Animating the Jäger Aktions: Einsatzkommando 3 in Lithuania


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Presentation given at AAG 2009 by Alex Yule and Robert Burton

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  • EinsatzgruppenFollowed Wehrmacht (German Army) as they invaded Soviet territory during Operation BarbarossaTasked with the elimination of “undesirable populations” from captured lands to prepare for German settlementVictims: Jews, Gypsies, Communists Precurors to/Inspiration for extermination camp system
  • Compiled by Karl Jager Commander of the Security police for LithuaniaSummary Records 137,346 deaths July 2, 1941 to December 1, 1941 Delineations:a. Jewish Men, Women and Childrenb. Communists, Gypsies, etc...c. Ethnicity/Religion/Nationality
  • a. Data Organization: Creating the database i. Compiled as a spatiotemporal geodatabase ii. The challenge: modeling these events in a mappable fashion iii. Geocoding of Historical German placenames 1. Multiple gazetteers 2. Problematic nature of mapping former Shtetls: a. Informal Jewish settlements b. Many were completely obliterated by the EG, and thus, no longer exist c. PLACE AS EVENT 3. GEOnet Nameserver for Lat/Long 4. Imported into ArcGIS as X/Y cords iv. For unmatched place names, used various internet sources Recovered all but one problem point (Jahiunai). v. Graphs breaking down death counts by group 1. Show graphs 2. Fits secondary research question: Was there an order to commence the final solution? When was it given? (hypothesis: yes) a. Clear shift in targeting from political to blatantly civilian (including Women/Children)
  • i. Different patterns of movement depending on scale of analysis 1. ‘Small scale’ = Show big map, linear progression a. Small scale both temporally and spatially b. Long-term trend was linear (HQ’s) Higher spatiotemporal detail = more chaotic distribution 1.
  • Show “EG in 10 seconds” a. Semi-autonomous units b. Clearly imparts more information than tabular data and textual reports alone
  • Animating the Jäger Aktions: Einsatzkommando 3 in Lithuania

    1. 1. Animating the Jäger Aktions : Ek3 in Lithuania <ul><li>Alexander Yule & Robert Burton </li></ul><ul><li>Middlebury College </li></ul><ul><li>23 March 2009 </li></ul>
    2. 2. Introduction <ul><li>Geographies of the Holocaust project </li></ul><ul><li>Collaboration: USHMM, Professor Anne Knowles PhD, NSF </li></ul><ul><li>Context: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>An exceptionally well-documented instance of state-sponsored murder </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Exciting new partnerships and data sources </li></ul></ul>
    3. 3. Research Questions <ul><li>How can we create a meaningful visual representation of the Einsatzgruppen massacres? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Analytical avenues: Scale, linearity, strategy, coordination (or lack thereof), organizational context </li></ul></ul><ul><li>“Hypothesis”: Animation </li></ul>
    4. 5. Karl Jäger
    5. 6. Geodatabase
    6. 7. Complications <ul><li>Issues with geocoding historic German names for Lithuanian places that no longer exist </li></ul><ul><li>(In)consistency of temporal resolution </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Dunaburg: 10,000 dead over 39 days vs. Daily death tolls elsewhere </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Solution: Transform into death rate </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Assumes constant rate of killing (unlikely) </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>Victim breakdown data </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Same as above, also used averages to fill holes </li></ul></ul>
    7. 8. Mapping <ul><ul><li>Initial attempts: Use tweens to show movement </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Complete chaos (and assumes far too much) </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Daily snapshots </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>ArcMap » Flash (vector) </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Loss of spatial reference info... (future: read straight from geodatabase) </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>ArcMap Animator » PNG .mov » Photoshop » Flash (raster) </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Flash as ideal delivery platform </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Ability to add dynamic fields/controls and interactivity (some day) </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Symbology: Proportional points sized by death rates, beginning date and end date </li></ul></ul>
    8. 12. Discussion <ul><li>Questions: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>How did their activity develop over space and time? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>How does this add to our understanding of their operational strategy? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Perspectives on linearity </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Holocaust historiography: intentional vs. functional </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Further study needed </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Need for more sources, especially survivor/spectator accounts </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Research individual massacres (i.e. Dunaburg) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Technical animating issues (Arc Animator is horrible!!!!!) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Vector-based workflow needed </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Spatial History Lab at Stanford </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Read straight from geodatabase into Flash! (coming soon) </li></ul></ul></ul></ul>
    9. 13. Conclusion <ul><li>Animation is useful as both an exploratory and analytical device, as well as a visceral, experiential means of communication. </li></ul><ul><li>The animated maps, and their underlying conceptualizations, offer an innovative perspective on historical events encoded in tabular data. </li></ul><ul><li>Audience: Visceral and accessible without sacrificing academic integrity or precision. Valuable to both scholars and the general public! </li></ul>