Sunday, April 29, 2007

The Russian Compound, Jerusalem

I realize that this is about a week late, in fact it's precisely a week late, but here are some photos from a tour I took of the Russian compound in Jerusalem. It's pretty grim, but hey, it was Memorial Day.

The Russian compound, one of the first neighborhoods to go up outside the protection of the old city walls, was constructed in 1864 to serve the thousands of visiting Russian Orthodox Christians coming to the holy city on pilgrimage. After the British Empire threw the Ottoman Empire out the door in 1917, the British colonial authorities took over, transforming the entire area into an administrative center.

The Russian Compound's Pilgrimage Center, which had served as a hostel for the visiting pilgrims, could accommodate up to 2,000 visitors at a time. With long hallways leading to separate rooms, it was an ideal layout for a hostel, or a prison, which is exactly what the British turned the place into.

Entering the Prison, festooned with flags for the upcoming Independence Day.

Her Majesty's Palestine Police Force's Logo

Over the course of the British occupation, hundreds of prisoners, both simple criminals and political, passed through its gates. Jews and Arabs were incarcerated together. Executions for capital crimes were commonplace, but only for Arabs. While the facility housed many death-row inmates captured from the Jewish underground organizations, Jews sentenced to death were sent to Acco for the actual executions. The British, fearful of the Jewish reaction to executions in the holy city, never used the gallows of the prison for Jews.

Hallways in the British Prison

In each cell, one prisoner was made supervisor over the others, and given an actual bed. This, of course, resulted in great resentment from the others.

The supervising prisoner gets his own bed.

The Prison Bakery

Prisoners from the Jewish underground organizations were often put to work making coffins and gravestones for the very same British policemen and soldiers they had killed in combat. As the guards used to tell them, "What you start on the outside, you finish on the inside."

Coffins in the wood shop

The Gravestone Quarry

But the prison couldn't keep all of its inmates on the inside. Coming up next... the underground fighters stage a jailbreak from the British prison.

1 comment:

Alex said...

Hi

Please consider writing news pieces or an op-ed for Jewrusalem: Israeli Uncensored News. We strive to present different views and opinions while rejecting political correctness. Ideally, we try to make the news "smart and funny." Thus, your input is very welcome.

Best,
Alex
www.jewrusalem.net/en