a German-born American citizen Fritz Julius Kuhn, a veteran of the Bavarian infantry during World War I.

 

Fritz Kuhn on left

 

The Bund was one of several German-American heritage groups; however, it was one of the few to express National Socialist ideals. As a result, many considered the group anti-American. In the last week of December 1942, led by journalist Dorothy Thompson, fifty leading German-Americans including Babe Ruth signed a “Christmas Declaration by men and women of German ancestry” condemning Nazism, which appeared in ten major American daily newspapers. In 1939, a New York tax investigation determined Kuhn had embezzled money from the Bund. The Bund operated on the theory that the leader’s powers were absolute, and therefore did not seek prosecution. However, in an attempt to cripple the Bund, the New York district attorney prosecuted Kuhn. New Bund leaders would replace Kuhn, most notably with Wilhelm Kunze, but these were only brief stints. Martin Dies and the House Committee on Un-American Activities (HUAC) were very active in denying any Nazi-sympathetic organization the ability to freely operate during World War II.

 

No, this is not Berlin. Rally in Madison Square Garden 1939.

 

 

 

No, this is not Nuremberg.  This is Chicago 1936.  A Nazi youth rally.

 

Photos

France

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Giant crypt in Saudi Arabia

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Mt. Etna

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North Dakota Sunset

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Harvard University

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Cats and their love for small spaces

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Garbage dumpsters

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Amish raising a barn in New York state

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 Nuremberg rally headed by the evil and attended by the brain washed

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Florida flood

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Moving cattle in the Netherlands

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Lightning storm over England

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US soldiers with Dutch children dressed in traditional garb 1944

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Fascinating alternate history

Philip Kindred Dick (December 16, 1928 – March 2, 1982) was an American novelist, short story writer and essayist whose published work is almost entirely in the science fiction genre. Dick explored sociological, political and metaphysical themes in novels dominated by monopolistic corporations, authoritarian governments and altered states. In his later works Dick’s thematic focus strongly reflected his personal interest in metaphysics and theology. He often drew upon his own life experiences in addressing the nature of drug abuse, paranoia and schizophrenia, and transcendental experiences in novels such as A Scanner Darkly and VALIS.

The novel The Man in the High Castle bridged the genres of alternate history and science fiction, earning Dick a Hugo Award for Best Novel in 1963.  Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said, a novel about a celebrity who awakens in a parallel universe where he is unknown, won the John W. Campbell Memorial Award for best novel in 1975.  “I want to write about people I love, and put them into a fictional world spun out of my own mind, not the world we actually have, because the world we actually have does not meet my standards”, Dick wrote of these stories. “In my writing I even question the universe; I wonder out loud if it is real, and I wonder out loud if all of us are real.”  Dick referred to himself as a “fictionalizing philosopher.”

The following Dick novels and short stories were Hollywoodized onto the big screen:  “Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep” was the inspiration for the movie Bladerunner.  “We Can Remember It For You Wholesale”  inspired the movie Total Recall with Arnie.   The newly release movie The Adjustment Bureau is based on the Dick short story “Adjustment Team”.

The Man In The High Castle takes “What If” fictional military history into an amazing new realm.  When I read this novel I could not stop thinking about it for months.

 

Plot summary:

Giuseppe Zangara’s successful assassination of U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt, in 1933, led to the weak governments of FDR’s Vice President John Nance Garner and of the Republican John W. Bricker in 1940; both politicians failed to surmount the Great Depression and maintained the country’s isolationist policy against participating in the Second World War; thus, the U.S. had insufficient military capabilities to assist the United Kingdom and the Soviet Union against Nazi Germany, or to defend itself against Japan in the Pacific.

In 1941, the Nazis conquered the USSR and then exterminated most of its Slavic peoples; the few whom they allowed to live were confined to reservations. In the Pacific, the Japanese destroyed the U.S. Navy fleet in a decisive, definitive attack on Pearl Harbor; thereafter, the superior Japanese military conquered Hawaii, Australia, New Zealand and Oceania by the early 1940s. Afterward, the Axis Powers, each attacking from opposite fronts, conquered the coastal United States, and, by 1948, the Allied forces surrendered to the Axis.

Japan established the puppet Pacific States of America out of Alaska, California, Hawaii, Oregon, parts of Nevada and Washington as part of the Greater East Asian Co-Prosperity Sphere. The remaining Mountain, Great Plains and Southwestern states became the Rocky Mountain states, a buffer between the PSA and the remaining USA, now a Nazi puppet state in the style of Vichy France. Having defeated the Allies of World War II and won the war for the world, the Third Reich and Imperial Japan, as the resultant superpowers, consequently embarked upon a Cold War.

After Adolf Hitler’s syphilitic incapacitation, Martin Bormann, as Nazi Party Chancellor, assumes power as Führer of Germany. Bormann proceeds to create a colonial empire to increase Germany’s Lebensraum by using technology to drain the Mediterranean Sea and convert it into farmland (see Atlantropa), while sending spaceships to colonize Mars and other parts of the Solar System in the name of the Reich.

As the novel begins, Führer Bormann dies, initiating an internal power struggle between Joseph Goebbels, Reinhard Heydrich, Hermann Göring and other top Nazis to succeed him as Reichskanzler.

 

 

A story within a story.

Several characters in The Man in the High Castle read the popular novel The Grasshopper Lies Heavy, by Hawthorne Abendsen, whose title, putatively, derives from the Bible verse: “The grasshopper shall be a burden” (Ecclesiastes 12:5). It is a novel within a novel, wherein Abendsen posits an alternative universe where the Axis lost WWII (1939–1948), for which reason the Germans banned it in the occupied U.S., despite its being a widely-read book in the Pacific and its publication being legal in the neutral countries.

The Grasshopper Lies Heavy postulates that President Franklin D. Roosevelt survives assassination and forgoes re-election in 1940, honoring George Washington’s two-term limit. The next president, Rexford Tugwell, removes the U.S. Pacific fleet from Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, saving it from Japanese attack, and ensuring that the U.S. enters World War II a well-equipped naval power. The UK retains most of its military-industrial strength, contributing more to the Allied war effort, leading to Field Marshal Erwin Rommel’s defeat in North Africa; a British advance through the Caucasus to guide the Soviets to victory in the Battle of Stalingrad; Italy reneging on its membership in and betrayal of the Axis Powers; British armor and the Red Army jointly conquering Berlin; and, at the end of the war, the Nazi leaders — including Adolf Hitler — being tried for their war crimes; the Führer‘s last words are Deutsche, hier steh’ ich(“Germans, here I stand”), in imitation of the priest Martin Luther.

Post-war, Churchill remains Britain’s leader; and, because of its military-industrial might, the British Empire does not collapse; the USA establishes strong business relations with Chiang Kai-shek’s right-wing regime in China, after vanquishing the Communist Mao Zedong. The British Empire becomes racist and more expansionist post-war, while the U.S. outlaws Jim Crow, resolving its racism by the 1950s. Both changes provoke racialist-cultural tensions between the US and the UK, leading them to a Cold War for global hegemony between the two vaguely liberal, democratic, capitalist societies. The British Empire eventually defeats the US, becoming the world’s only superpower.

 

The ‘Stars and Bars’ alive and well down in Brazil

The town in Brazil that embraces the Confederate flag

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The debate over flying the Confederate flag has reignited in the US, but the American South isn’t the only place in the world you’ll see the emblem – it’s also proudly displayed in the rural Brazilian town of Santa Barbara D’Oeste.

Once a year, the descendants of about 10,000 Confederates that fled the United States to Brazil after the US Civil War have a sort of family reunion.

“They all take part in stereotypically southern things like square dances, eating fried chicken and biscuits, and listening to George Strait,” says Asher Levine, a Sao Paulo-based correspondent for Reuters.

“And a lot of Confederate flags everywhere, all over the place.

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Despite being six or seven generations removed from their antebellum ancestry, many local Brazilians still maintain strong ties to Southern culture, and proudly wave the Confederate flag.

But for them, Levine says, the flag is much more of an ethnic symbol than a political one.

“They see themselves as ethnically American to some degree,” he says.

“At an Italian festival, you would see people waving an Italian flag. Or on Saint Patrick’s Day you see people waving the Irish flag. They see it that way. They don’t have any political affiliation to it whatsoever.”

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Over time, the Southern white population has mixed with the Brazilians, resulting in people with a variety of different shades of skin colours waving the Confederate flag. Americans might be surprised by the resulting visual.

“A lot of people who are descendants of these confederates have African blood as well, so you’ll see at the party people with dark skin waving the Confederate flag.”

Levine says he talked to an American at the festival who was completely amazed at watching a young girl singing Amazing Grace – often sung in black churches across the US – while standing on top of a Confederate flag.

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The banner is everywhere – kids wave mini-flags and women wear Confederate flag dresses.

“You know, the symbolism is totally lost on them, but for us it’s quite a contrast,” Levine says.

Despite being a very mixed-race country, Levine says that the killings in Charleston are being seen in Brazil as more of a gun safety issue than a racial issue.

“When they see an event like what happened in South Carolina last week, they wonder if it’s really so much better in the United States, safety-wise.”

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After the end of the American Civil War, beginning in 1867, the region began to see immigration from the southern United States, these immigrants were known as the Confederados.

Today’s Confederados maintain affection for the Confederate flag even though they consider themselves completely Brazilian. In Brazil, the Confederate flag has not had the racial stigma that has been attached to it in the United States. Many modern Confederados are of mixed-race and reflect the varied racial categories that make up Brazilian society in their physical appearance. Recently the Brazilian residents of Americana, now of primarily Italian descent, have removed the Confederate flag from the city’s crest citing the fact that Confederados now make up only 10% of the city’s population. In 1972, then Governor (and future President) Jimmy Carter of Georgia visited the city of Santa Bárbara d’Oeste and visited the grave of his wife Rosalyn’s great-uncle, who was one of the original Confederados.

BBC