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.


Name Description
Fiona Davidson Department of Geography, Environment and Geomatics University of Ottawa
Miranda Brethour Department of History University of Ottawa