Saturday, May 28, 2011

old Libau

Libau is the German name for Liepaja, now a port city in Latvia with a population of about 85,000.  At the time of these early 20th century postcards, it was part of the Russian empire.  It gained independence in 1918 but in 1940 it suffered under Stalin's invasion followed by the standard expropriations and deportations.  The Germans liberated it the following year (except for about 7,000 Jews who were exterminated in sand dunes north of the city), but when Stalin's armies advanced again in 1944 the city held out until the end of the war--it was only recaptured by the Soviet army on 9 May 1945. The fighting devastated the city; most of the buildings and industrial plant were destroyed.  During the period of Soviet occupation until 1991 it was a forbidden zone military port; since then the commercial port has been re-opened.

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