Operation Motorman mural in Derry

© RicardMN Photography

© RicardMN Photography

Mural painted by ‘the Bogside Artists’. The mural was completed in July 2001 and is situated on Rossville Street in the Bogside area of Derry, Northern Ireland, United Kingdom. The mural depicts some of the events that occured during ‘Operation Motorman’ on 31 July 1972.

The Bogside Artists are a trio of mural painters from Derry, Northern Ireland, consisting of Tom Kelly, his brother William Kelly, and Kevin Hasson (b. 8 January 1958). Their most famous work, a series of outdoor murals called the People’s Gallery, is located in the Bogside neighbourhood of Derry and depicts the events surrounding sectarian violence and civil rights protests in Northern Ireland during the Troubles.

Operation Motorman was a large operation carried out by the British Army (HQ Northern Ireland) in Northern Ireland during the Troubles. The operation took place in the early hours of 31 July 1972 with the aim of retaking the “no-go areas” (areas controlled by residents, usually Irish republican paramilitaries) that had been established in Belfast, Derry and other large towns. During the operation, the British Army shot four people in Derry, killing a civilian and an unarmed IRA member.

The Bogside is a neighbourhood outside the city walls of Derry, County Londonderry, Northern Ireland. The large gable-wall murals by the Bogside Artists, Free Derry Corner and the Gasyard Féile (an annual music and arts festival held in a former gasyard) are popular tourist attractions. The Bogside is a majority Catholic/Irish republican area, and shares a border with the Protestant/Ulster loyalist enclave of the Fountain.

The area has been a focus point for many of the events of the Troubles; in 1969, a fierce three-day battle against the RUC and local Protestants, known as the Battle of the Bogside, became a starting point of the Troubles.

Between 1969 and 1972, the area along with the Creggan and other Catholic areas became a no-go area for the British Army and police. Both the Official and Provisional IRA openly patrolled the area and local residents often paid subscriptions to both.

On the 30 January 1972, the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association organised a march against internment that was put into effect the year before turned into a blood bath known as Bloody Sunday. The British Parachute Regiment shot dead 14 unarmed protesters and injured 14 more; this resulted in a large surge of recruitment for both wings of the IRA in the city.

After Operation Motorman and the end of Free Derry and other no-go areas in Northern Ireland, the Bogside along with the majority of the city experienced frequent street riots and sectarian conflict lasting all the way to the early 1990s.

In 1974, the Official IRA declared an end to their armed campaign, and with volunteers on the ground already mad about the ceasefire in mid 1972, that crossed the line to hardliners. In result, Seamus Costello and other socialist militants formed the Irish Republican Socialist Movement. This new movement included the Irish National Liberation Army the paramilitary wing of the IRSM.

Derry and particularly the Bogside became one of many strongholds for the INLA; in fact all three volunteers who died in the 1981 Irish hunger strike were from Derry or County Londonderry. The Irish People’s Liberation Organisation, a breakaway group of the INLA, made a small but effective presence in Derry engaged in a feud with the INLA in the city along with other areas in Ireland from 1987 to 1992. The feud ended with the Provisionals stepping in and killing the main Belfast leadership while letting the rest of the organisation dissolve in the rest of Ireland. Throughout the rest of the 1990s, the Bogside became relatively peaceful compared to other localities of Northern Ireland at that time such as Belfast, even though street riots were still frequent. (Description from Wikipedia)

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Bikernieki Memorial near Riga, Latvia

© RicardMN Photography

© RicardMN Photography

Bikernieki Memorial (Latvian: Bikernieku memorials) is a war memorial to The Holocaust victims of World War II in Bikernieki forest, near Riga, Latvia.

Bikernieki forest is Latvia’s biggest mass murder site during The Holocaust of World War II during years 1941–44. There are 55 marked mass burial sites in the forest. About 46,500 people were reported to have been killed there, including Latvian and Western European Jews, Soviet prisoners of war, and Nazis’ political adversaries. The exact number of victims is unknown. Although Soviet Nazi War Crime Research Committee declared over 46,000 murders, later excavations did not confirm this number. The number of victims is speculated to be closer to 30,000.

The first victims were a few thousand men arrested in July 1941 and brought from Riga Central Prison. In 1942 another 12,000 Jews were brought from Germany, Austria, and Czechoslovakia. In 1943 Riga Ghetto prisoners were brought here who were unable to work at Kaizerwald concentration camp, followed by those from the camp itself unable to work in 1944. In 1943 and onwards Nazis dug up graves and burned the bodies to hide the evidence. It is estimated that there are now around 20,000 victims buried in the forest.

Bikernieki forest is the biggest mass murder site during The Holocaust in Latvia with two memorial territories spanning over 80,000 square metres (860,000 sq ft) with 55 marked burial sites with around 20,000 victims still buried in total.

The memorial was initially planned and construction started in 1986, but was delayed after Latvia declared independence in 1991. The construction was revived in 2000 by German War Graves Commission with the help of local Latvian organisations and several German cities. It was financed mostly by German government and organisations, Austrian State Fund, and involved city donations. It was designed by Sergey Rizh and opened on November 30, 2001.

The architect of the memorial is Sergey Rizh, who worked for 15 years on the design of the memorial. There are two memorial territories – 6,550 and 79,630 square metres (70,500 and 857,100 sq ft) wide on both sides from the road. In addition to smaller forest pathways, there are two roads leading to the memorial’s central square – a historic road used to bring the victims and the main central road paved with concrete slabs and marked with a concrete arc exiting to Bikernieku Street.

The centre of assembly houses a black granite cube – a symbolic altar with engraving from Book of Job 16:18 “Earth, don’t cover my blood. Let my cry have no place to rest.” in Latvian, Russian, German, and Hebrew languages. The immediate area is surrounded by 4,000 granite stones arranged in a grid of forty-five 4-by-4-metre (13 ft × 13 ft) squares, and resembles a traditional Jewish cemetery. The unique rough-hewn 0.2-to-1.5-metre (0.66 to 4.92 ft) high granite stones of black, gray, and reddish colors come from Zhytomyr region in Ukraine. The stones are carved with European city names representing the home towns of the victims. The entrances to the memorial and other grave sites in the forest are marked with concrete pillars with symbols representing various groups of the fallen – Star of David representing Jews, Crown of Thorns representing war prisoners, and Christian cross representing civilians. Historians from the New Synagogue Berlin – Centrum Judaicum, educational establishment House of the Wannsee Conference, and historians from the member cities have documented the names of over 31,000 victims, published in Book of Remembrance: The German, Austrian and Czechoslovakian Jews deported to the Baltic States (2003).

Despite the nature of memorial, the surrounding hills are a popular summer hiking and winter sledding and skiing location. Although Germany supplies annual funding for memorial maintenance, it is insufficient to fund regular police patrols and surveillance. The memorial and gravestones have been vandalised several times, each time attracting media attention.
(From Wikipedia)

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