Digital Studies of the Holocaust

This collaborative research project aims to introduce new ways of seeing and remembering the Holocaust. The project initially focused on implementing geographic information systems (GIS) to dissect the complex process of the mass killing of Jews in Europe during WWII. However, it soon became apparent that spatial analysis of deportations is only one aspect of what big data science could contribute to the study of the Holocaust in the digital age.

Together, the team has developed an interactive and user-friendly tool that can serve to analyze larger shifts in the pattern of deportations across Europe, detailing victims from specific urban centers and countries, while visualizing the experience of individual victims. One of the features of this tool is the ability to visualize in one circos plot (see image below), which offers a comprehensive view of the deportations of Holocaust victims from the German Reich, Belgium, France, Luxemburg, Greece, Italy and Netherlands from 1939-1945. In addition, the user is able to limit the visualizations to their choice of one or more of the previously mentioned countries along with the option to select certain points in time.

Screenshot of the interactive website. The circos plot represents the result of the search inquiry of deportations from the German Reich in 1941.
Screenshot of the interactive website (website is password protected. For access email [email protected]). The circos plot represents the result of the search inquiry of deportations from the German Reich in 1941.

There are several promising ways this feature could be used in Holocaust studies classrooms, especially given that the circos plot is accompanied with a detailed timeline of major historical events from both WWII and the Holocaust. This ambitious project also aims to shed light on the all-encompassing nature of the Holocaust by expanding the scope of experiences beyond those of European populations to include other victim groups from all over the globe. Visualizing the deportations of Jewish victims from countries on the periphery, such as Western Europe, North Africa, and Latin America, opens up windows into the entirety of the Holocaust.
In addition, the website provides an interactive timeline of the events of the Holocaust and WWII.
The interactive website also provides an interactive timeline of the events of the Holocaust and WWII.

Team:

This ongoing project is led by Dr. Nils Roemer, who created a diverse team who bring their unique skillsets together.

The Digital Studies of the Holocaust initiative is supported by the Ackerman Center for Holocaust Studies and by the RFTF2 endowment.

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