In 1940, about 100,000 Jews lived in Vilnius, and there were more than 100 synagogues. 70,000 were killed in the pits in Ponary. Today, there are about 5,000 Jews in Vilnius, with only a single working synagogue, and a second being restored. This evening there was a conflagration behind our hotel on Gelius Street, on the edge of what was the Jewish Quarter and is today's old town. The fire broke out in a courtyard between a bar and a church and a police station, and is still raging at this time. Alastair and I were not alone watching the flames, though the local citizens, police, and firemen seemed remarkably calm given the scale and location of the fire.
June 7, 2016, Rasu Prison in Vilnius. We sent 87 drone photographs to Calgary on Monday night, or 7 AM Calgary time. By the time Alastair and I were ready for brown bread and herring for breakfast on Tuesday, Eric Johnson had stitched the photos together, and used photogrametric mapping software to create a relief map of the prison with 1 cm resolution. Instead of using this map to plan our escape, we used the subtle relief features to focus our geophysical exploration for the grave of Jacob Gens, the Jewish Chief of Police and Head of the Judenrat, the Jewish administration, of the Vilnius Ghetto between 1941 and 1943. Subtle depressions, for instance, could be indicative of a burial. The abandoned church beyond the prison walls was used for Nazi administration in the war. Tomorrow we will carry out surveys in Ponary, trying to improve the mapping of the mass burials of the 100,000 citizens of Vilnius executed in the forest, and trying to locate the escape tunnel of the "Burning Brigade.
Blogging by Paul Bauman