Pelle Hansen & Therkel Straede

Pelle Mose Hansen – I am M.A. in contemporary History, educated at the University of Southern Denmark in 2019. I am responsible for GIS and IT on the project ‘The Danish Jews in Theresienstadt’. My primary research area is Nazism- and Holocaust-studies. I have a massive interest in working with Holocaust survivors memoirs and analyzed them with different theoretical approaches from neurology, sociology and human geography.

Therkel Straede, Prof. of Contemporary History at the University of Southern Denmark, Odense. Leader of the project 'Danish Jews in Theresienstadt: Topography and Memory'. For 25 years, my focus in research and teaching has been the history of Nazism and the Holocaust. Among other topics, I have published on Denmark 1940-45, the OCT.’43 Jewish rescue, the Nazi concentration camps, and German occupational policy in the occupied Soviet areas 1941-45.


'The Danish Jews in Theresienstadt: Topography and Memory'

Abstract of presentation for Holocaust Studies in the Digital Age. What’s New? on 2 July 2019

What does digital mapping add to memory studies? How can the mapping of large numbers of survivors’ memoirs and life-story video-interviews make patterns and forms of remembering visible that are otherwise difficult to detect? How does landscape/cityscape and memory interact in the narrati-ves of Holocaust survivors? And how can mapping bring us closer to under-standing the emotions that they attached to specific places and spaces, as they spoke, and at the time of the experience itself? Digital mapping not only provides educators with new didactical tools, it also raises new research questions and throws new light on the role of categories like gender, social class and ethnic group/identity for memory, as well as for the past reality that is being remembered.

A 2018 QGIS-based project with graduate students from the University of Southern Denmark, Odense, explored these and other questions, and sought for answers in written and oral testimonies of Jews who were deported to Theresienstadt from Denmark and spent 1943-45 in the special ghetto. The database covers more than every tenth Jews, who was deported from Denmark. The mapping of each of the individual testimonies was supplemen-ted by field work in Terezin, and the interaction between the digital mapping and the on-site exploration of its physical environment which is quite unchanged since the ghetto times, made it possible to solve many questions of interpretation and emotions, and enrich the reading of indi-vidual texts as well as detect findings and patterns that spurn interest-ing new questions and thus make individuals and groups stand out clearer.

The project results were published at the 75th anniversary of the German “Judenaktion” in Denmark in Oct. 2018 in the form of the website, which – apart from generating new research questions – has proven its value as a tool to be used for virtual Theresienstadt city walks in school classrooms as well as helping individual and group visitors to Terezin visualize life during the time of the ghetto and the experience of the inmates.

Pelle Mose Hansen

Therkel Straede
University of Southern Denmark