Tag Archives: snapshots

Resurrection. Not quite. A home for digital snapshots.

7 Feb

Well, this blog has been dormant for a while and its’ resurrection is unlikely. The reason why is because I am interested in different aspects of photography, from collecting photographic formulas (anyone can hop on board with that endeavor) to taking digital snapshots of people of things, from archaic photo processes to traditional analog dark room stuff.

Having all this in one place is too much. So I am launching a few separate blogs, which I hope won’t go dormant any time soon.

The first one is my digital photo stream, yes amazingly enough I secured the domain – digitalphotostream.com (if anyone wants to join me there are create a communal digital photo stream, I’d be more than happy to change the profile or to redesign the site or even make a site independent from the wordpress platform.

So here is the first post.


Hubertuskapelle in Feldsberg – the Chapel in St. Hubert near Valtice in Southern Moravia

27 Dec

I am going to use those  entries for a separate site on Southern Moravia and Weinviertel or the Wine Quarters in  Lower Austria, primarily concentrated on the immediate area around Nikolsburg (Czech Mikulov, also Nicolsburg) but because they are all illustrated with my own photographs, I’ll post them in my photography blog.

St. Hubert Chapel or Hubertuskappele near Feldsberg (Czech Valtice, Kaple svatého Huberta)

St. Hubert Chapel / Hubertuskapelle

St. Hubert Chapel / Hubertuskapelle - side view, Feldsberg, now Valtice, Moravia, Czech Republic, formely Austria - Hungary

Click  image for larger version (and contact me if you want huge ones or an actual print of some image. This story is illustrated with eight black and white analogue photographs ).

The Chapel of Saint Hubert or St. Hubertuskappele
Designed 1848
Built 1854-1855
Architect Hans Heindrich
Designed by Georg Wingelmüller
Sculptor (St. Hubert) Joseph (?) Högler
Getting there – ideally by car and then on foot. Or on car through the forest if you are adventurous enough and can find a breach to penetrate the forest.

A  (somewhat) Longish Introduction

The Chapel located on the hunting grounds of the old Liechtenstein estates between Feldsberg (now Czech Valtice) and Eisgrub (Czech Lednice).

Feldsberg was a German speaking town which was ethnically cleansed by Czech ethno-nationalists in 1945.  Though expelled locals hoped for a quick return, the exile turned out to be permanent and it will remain permanent as long as Austria, Germany and the world do nothing (and so far Germany acting as American puppet did nothing, lest American neocon ally in Prague gets somehow embarrassed or worse, inconvenienced). The “permanence” factor is there  because of so called Beneš decrees. Edvard Beneš (or Benesch) was a misanthrope and a Germanophobe who ordered disenfranchisement, expulsion and murder of some 2.5 million of own citizens because of their wrong (German) ethnicity and language.  Vaclav Havel, who died  recently (and I wrote a fitting obituary for the villain) did make an  apology, sort of, to those expelled by then democratic and pro-American Czech regime but his cheap words were soon forgotten. Beneš decrees have not yet been repealed .

This monument as well as two castles near-by – the  one at Eisgrub and another one at Feldsberg (Lednice and Valtice in Czech) belonged to the Princes von Liechtenstein who were neither Nazis nor Germans.  That fact notwithstanding their ancestral estates were expropriated and the theft was not committed by Stalinist communists but by a regime that was so-called democratic and was (as it is in its revived form) very much pro-American.

To me the story of postwar ethnic cleansing in Czechoslovakia is the ultimate example of double standards in media and education. When in the year 1968 Soviet Union and Warsaw pact quashed a fascist putsch in Czechoslovakia, the events were described as an act of beastly Oriental barbarism and a rape of a little democratic nation. The entire  comic opera Prague Spring affair of 1968 left less than 100 victims. As a comparison –  NATO killed twice as many kids per one hour in Libya. Besides half of the Prague Spring victims were Warsaw pact military personnel. On the other hand the disenfranchisement of 2.5 million people, murder of a quarter million of human being, with adolescents and children being rounded up and machined gunned among other nasty things, wholescale robbery (in fact it was probably the world’s largest single instance of robbery after Bolshevik putsch of 1917 in Russia) is either described as a triumph of popular democracy or is not talked about.

St. Hubert Chapel / Hubertuskapelle - Valtice, Feldsberg, Moravia, Czech Republic - an angel

St. Hubert Chapel / Hubertuskapelle - Valtice, Feldsberg, Moravia, Czech Republic - an angel

The chapel is located within three kilometers from Feldsberg on the so called red tourist route or red hiking path. Most people would reach it on foot. You can get there also by a car or better still by a small 4×4 if you drive through forests and swamps (as I did it my 4×4 Fiat Panda – a large SUV will  attention, displeasure of the law enforcement personnel if they see you and hopefully swift punishment. Which might as well be deserved. All big SUV owners deserve to be shot or hanged or both.

If you intend to reach  the monument by a small car the deed is probably not legal but you can always pretend you got lost and claim that you ended up there by accident.

driving into forest clearing

driving into forest clearing

The chapel is  stunning (Americans today would say awesome) because most people don’t expect to see something like that smack in the middle of a forest.  I did not expect to see something like that in a forest.

On the other hand one should keep in mind that for the past few centuries this has not been  a real forest but a carefully preserved hunting estate which admittedly had the appearance of a wild forest.

When it was built the chapel was dedicated to Saint Hubert or St. Hubertus by Princes of Liechtenstein  and it was the shrine where grace  for a successful hunt would be said to thank the Saint Hubert and no doubt to the generous Almighty himself.  I find that whole notion slightly bizarre but that’s beside the point. In Austria, and this was once Austria, and I assume also in sections of Germany the idea of hunting is different from what it was and still is in Russia (or Finland or Norway or say Canada). The element of adventure is taken entirely out of the equation.

A few months ago I met a gregarious bunch of hunters, they were either from Upper Austria or from Salzburg as they amid a party were saying thanks to Saint Hubert at an inn in Falkenstein. The tavern, a remarkably nice one, was full of hunters. The joint is called Siebenschläfer, and it has a good selection of local wine (or British would say wines, in plural) and Belgian beer (though Austrian beer is, or the British would say beers are, outstanding). The public house is named after a mouse they eat as a delicacy in parts of Western and Southwestern Europe. Siebenschläfer translates as edible dormouse and apparently folks in Slovenia still feast on those mice (never saw it on the menus there though), the Italians used to roast mice and cook them on a spit or prepare them skewered, shish kebab style, alternating little rodents with piece of eggplant (that’s aubergine to the British), succulent cuts of summer squash (or marrow) and tomatoes  while the French tossed mice into boiling water and then devoured them as midnight snacks –  or something like that if we are to believe this article about those cute squirrel-like mice and their culinary relationship with the most civilized part of the mankind (I know you are supposed to say humanity instead of mankind, but humanity is something else and that’s why I won’t –   mankind’s  crimes against humanity is a fine sentence but  in the act of boiling mice the humanity is sorely lacking) .

It was bitterly cold outside though glowingly warm inside of the cavernous stone womb of the Dormouse /  Siebenschläfer tavern,  we began talking over delicious Falkenstein wine, Grüner Veltliner went neatly down first probably, my little Nikolai was playing with other kids, or rather with their parents at the same counter,  the  tables were pulled together in a communal fashion – this was a hunters’ party. It was good. As I interrogated talkative hunters about their venatic   exploits in the shadow of their patron saint,. St. Hubert, I discovered that their adventure was so prosaic that I would hardly call it an adventure. All those good natured folks had pricey uniform-like hunters clothing, camouflaged jackets,  and were armed with high powered expensive rifles of the kind Russian defense ministry is now buying (you have to read Russian or use translate.google.com to figure out what the story is about).  The hunt took place in a private forest (well I guess the owner of the forest put a restriction on what his game can be hunted with, otherwise hunters might have as well showed up with machine guns, flame throwers, and grenade launchers). Most forests in Austria are private – and that’s good. Forests need owners. Russian forests are officially a national property but in reality nobody’s, they are mismanaged and abused by corrupt and mutated Soviet bureaucracy for the benefit of bureaucracy itself and  Russia’s thieving classes. The owner of the forest permitted the hunting party to shoot one wild boar. That’s it.  So those twenty odd or thirty people obtained a permission to exterminate one swine. Big deal. Now each of them paid 100 euros (or was it 150 euros, either or, I remember it was an outrageous amount) for the privilege of murdering a pig. The owner of the forest (and of the pig that dwells in it, I guess he has more than one) got something like 2000 or 3000 euros for letting those armed people enter his forest. Then the platoon-sized well armed gang went into the woods, found a pig and executed him (or her if that were a sow, as I did not ask what was the gender of their porcine victim). They did not get to keep the meat of the creature because the contract covered just the murder of it though not its flesh, but as I recall the man who shot the piggie got  the boar’s head as a souvenir because the brave huntsmen and huntswomen (the platoon had a few Amazons  ) were toasting to the fellow whose steady rifle shot brought the wretched swine down.

Chapel of Saint Hubert (Hubertus, Hubertuskapelle) - angels  front view, near Valtice, Feldsberg, and Lednice, Eisgrub, Moravia, Austria. now Czech Republic

Chapel of Saint Hubert (Hubertus, Hubertuskapelle) - angels group, Valtice, Feldsberg, and Lednice, Eisgrub, Moravia, Austria. now Czech Republic

A while back I met (an) American who joined the US military to kill darkies (he wanted to kill people, that’s why he said and that why he joined the infantry).  Wars waged around the globe by the Bush regime and its successor provide ample opportunities for this sort of fun in the poorer areas of the globe or even in some places that were recently affluent, like Libya, by which were reduced to poverty by American bombing, foreign invasion and imported warfare.  For  the sake of fairness it should be said that (obviously white) American also got paid for the “job” and he hoped that the taxpayer would also reimburse his tuition while my huntsmen – and huntswomen – paid, and in their case  paid a small fortune, for the dubious privilege of killing.

The Saint.
I am unsure whether rapists, child molesters, pedophiles and  murderers have their own heavenly protectors, but hunters do. Hunters got their own patron saint. He is Saint Hubert or Hubertus.

One can read about Hubertus orSt. Hubert in the Catholic Encyclopedia 

One note of coincidence – St. Hubert was a bishop of Liège (German Lüttich).

The city of Liège is located in what once were the Austrian Netherlands
but they became Belgium in the 19th century.

Here is the timeframe
Germany launched an unprovoked war of aggression against Russia on August 1, 1914.
On August 2, Germany invaded France – again without a reason or a hint of provocation.
On August 3, Germany attacked Belgium that was no threat to it.
One of the first battles of World War was the short siege of Liège which was still  longer than the Huns expected (they thought the city would fall within a day). The battle for Liège began on August 4 (Liège is right at the border) and the last fort surrendered, after having been reduced to rubble, on August 16.  Generally speaking the Belgian resistance allowed the heroic French to gain time and prevent the Bad Guys from winning the war.
Before the Germany launched its first 20th century war of aggression, Austria (or dual monarchy, Austria-Hungary) developed a special gun, a siege mortar, designed  for destruction of concrete fortifications and battering of cities that could be moved around on railroad. This was Škoda 30.5 cm Mörser M. 11 (M 11 standards for the model 1911 though it weapon was developed by 1909) and it was built by the Škoda works in Pilsen (Czech Plzeň,  it was to a large extent a German speaking town and an important industrial hub of the Austrian empire but like Southern Moravia  Pilsen was ethnically cleansed after 1945 and became fully Czech).  Austrians sent heavy 305.5 mortars to Germany together with own  crews, who wore German uniforms and manned the mortars. Those guns began the world war – by destroying forts of Liège and bombarding Antwerp and Namur.  German Nazis also used them in the Second World war against people of France and later Soviet Union, in the sieges of Sebastopol (Sevastopol) and Stalingrad but their carrier began in Belgium’s Wallonia.

The nasty part about is that Austria however was not at war with Belgium. It was at peace. Austria’s criminal ally, Germany,  forced the monarchy to declare war against Belgium only on 28 August 1914, that is almost two weeks after last fort of Liège, destroyed by Austrian siege mortars,  fell. That struck me as not exactly chivalrous.  Treacherous.  Sort of American 20th century style. Bad As bad as Austria’s treasonous neutrality in the Crimean War (another worthy subject to explore at a later time).

Here the  story of St. Hubert or Hubertus takes on many twists.
St. Hubert also happens to be the patron saint of arms makers. He was the bishop of Liège.  Liège, which Herstal neighborhood is home to  FN Fabrique Nationale,  is now the largest surviving firearms manufacturing center in Western Europe.
The guns that destroyed forts of Liege and killed its defenders and civilians were made in Pilsen.
As a result of the war which first battle was for the city where St. Hubert was bishop, Austria lost Pilsen along with the rest of the empire. In fact a new state, improbable and implausible before in 1917, that of Czechoslovakia was created and this Chapel of St. Hubertus happened to end on its territory (though on a private estate which was later stolen).

This  intertwining chain of coincidences is eerie.


St. Hubertus Chapel - front view of  Hubertuskapelle - front view, near Valtice, Feldsberg, and Lednice, Eisgrub, Moravia, Austria. now Czech Republic

St. Hubertus Chapel - front view of Hubertuskapelle - front view, near Valtice, Feldsberg, and Lednice, Eisgrub, Moravia, Austria. now Czech Republic

The architect was Hans Heindrich (probably Johannes or Johann as Hans is just form of Christian Johannes) Heindrich who used earlier design by Georg Wingelmüller.  Hans Heindrich  was probably a household architect of Liechtensteins and I did not find any of his work outside of this immediate region. Georg Wingelmüller was another House of Liechteinstein architect. He rebuilt the castle at Eisgrub (Lednice) into a flamboyant neo-Gothic fantasy and  transformed old Renaissance structures into one of the world most spectacular palatial estates, no longer a castle in any sense.

Czechoslovak state (illegally) expropriated the Eisgrub castle after Second World War and the Czech state still keeps it.    The architecture of the castle or palace is majestic – though for some reason the Czechs stubbornly use the French word chateau in all of their English language pamphlets and tourist propaganda, but that’s a subject for another entry. I could never figure out why do they write chateau because the word and the context is so alien and it is certainly not a “chateau” in English.  The architecture of the palace or castle is magnificent but it is also somewhat artificial.

Like the  architecture of this chapel which also appears “imported”, alien.

Wingelmüller was born in 1810 and died young, in 1848. He left more architectural legacy than did dozens of ordinary architects who lived into their  80s or 90s.  At the tender age of 15, in the year 1825,  Liechtensteins sent young Georg to England to study architecture.  What he brought back was a spirit of (secretly Catholic, Norman and ultimately French) Gothic revival that just began to sprout in England and which later grew into such grandiose neo-Gothic fakes like the Houses of Parliament.  The  Parliament  building in Budapest is another obvious (magnificent) fake, one on steroids, and although I am unfamiliar with its history and it does look like a much newer structure,  I suspect it has similar roots and its creators drew inspiration from the same source.

When I saw the Chapel of St. Hubert (Hubertuskapelle) first I thought of a scaled down and resized Prince Albert Memorial in London, chubbier without the latter’s ridiculous spire.


The sculpture of St. Hubert in the middle of the composition is the work of Anton Joseph Högler. Local guides  like the one created and maintained by Dieter Friedl , that’s just the Feldsberg part of it  – Believe me the thing is far more monumental than the Chapel of St. Hubert itself, in fact despite its modest appearance it is the size of a major Internet cathedral) attributes the authorship to  Joseph Högler. I went through the Austrian Biographical Lexicon (Österreichisches Biographisches Lexikon) and found no sculptor named Joseph Högler in it but fair enough there were two sculptors with last name Högler who lived almost around the time of Chapel creation.

St. Hubert or Hubertus at the Hubertuskapelle - front view, near Valtice, Feldsberg, and Lednice, Eisgrub, Moravia, Austria. now Czech Republic

St. Hubert or Hubertus at the Hubertuskapelle - front view, near Valtice, Feldsberg, and Lednice, Eisgrub, Moravia, Austria. now Czech Republic

These were Anton Högler (1774 – 1850) and Franz Högler (1802 – 1855). To make matters worse there  was also Anton Josef Högler ( 1705-1786) who was German, or rather Bavarian but worked in Austria (all Austrians except inhabitants of Voralberg are linguistic relatives of Bavarians, at least Anton Josef Högler found speech in Niederösterreich relatively easy as opposed to a Prussian to whom the local tongue sounded as alien as  Dutch). Anton Josef Högler was rather famous and he worked on decorating a number of churches besides painting and drawing and he left a substantial  legacy.
(http://www.arcadja.com/auctions/en/h%C3%B6gler_franz/artist/276591/). Unfortunately any search on Anton Högler would return results on Josef Anton instead.  I  faced a dead end. I remember my astonishment when I discovered the grave of Hilaire Belloc in Parisian Père Lachaise cemetery. To me Père Lachaise is one of the most holiest places on earth, the concentration of people whom I consider great there gives me goosebumps. Now although I speak English, and I happen to speak the American variety, I’ve never belonged to their cultural sphere. There are a few American writers that I like, some whom I worship, one great  still is still among us (and let him live to 120), Gore Vidal, and  who alas –  already dead Kurt Vonnegut is in my pantheon, but I would have a great difficulty gathering more than a dozen  Americans in one place who could inspire anyone save their fellow countrymen – yes, money lenders, thieves, speculators, mass murderers, victims of political assassinations, preachers. It would be difficult to put together an American equivalent of something that was 30 times smaller than the Père Lachaise.  Britain is a bit difficult of course. You can walk around London book in hand and look at the blue signs  – who was there and when – and then suddenly it comes like a jolt of electricy, oh he was here, and you ponder life’s meaning, stuff  mortality and immortality.   of London cemeteries are “outstanding” though beats Père Lachaise.  So it was like with Högler, I was walking through Père Lachaise and saw the grave of Hilaire Belloc. Now Belloc is one of my favorite poets, he is insightful and brave author. I translated his beautiful books of verse for children into Russian (The Bad Child’s Book of Beasts and equally outrageous More Beasts for Worse Children).  I worship Belloc – though of course there are some other 20th century English poets but I would place Belloc in the first top dozen. Read his beautiful Christmas carol that I put there right below quadriptych of a fish being massacred for the sacrificial Christmas dinner .   I was astonished to find Hilaire Belloc grave in Père Lachaise  – even he got here! But then how come, and  I paused – Hilare Belloc was buried in England. It took me a while to figure out (I am not a faster thinker) that this must be different Hilaire Belloc. Perhaps a relative. In fact it was. In that case this was thepainter  and founder of the École Nationale de dessin, sculpture et architecture Jean-Hilaire Belloc, who died four years before his great literary namesake was born.  Same with Joseph Högler?

St. Hubert Chapel - side view of  St Hubert - front view, near Valtice, Feldsberg, and Lednice, Eisgrub, Moravia, Austria. now Czech Republic

Chapel of Saint Hubert - side view of St Hubert sculptural composition - near Valtice, Feldsberg, and Lednice, Eisgrub, Moravia, Austria. now Czech Republic

Anton Josef Högler ( 1705-1786) was not a Joseph and worked almost a century before the sculpture was created.
Franz Högler (1802 – 1855) was not a Joseph because he was Franz, Francis, and he died the year the Chapel of St. Hubert was completed. He is a possible author of the sculpture but since the only source I have names some Joseph Högler, how can one be sure that Franz made it?
Anton Högler (1774 – 1850) is of course also a candidate, his second Christian name might have been Joseph but alas he also died four years before the construction of the Chapel.
Summary – certainly worth seeing if you are around, a landmark of otherwise landmark-rich (a UN heritage area) Feldsberg, Eisgrub and Nikolsburg or in Czech that would Valtice, Lednice and Mikulov triangle.

Camera:     Rollei SLX
Film:        Rollei RPX 100 (it looks like rebadged cold-stored Agfapan APX 100)
Developed in Rodinal

Path in the forest or woods near St. Hubert Chapel / Hubertuskapelle - Valtice, Feldsberg, Moravia, Czech Republic -

Path in the forest or woods near St. Hubert Chapel / Hubertuskapelle - Valtice, Feldsberg, Moravia, Czech Republic - once Austria (Austria-Hungary)