OT worker Vital (Bertrand) Liebermann (left) sent this photo to his cousins in Antwerp in July 1943, while he was held at the Les Mazures labour camp. (Source: Kazerne Dossin – Fonds Erlich-Liberman, KD_00365
and to invite a broad audience to engage with both the statistical research and the personal stories. We envisioned the results of both approaches to be included in academic publications and in a product for a wider audience such as a – commemorative and/or educational – website or app. Although we initially thought of mapping as an ‘easy access’, the data gathered on the families’ movements and timing of their arrest also led to additional research questions, incorporating the mapping element as a third important research step for the Left Behind project. The visualisation of the data on both the complete population of OT families as well as on individual workers and their families, created an extra value/layer in the analysis as the maps also allowed us to pose additional research questions: e.g. Did OT relatives live in the same areas as the other Jews in Antwerp or is there a geographical distinction? And were the relatives deported earlier or later than non-relatives?
As a small institute, however, Kazerne Dossin was faced with very limited experiences with mapping, and especially visualising stories via maps. Wolfgang Schellenbacher (DÖW) was so kind as to guide us through the possible outcomes and to create maps for the project. Kazerne Dossin delivered an overview of the addresses of the families, which he transformed into geo-coordinates. Via trial and error we learned how to ‘clean up’ the addresses included in the datasets. A few streets mentioned in the 1940 registers do not exist anymore today and need to be set out approximately where the streets used to be, and in some cases, the numbering of the houses in some of the streets may have changed, leading to less precise indications of the exact houses for a small amount of data in the historical dataset. Three heat maps were created via QGIS, a free and open-source cross-platform, which gave a visual overview of the dispersion of the OT families in Antwerp and especially the concentration of these families, mostly within the Jewish neighbourhood of Antwerp. The three maps all focused on the city, but from a different height, thus showing more details or less, depending on the area that was shown on each map.