Gargzdai (Gorzd), Lithuania

Notes concerning Gorsdy Postcards -
Rönne family; Bridge over Minija River; Minijos gatve (Street)

Postcards provided courtesy of S. Arthur Boruchoff, M.D.

This page concerns two of the postcards which Dr. Henry and Frances Boruchoff obtained on their trip to Lithuania in 1923. The two cards are based on the identical photograph, as is shown by the location of the people on the road.

The same postcard also appears in the Gorzd Memorial Book, p. 11 [Image 490], posted by the New York Public Library.

The building at the far left of the lower postcard is the chapel. For a present day view of the chapel, click here.  Yellow peak of chapel roof is also visible in the following view from the foot of Minijos gatve, which is the street from the north center of Gargzdai to the Minija River:

minijos gatve with chapel

The buildings at right of postcards (the tower and roofless building, evidently part of the palace) had been part of the estate of the Rönne family. A history of the family is given in Janina Valanciute, Gargzdu miesto ir parapijos istorija, Vilnius: Diemedzio Leidykla, 1998 (ISBN 9986-23-047-0). The English summary at page 503 indicates that the owner of the estate from 1875 to 1895 was Baron Eugenijus Rönne, and then his widow Gabriele until 1912. The estate suffered damage during World War I. The absence of a roof in the postacard photos may reflect this wartime damage.

The Baron's sister Anele owned lands on the east bank of the Minija, which gave rise to the placename Anieliske (or Anielin).  For further information about lands owned by the Rönne family, see the following sections of the present site:
     Greetings from Garsden (Palace) 
     Blick von Schlossplatz (View from Palace Grounds)

For further information about the Rönne family, see Family von Rönne in the Baltics, page 28 (VR 194c)  - information about Felix II Baron Rönne (b. ca. 1797), his son Eugene Baron Rönne (1830 - 1895), Eugene's wife Gabriela Princess Oginska, and Eugene's sister, Aniele Amalia Baroness Rönne. For additional information about the Rönne family (in German) and picture of Eugene Baron Rönne, see Baron Rönne in Litauen, page 14 (VR063a). Eugene was a noted poet and dramatist. See also genealogy pages at regarding Aniela Helena Mielżyńska (Rönne), Eugeniusz von Rönne, Feliks Filip von Rönne and Baron Felix von Rönne.

In Yiddish, the Baron was called the "Graff," Gorzd Memorial Book, p. 43 [Image 458], which means "Count" or "Earl." A. Harkavy, Yiddish - English - Hebrew Dictionary (YIVO Institute, 1928). He is mentioned in Gordz as she lives in Our Memory, by Yehudis Lashem, in the Jewishgen Translation of the Gordz Memorial Book.

The Town Diagram in the Gorzd Memorial Book [Image 12], indicates that the bridge pictured in the postcards is an overpass over a road or path, and was not the bridge over the Minija. This small bridge appears on one available map - Russian Military, ca. 1910 (1:50,000) (see pink arrow below), which shows that this path led to the Jewish Cemetery. This map also contains the symbol for a mill (green arrow), which may be the building in the mid-foreground of the postcard.

Comparison between the aerial photos of January, 1945, and the 1886 Russian map of estate lands, while not an exact process, suggests that the palace shown in the postcards had not yet been constructed in 1886.  In the diagrams below, red arrow points to approximate location of palace, which seems to be north of building shown on the map.  The 1886 map may show the brewery (purple arrow), ruins of which are visible in the aerials.

1886 locate
                brewery and palace brewery and
                palace location

The configuration of Minijos gatve and the bridge over the Minija changed many times over the past 150 years. Following is an attempt to identify the various phases:

I.   Road heads from Catholic cemetery through town center directly to river and approximately straight across. See Russian Empire (1866-1872); Prussian General Staff Map (1860); Karte des Deutschen Reiches (1860 - 1880; supplemented 1910).

1880 bridge
Bridge location ca. 1860 (?)
Karte des Deutschen Reiches (1860 - 1880; supplemented 1910)
Enlarged view

Janina Valanciute, Gargzdu miesto ir parapijos istorija, Vilnius: Diemedzio Leidykla, 1998 (ISBN 9986-23-047-0), pp. 501-502, says that in the first half of the nineteenth century, a bridge was built at Bravoras Mountain Way, which was the southern border between the Estate lands and the town.

Aerials from 1945 may show a street, path or alley roughly parallel to the more prominent Minijos gatve, south of the brewery ruins, and roughly opposite the road to the Catholic cemetery - a possible remnant of the original Bravoras Mountain Way and the first approach to the bridge?  At the present time, Bravoro kalno (Brewery hill) seems to be an alternate name for Minijos gatve described in Section III below.  See Kestutis Demereckas and Ruta Cirtautaite, Gargzdai, Klaipeda: Libra Memelensis, 2003 (ISBN 9955-544-12-0), pp. 34-35.

158 and 157
                    with arrows
Blend of aerial # 157 and # 158 (January 16, 1945)
Red arrows show possible remnant of original Bravoras Mountain Way.
  Yellow arrow shows brewery ruins. Light green arrow shows chapel.
Brewery may be visible in pre-war postcard of Minijos gatve at (group # 5)

A segment of this street also is visible north of the Catholic church in the 1939 diagram of the fire.

Comparison of aerial with 1886 Russian map suggests that this old street shown in the aerials followed a path roughly like the purple arrow shown below, i.e. along the border between the southern "green" area on the map and the town. The old street shown in the aerials did not follow the blue arrow shown below.

1886 bridge routes

The older maps, such as the Karte des Deutschen Reiches above, appear to show the road following the blue arrow.  It is unclear whether this difference represents a limit in accuracy to the older maps, or instead whether there was an earlier road following the blue arrow.

II.    Russian Map of Estate Lands (1886) shows that the bridge was moved slightly south, and angled somewhat more to the northeast when crossing the river from west to east.  Valanciute, p. 502 says bridge was reconstructed in 1853-54, and in 1864-67, and its "location was slightly changed."  

1886 bridge blended18601880 1862 for
                  bridge approach
Bridge in 1886
Map does not show location of approach road to bridge from west.
Blended view comparing Bridge in 1860 (?) and 1886 Strip from 1862, showing church lands,
 added to 1886 map

Note: placement of strip is uncertain

Russian Map of Estate Lands does not show the town proper or roads within it, and therefore does not indicate the approach to the new bridge from the west. 

III.   Minijos gatve heads east from town center crossing Estate lands; curves south of Baron's palace; curves to south before reaching wooden bridge across Minija. See above Gorzdy postcard and 1910 Russian military map; Gruss aus Garsden postcard; Karte des Deutschen Reiches (1913 - 1915); wooden bridge pictured in postcard at, #15; Valanciute, p. 109; and in Musu Lietuva, Lietuviu Enciklopedijos Leidykla, Vol. 4, p. 349 (1968). Photo of wooden bridge shows roof on Baron's palace, indicating the bridge was built prior to destruction caused by WWI.

1913 and 1886

Above: Blended view of 1913 - 1915 Karte des Deutschen Reiches, and 1886 Map of Estate Lands, showing Minijos gatve crossing  Estate.  See also the comparison between 1886 map and 1945 aerial photos for an indication of how Minijos gatve crossed estate lands.

Note: The 1921-29 map (Karte des Deutschen Reiches (1921 - 1929) shows the bridge further to the south than in 1913 - 1915, and approximately even with the extended line of the road to Klaipeda/Memel. The apparent change of the bridge's position between 1915 and 1929 is probably not due to relocation of the bridge, but instead to differences in accuracy of the maps involved, or different map projections. See the animations comparing the maps, 1872-1978.  The 1921-29 map places Anielin further to the south than shown in several of the other maps. 


IV.   Minijos gatve leads to concrete bridge.  Photos of concrete bridge at Kestutis Demereckas and Ruta Cirtautaite, Gargzdai, Klaipeda: Libra Memelensis, 2003 (ISBN 9955-544-12-0), p. 21; Valanciute, pp. 114 and 146. Valanciute indicates at p.508 that a concrete bridge was constructed over the Minija in 1926-27.  The 1929 Karte des Deutschen Reiches appears unchanged from 1921 and does not reflect any changes caused by construction of the concrete bridge. Concrete bridge is shown on postcard photo taken from top of Minijos gatve, at, group # 5 (second postcard).

V.    Direct road constructed from town center to bridge. See Birman photo October, 1937; Lithuanian Army Topographic (1938); photo postcard of road construction at, group # 5 (third postcard). 

VI.   Concrete bridge demolished by retreating German army towards conclusion of the war. Valanciute, p. 508. Aerial photo shows entire bridge was not demolished. Instead a portion of the span was destroyed.

VII. Aerial photo, January 16, 1945 shows temporary military bridge to south of bombed concrete bridge. 

VIII. Present bridge rebuilt in 1955. Valanciute, p. 508.

Other sources of information:

Postard from ca. 1930 showing Minijos g. from the top and showing brewery on right. at #5

Gargzdai Area Museum announcing an exhibit regarding the history of bridge. The announcement summarizes the history, and includes a 1949 photograph showing reconstruction after the War.

Aerial photo of current bridge on Google Earth.

Animation comparing 1860-1880 KDR; 1886 map of Estate lands, 1910 Russian Military; 1913-1915 KDR; and 1945 aerials

Landing at foot of Minijos gatve -
possible remnant of a prior bridge?
View of river and pilings from landing. A resident of Gargzdai indicates these pilings are not remnants of a bridge, but instead are to protect the bridge from ice in winter.

View of landing and pilings from bridge Bridge in 2001

Gargzdai main page

Gorsdy Postcard

This page updated 3/23/2020

Copyright © 2004 - 2020 John S. Jaffer