Map of SS-designated concentration camps and subcamps, 1933–1945. Each large dot represents the main camp with the smaller dots referencing subcamps. The original map is animated to show the expansion of the camp system over time (Data source: The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Encyclopedia of Camps and Ghettos, Vol. 1 ). Alexander Yule and Anne Kelly Knowles
Map Showing Overlap of Concentration Camps and Subcamp System with Industrial Resources and Installations, 1933-1945. Each cross represents a main camp or subcamp, while the red shading indicates concentrations of the iron/steel industry and blue shading references centers of machine tool production (Data source: The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Encyclopedia of Camps and Ghettos, Vol. 1 ; source maps for industry are “Germany: Distribution of Iron and Steel Industry,” 1941 and “Germany: Distribution of the Heavy Machinery Industry,” 1939, courtesy Harvard Map Collection). Toral Patel and Anne Kelly Knowles
Map Showing the Density of Concentration Camp and Subcamp Construction, 1933-1945. Each cross represents a main camp or subcamp, and darker zones indicate denser clusters of camps(Data source: The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Encyclopedia of Camps and Ghettos, Vol. 1 ). Toral Patel and Anne Kelly Knowles
Concentration camps have become one of the most powerful symbols of the Holocaust. Many individual camps, as well as aspects of their administration and changing purposes, have been studied extensively, but few scholars have attempted to analyze the SS camp system as a whole or to describe how the many camp/subcamp networks differed from one another, particularly in regard to their use of space and spatial relationships. This case study asked how SS policy was actually manifested on the ground by tracing the location, construction dates, and function of camps from 1933 to 1945. Working at the continental scale, we hoped to illuminate the spatial and temporal dynamics of the system.
Our key data source was a historical GIS of the SS camps developed by Museum staff for volume 1 of the Center’s Encyclopedia of Camps and Ghettos, 1933–1945, published by Indiana University Press in association with the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. It contains all known “early camps,” 22 “main camps,” and more than 1,100 affiliated subcamps. Mapping these sites shows the diffusion of camps from Germany to other regions. Maps also reveal the camp systems’ spatial variations, from the concentration of the Dachau system in urban-industrial Munich to the more dispersed pattern of the Mauthausen and Buchenwald systems. Visualizing the tempo of camp construction highlights differences between the short-lived “early camps,” the build-up under Himmler from 1939 to 1944, and the massive increase in subcamps during the last 18 months of the war.
Experience: Networks, historical GIS, continental scale, mapping, diffusion, spatial variation, concentration, dispersion, uncertainty
Anne Kelly Knowles and Paul B. Jaskot, with Chester W. Harvey, Charlie Hofmann, Toral Patel, Roz Vara, and Alexander Yule