Spatially Analyzing Jewish Experiences during the Holocaust in Węgrów County, Poland

The Nameless Geographies of the Holocaust: A Spatial Analysis of Jewish Experiences in Węgrów County Poland

This project involves using ArcGIS software to represent and analyze data collected by Dr. Grabowski pertaining to Jewish experiences in Węgrów County, Poland. The result has been a number of maps, which contribute to knowledge not only of Węgrów County, but also more broadly of Jewish experiences and survival strategies during the Holocaust in rural Poland. The central question that directed this part of the project was as follows: What were the geographic factors that influenced Jewish experiences during the Holocaust in Węgrów County, Poland? In order to respond to this question, three diverse maps were created. Initially, locations and dates of murders of Jews throughout Węgrów County during the period of the war were mapped using ArcGIS and represented by cluster analysis. Subsequently, the same analysis was performed on data representing the location of Jewish survivors at the time of liberation. These two maps highlighted that factors such as proximity to railway tracks, forests, and German and Polish police stations greatly influenced death and survival patterns. Simply put, how geographic factors made certain people more vulnerable than others. Finally, a deep map was created to incorporate primary documents and visual data. This final map responds to a concern regarding the ethical issues associated with spatially representing Jewish life and death during the Holocaust voiced by a number of scholars, in the sense that it reifies the Nazi gaze. The deep map brings into focus the individual lives that were disrupted and destroyed during the Holocaust; placing unique visual sources within a historical map of the county. Moving forward, post-war data and data pertaining to other counties will be added.

Graduate Researchers:

Fiona Davidson
Department of Geography, Environment and Geomatics
University of Ottawa

Miranda Brethour
Department of History
University of Ottawa


About holocaust

The goal of the Holocaust Research Group (HRG) is to bring together scholars and students interested in the study of the Holocaust and to create a forum for intellectual exchange for its members and for our guests from outside the University community. The HRG will encourage its members to build and to pursue joint research projects and to seek collaboration with researchers both in Canada, and abroad. HRG is an interdisciplinary community of scholars that includes historians, political scientists and sociologists. In addition to regular Faculty, the HRG welcomes student participants, undergraduates, graduates and postgraduates who will be able not only to present their research but also to become involved in the ongoing research projects of the members of the Group. HRG organizes, on monthly basis, open seminars and invites scholars from outside the university community. Our mandate includes also the organization on campus of the University of Ottawa of learned meetings and conferences.
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