Holocaust Mobilities: Journeys Through Minsk

Authors: Seth Kudym*, University of Nebraska - Omaha
Topics: Historical Geography, Geographic Information Science and Systems, Temporal GIS
Keywords: Holocaust, mobilities, HGIS, temporal, GIS, narratives, historical
Session Type: Poster
Day: 4/12/2018
Start / End Time: 3:20 PM / 5:00 PM
Room: Napoleon Foyer/Common St. Corridor, Sheraton, 3rd Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Seth Kudym, MA Advisor: Dr. Christina Dando This research focused on the journey/escape of Holocaust survivors, centered around Minsk, the capital city Belarus. It asks beyond “How did people survive the Holocaust?” to “What types of transportation did they use?” and “Where did they go after the war and why?” Drawing on recent geographic research in “mobility,” it examines how people, places, and things interact with each other, promoting mobility or resulting in immobilities (“stillness” and “waiting”). Thirty Holocaust audiovisual survivor accounts from USC’s Shoah Visual History Archive were examined using narrative analysis, viewing each as “scripts” to be analyzed at multiple levels. Journeys were compared on sex, ages, and country of origin lines. Access tables containing personal, locational, and trip information were joined to a file geodatabase, housing point data. Temporal data was acquired from direct statements from survivors or was a best guess. The Network Analysis tool in ArcMap 10.5 visualized these journeys as 30 individual routes through both space and time. Results showed journeys were seldom “smooth sailing,” but rather composed of multiple starts and stops, periods of “stillness” and “waiting” (e.g. time spent imprisoned, at forced labor sites, in hiding). Trains provide a means of escape but also transport to work and/or death camps. This work contributes to the rapidly growing fields of HGIS and mobilities work, and provides an example to geographers and GIS users on how their research skills can benefit the field of Holocaust & Genocide studies.

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