Necrocartography: Topographies and topologies of dispersed Shoah

Mass graves and sudden ruins
are out of the picture.

Wisława Szymborska, Map1

The inner compass, which worked so well in so many places, is out of order in Muranów. The only thing one can do now is circle around and around, trying to assemble a whole out of pieces that don’t fit together.

Beata Chomątowska, Stacja Muranów2

Driving in circles

Reduced to Silence, the blog of the British artist Roz Mortimer, documents sites of historical catastrophes that have become lost in the landscape as they have remained uncommemorated. In 2012, she devoted a series of entries to Bielcza, a small village in the Lesser Poland Voivodeship with an unmemorialised site where twenty-eight Roma were executed in July 1942.3 Three out of the four parts of her Bielcza cycle rely on photography and video to record such disappearances in the landscape – the inherent indistinguishability, and visual latency, of uncommemorated sites of past violence. However, one of the entries, Bielcza III – Driving in Circles, is of a very different character. The blog entry is illustrated with a cadastral map of the borough of Borzęcin, where Bielcza is located (fig. 1). It features three points, not far from each other, marked with a pink felt-tip pen. The first is a church, originally shown on the map. The second, with no equivalent in the legend, is marked with the hand-written explanation “cem”, which stands for cemetery. The third one remains unexplained in the legend, but is accompanied by a post-it note attached to the map with the short description: “small asphalt rd. / shrine / 20 m away from rd.” The artist recounts the circumstances of this improvised correction to the map as follows:

In Adam Bartosz’s [organiser of the Roma Caravan Memorial initiative, commemorating the genocide of Roma people in Lesser Poland – authors’ note] office earlier that day he had pulled out maps to show me the exact location of this place. He said “it’s between the houses and the bushes, you will see an indentation in the earth” and drew me a diagram on a post it note. It took us 2 days to find. The forest was overgrown. We drove in circles around the village scrutinizing every indentation. Was this the place? Did it feel like the place? Could we feel anything?

Following Adam Bartosz’s request, Mortimer receives help in finding the execution site from a woman who witnessed certain events in 1942:

On the morning of the second day he arranged for her to be waiting for us. She took me by the hand and led me into the forest. “This is the place” she said. She remembered when it had happened in 1942 and she was distressed that the place had become so unkempt and overgrown.4

Fig. 1. Photograph of Roz Mortimer’s map. Source:

Bielcza III – Driving in Circles is an abridged account of the process of reaching the site – driving in circles, wandering around the area, getting lost, straining to identify the place – rather than a phenomenological analysis of the condition of “post-disaster spaces”.5 We are interested in how the journey’s initial farce and eventual happy ending take place in her bid to find an unmarked site of violence as described in the brief blog entry and conveyed by means of an annotated old map. The overgrown site of the execution in Bielcza, twenty metres from a shrine and near a rural road, in a hamlet away from the town centre, seemingly subordinates itself to the topographic order: its coordinates are regulated by the traditional categories of distance and border. It can be circled with a pink felt-tip pen so that it in no way differs from the other two landmarks in that geography: the cemetery and the church. And yet, in practice, topography fails here.

The difficulties in locating the site of the atrocity in Bielcza result not only from the British artist’s inability to orientate herself in the local topography, due to her status as a stranger, a visitor. Recognizing the place challenges the traditional orders of measuring and schematizing; it depends on the relational gesture of pointing, which removes an indistinguishable location from the level of “somewhere there” and shifts it to the specificity of “it’s here”. It adds the dimension of time and history to the domain of uniform space. The visitors need to be guided to the execution site by a local – not only a witness of events, but also a user of that space almost since time immemorial, merged with the landscape to no lesser extent than the spot behind the shrine. When we ourselves visited Bielcza for the first time, we too circled around and around. Trying to reach the execution site, we followed what had appeared to be specific directions. We compared them to the layouts of the streets as they updated on our mobile phone screens and to the tangible road signs we saw through the car window. No matter, we searched that small space for a long time. And we too ultimately needed locals to lead us to our destination.

That experience of being lost, experiencing acute disorientation and an irrational sense of the ineffectiveness of tools that should have showed us our location, gives one – as we will argue further – much to ponder as regards such spaces in the categories of topology. However, the fact that this post-disaster space in Bielcza lends itself to topological interpretation results not only from its topographic indeterminacy. Writing about uncommemorated sites of genocide as non-sites of memory,6 Roma Sendyka points both at their non-binary and multi-faceted ontological status as well as the cognitive and affective dissonance that they cause in those who use them and researchers. A prism, a geological metaphor for a non-site of memory proposed by Sendyka,

is organic and non-organic, is “marred” and “illegible”. It is produced by the activity of external forces, which can be compared to the activity of external discourses: history, politics, economy, memory. [...] the physical presence of the object does not allow itself to be dominated by these discourses, leaving an unsettling feeling that sweeps up the visitor, the feeling that there is still something there that threatens the organized order.7

Owing to the strength of this metaphor, “‘non-sites of memory’ are locations deconstructing all homogenizing imaginaries purporting to understand them. They diffuse and complicate superficially monological discourse – both that discourse surrounding itself and perhaps also the existing discourse on genocide sites in general”.8 Sendyka argues that at non-sites of memory, the past does not cease to infect the present.

We wish to examine this multi-faceted indeterminacy of similar locations with a focus on the very experience of spatial inadequacy that they generate and on the spatial practices of which they become the subject and a correlate. Such non-sites of memory, uncommemorated places of mass violence, are related in the Polish context with the extermination of Jews and Roma as well as the ethnic conflicts that escalated both during World War II and right after it. Our adopted conceptual framework, i.e. topological thinking originating in early modern mathematics, allows us to conceptualise post-disaster spaces as spatial-temporal nexuses that lend themselves to interpretation via the categories of relationality, continuity of transformation, and the large scale of historical orders of which they become a focus. Topological reflection on these locations not only allows for their creative re-interpretation and revitalisation of the discussion on the spatial characteristics of the Holocaust, but also offers up the possibility to investigate the complexity of the everyday experience of those who use the post-genocidal space of the “bloodlands”9 of Central and Eastern Europe as well as to problematise our research position as participants in this spatial-political-affective configuration.

The character of post-disaster spaces can only be captured – as we seek to show – by circling around and around: by abandoning classic tools of thinking about spaces, by studying them more in the categories of the intensive than the extensive,10 while being sensitive to various “interruptions of topology”.11 Paradoxically, we find representations, correlates and, at the same time, indexes of these topological sites in objects that at first glance appear to have strictly topographic origins: maps. However, these documents are markedly different from the cadastral map of the borough of Borzęcin, offered to Roz Mortimer by Adam Bartosz – even if it featured his added post-it note. This is because our research material is topological testimonies of a particular kind: maps by incidental witnesses to the Holocaust.

Across: cultural topology and the temporalisation of space

Topography and topology – concepts we use to capture (dis)orientation at the sites of the dispersed Holocaust – share a similarity in terms of sound, dating back to their etymological core (the Greek notion of topoi, a place, position or location), and the object of research: various surfaces, fields and points in space. They differ, however, in terms of the discursive traditions in which their modern definitions, as well as the analytical procedures that determine their understanding, took shape. Close kin of cartography and Euclidean geometry, topography is an auxiliary science of geography. Its objective is to describe various landforms, to generate various linguistic and visual representations of the earth’s surface on the basis of size and distance as well as detailed indexing of the natural and cultural features of places. Jonathan Murdoch remarks that the domain of topography is defined by orderly structures – contained and finite spaces that lend themselves to compression on a map’s surface.12 In turn, topology, one of the youngest and most abstract branches of mathematics, closely related to the domain of non-Euclidean geometry, analyses objects’ properties that do not change under the influence of constant and radical deformation of their shape and surface (bending, crumpling, twisting, but not tearing, for example). The geometric concepts of size and distance prove insufficient in determining these properties, known as topological invariants (such as openness, compactness, centredness). What does allow for defining and specifying topological objects are the relations that they maintain with each other and their environment. Topology considers two objects as identical (homeomorphic) when, despite their different shapes, they can be deformed to resemble one another by means of continuous transformations. Mathematical topology – which offers a language, tools and the intellectual sensitivity needed to describe the continuum of transformation, that is to say objects and phenomena which retain a core identity despite dynamic transformations, as well as the network of relations that determine the conditions when these transformations are possible – was quickly adapted to the needs of the humanities, where it found a particularly fertile ground in the areas of humanistic geography, sociology and cultural studies.

According to Lauren Martin and Anna Secor, topology in its humanized dimension allows one “to conceptualize the dialectic between continual change and enduring relations”;13 it indicates unobvious orders and connections in seemingly chaotic and amorphous clusters of phenomena, which very often cannot be depicted in closed sets or two-dimensional models of representation. In the context of the contemporary humanities, it connotes a post-structuralist understanding of space while counterpointing topography, which is sometimes identified in this juxtaposition with modern spatial practices and research methodologies associated with structuralism.14 Phenomena such as the development of new media, virtual forms of political engagement, increased mobility of people and objects, and the greater role of robotics in the organization of social structures, are all responsible for the fact that the dynamics of human experience and manners of perception are currently becoming overscaled, as are new forms of relations between humans and the environment, the subjectification of non-human actors and the recognition of the role of affects in shaping social reality. Traditional spatial concepts and metaphors, such as territory, place, border, distance or roots must thus yield to metaphors of networks, flows, deformations, curves, folds and clouds. Such conceptual shifts mark the move from topography to topology.15

In turn, the main source for the expansion of “topological sensitivity”16 is postmodern philosophy, especially the writings of Félix Guattari and Gilles Deleuze, which are devoted to the issues of multiplicity and the mechanisms of deterritorialization.17 However, while the authors of A Thousand Plateaus find the concept of topological space useful in formulating the most general (abstract and enigmatic) definition of reality, contemporary cultural geographers usually adopt topology as a conceptual framework18 that conveys a certain relatively widely-accepted mode for perceiving space, one which is nevertheless not always easy to name. Rob Shields, who came up with the concept of cultural topology, remarks that it may facilitate studying multi-dimensional everyday spatial experiences that determine the “plushness of the real”.19 This is because it serves to explore specific experiences of time and space – temporal dimensions of space and spatial dimensions of time. Cultural topography therefore offers a perspective across the categories of time and space, across the adopted categories and paths of analysis – a perspective that allows for a thorough reformulation of the traditional metaphors of depth and surface, and which allows us to understand space in temporal and networked categories, considering its individual elements in a relational manner as surroundings or vicinities. In practice, this means pondering the frequent, albeit initially incomprehensible, illogical or preposterous moments of our everyday reality: déjà vu, becoming disoriented in a familiar place, the impression that things are mixed up or incongruent, and feelings of confusion or bewilderment caused by an excess of stimuli. The domain of cultural topology is therefore the simultaneity and complexity of various scales of experience and perception, social norms and practices, which often make themselves felt as the “strangeness of everyday life”.20

Cartographies and topologies of the Holocaust

Is there an object more topographic than a map? In order to fully understand the meaning of maps that were hand-drawn by incidental witnesses to the Holocaust to serve as topological testimonies, it is worth examining the ties between cartography and Holocaust studies, as well as examining topological consideration of the geography of genocide.

Marked with arrows, the map of Europe that commences Martin Gilbert’s Atlas of the Holocaust (1982) (fig. 2) sees its centre significantly shifted to the east in comparison to the majority of early modern visions of Europe: all tracks on it lead to Auschwitz, a name printed in a larger font than Berlin, Vienna or Paris.21 The map serves as a symbolic introduction to the next three hundred fifteen maps that show the enormity of the tragedy that struck the Jewish community in Europe, divided into cartographic portraits of various scales: countries, regions, cities, towns and villages, camps and ghettos, individual communities and families. The first illustration, used as a visual abridgement of the narrative account that follows, implements in a perverse way the idea of the atlas as a cartographic genre that allowed users to make various journeys in the comfort of their study or library.22 Moving one’s finger along the railway tracks that cover the whole of Europe, one can only reach the black crater marked with a swastika. In the case of this map, the workings of memory and imagination take place in the iterative perfective mode: the need to repeat the gesture, moving from station to station, which calls for a possibility of a future, does not give way despite the impossibility of changing the course of events.

Fig. 2. Map from Atlas of the Holocaust by Martin Gilbert. Martin Gilbert, The Dent Atlas of the Holocaust: The Complete History, (London: Taylor & Francis e-Library, 2005), p. II;

Gilbert’s illustration offers a good summary of two fundamental problems that we wish to address in the context of the cartography of the Holocaust. Firstly, it presents an approach typical of the classic cartographic paradigm which implies the possibility of a comprehensive and objective representation of a territory by means of a map. As a modern scholarly discipline, cartography adheres to the utopia of an infinite and totalizing, incorporeal and distanced vision. “God-tricks” – as Donna Haraway writes – which build the illusion of an impersonal gaze, also successfully served the kindred orders of modernity: militarism, capitalism, colonialism and male domination,23 so close to the Nazis’ spatial policies. Secondly, Auschwitz is the only death camp on the map. Extending eastwards of that point is a virtually white expanse, something which is of crucial importance in this case. “Auschwitz as a symbol of the Holocaust excludes those who were at the centre of the historical event,”24 writes Timothy Snyder, arguing that - as Holocaust studies and general imagination concentrate on the fate of Western European Jews - they overlook the fate of the majority of the six million, who were Ostjuden, inhabitants of Eastern Europe, mainly perishing at Treblinka, Chełmno, Bełżec, Sobibor and in the forests and fields of eastern Poland, Ukraine and Belarus.

These two premises - a map as a tool of instrumental reason25 and bloodlands as an unmappable terra incognita – determine the frameworks of traditional discourse on the spatiality of the Holocaust, and their critical deconstruction is a necessary condition for the introduction of topological categories to them.

Geographers only began to take a genuine interest in the topography of the Holocaust in recent years. Pioneering work in the field was carried out by Andrew Charlesworth,26 Tim Cole,27 as well as Barbara Engelking and Jacek Leociak.28 Also of note are the topographic initiatives of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington DC: the Historical Atlas of the Holocaust (1996) and the Encyclopedia of Camps and Ghettos29 in three volumes (2009–2012). The latter publication served as a database for the work of an interdisciplinary collective of scientists whose several-years-long project investigated the spatial dimensions of the Holocaust with the use of a geographic information system, modern visualisation techniques and methods of spatial history and cultural geography. As the scholars wrote in Geographies of the Holocaust, which summarized the project, “We see the Holocaust as a profoundly geographical phenomenon”,30 and “The Holocaust was implemented through space and not merely in space”.31 The Third Reich was primarily a territorial undertaking, and planning space for the future of the German nation formed an important part of the project: from the concept of Lebensraum, to meticulous plans for new German cities, to the separation and liquidation of segments of society that were undesired by the Nazi state by means of ghettos and camps.

Although individual case studies in the Geographies of the Holocaust project relied on survivors’ testimonies, the scholars’ use of such a large scale brings to mind the instrumentalizing and distanced perspective of the perpetrators as well as the involuntary reduction of victims’ individual experiences to countable and categorizable points on a map.32 This compelled some of the project participants to review their methods of visualization and to abandon the geographic information system in favor of more individualized and creative practices, shifting the focus from spaces designed by the perpetrators to places that formed the experience of the survivors.33 For example, Anne Kelly Knowles, Levi Westerveld and Laura Strom analyze video testimonies from the archive of the USC Shoah Foundation using various methods for mapping and a qualitative geographic information system. These are meant to allow for capturing the “spatial practice” of the victims and present places that escape traditional coordinates as well as the additional features of the testimonies themselves: the intensity of experiences, the distribution of time devoted to recounting specific events, a witness’s tone of voice and gestures. These experimental cartographies were devised by their creators in close relation to topological thinking about space, as they offer the possibility to capture characteristics of being in space that do not depend on the measurement of distance, but address various social relations: distance and proximity, intimacy and alienation.34

If scholars in the field of the geography of the Holocaust derive inspiration from the undoubtedly topological shift in humanistic geography, a separate avenue for examining the topology of the Holocaust originates from the philosophical tradition. Analyzing the spatial dimensions of the Third Reich’s politics forms the core of Giorgio Agamben’s thought process, and his concept of the camp as the realm of the “state of exception” is further developed by Paolo Giaccaria and Claudio Minca, demonstrating that Nazi biopolitics was inseparable from geopolitics.35 As the scholars show, Auschwitz is not merely a topographic space – a measurable and mappable product of the “calculative rationalities” of Hitler’s state, planned and constructed so as to reach the goals of those in power. It is also a topological space because, in parallel, it embodies everything that remains outside the realm of rational spatiality. The camp as a threshold, soglia, is a point where topographic and topological qualities co-exist in a state of constant tension, in “inclusive exclusion”,36 and the separation between such categories as rule and exception – as well as open / closed, internal / external, friend / enemy, human / animal, and border / centre – cannot be maintained.

The scholars return to these considerations in another text, which addresses a different pair of Agamben’s concepts: città (the city) and selva (the jungle)37. The latter is not only a forest, but also the untamed state of nature and “animality” – everything that constructing the Nazi spatial order was opposed to. The East is that very jungle – a “garbage can” where human remnants were to be “resettled”, “transported”, “removed” (Umsiedlung, Aussiedlung, Entfernung) as representatives of an unwanted race. Finally, the jungle was the “real and imagined forests of Central and Eastern Europe”, the territory of the first stage of systematic extermination. It was produced in the heart of the Nazis’ città – German civilisation – as a necessary foundation for its functioning, and at the same time an element that needed to be eradicated. Selva represents the topological – something that is alien to topographic rationalities, although it is interdependent on them.

Let us try to differentiate and condense this vision a little: the occupied territories of Central and Eastern Europe are more a threshold, an undifferentiated space in which the orders of città and selva exist within the dynamics of constant tension and exchange. On one hand, this territory becomes subject to phantasmal operations of organization and conquest (Lebensraum, Generalplan Ost), and on the other hand it is an unmarked space of mixed categories: blurred boundaries of ghettos, which abolish the qualities of the inside and the outside, openness and closure; the fluid distribution of roles that often occur simultaneously: neighbors/enemies/helpers, victims/perpetrators/onlookers; the changeable attribution of characteristics of space (the forest is a hideout and an asylum, but also a trap and a snare); a field for guerrilla struggle and an area for manhunts; and finally, a space of help and betrayal. This permanent and long-lasting state of confusion of basic categories that serve to orientate one in physical and social space determined the character of the spatial practices in those territories after the war.

Although the metaphor of the jungle, developed by Giaccaria and Minca, relates to the historical reconstruction of the Third Reich’s bio- and geopolitics, it also resonates with attempts to define the current post-genocidal space “east of Auschwitz”, since it captures its essential topographic indeterminacy. In turn, this indeterminacy results from the geopolitical isolation of the sites of the dispersed Holocaust (as territories behind the Iron Curtain), their multiplicity and visual indistinguishability. The characteristics of selva resonate in the metaphors used to describe these territories: they are bloodlands, a compound in which “blood” becomes attached to “land” (as in bloodshed, bloodbath, bloodstain and bloodguilt), permanently transforming their ontological status. These are “contaminated landscapes”38: their contamination is irreversible and contagious, it is a metaphor that cannot be purged.

One big battlefield

Under the debris of ruined cities and housing estates lay the corpses of the unburied, the wind carried the ashes of the murdered throughout the whole of Poland, new sites of crime were also constantly discovered. This seemed endless [...] The earth was returning the ashes.39

This was how Lesław Bartelski described the topographic disorder of the Polish bloodlands immediately after the war. Mapping and cataloguing this inexhaustible subject became the goal of a number of post-war initiatives carried out by the state within its new borders. July 2, 1947, witnessed the establishment of the Council for the Protection of Monuments of Struggle and Martyrdom, a body that implemented a new spatial-historical politics in a changed topography and whose tasks included “determining the location of graves of victims of Nazi crimes” and “artistic commemoration of sites and facts related to martyrology”.40 During the first decade after the war, the council focussed on the largest sites of atrocities and cemeteries.41 A breakthrough came at the beginning of the 1960s, when local citizens’ committees were established and, above all, the first Victory Alert of the Spring Scouting Reconnaissance (1965) was proclaimed to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the end of World War II – an action organised by the Headquarters of the Polish Scout and Guide Association (ZHP), which mobilised young scouts across almost the entire country to identify “unknown or forgotten sites of struggle or martyrdom”.42 Fourteen thousand graves and execution sites had been identified by the time the drive began. Two million scouts participated in the Alert and they located and catalogued a further six thousand sites. Documents sent by the youngsters to their headquarters were also habitually called “alerts” – they comprised a brief survey concerning the history of a place, sources of information about it, who looked after it, and desired activities related to the site, and a sketched map of the area with the grave site marked.43

Figs. 3 and 4. Alert from Szubin. Source: Institute of National Remembrance, sign. GK 195/II/17

The alert included here, from Szubin, comprises three surveys: one concerns a road along the River Gąsawka, whose construction cost the lives of around one hundred fifty Jews from Szubin, while the two other surveys relate to the backyard of the then building of the Presidium of the Municipal National Council, where several villagers were executed in 1939. The schematic nature and affective flatness of these documents appears worthy of consideration in and of itself. The makeshift sketch (fig. 3) representing the river and the road that runs along it conveys, in a cartographic abridgement, the vast expanse of long-lasting and permanent violence – the back-breaking labor involved in building the road and reinforcing the river bank, which led to the workers’ deaths. The road is a multi-point, uncommemorated site of genocide, and the diagram that represents it confirms this state through the lack of any signs referring to the past. The result of removing wartime events from the map is additionally strengthened by a list of the most significant buildings erected in the area during the two decades after the war. The House of the Scouts, a school, the headquarters of the Polish United Workers’ Party, housing estates, and even modern street lights installed in the vicinity create a powerful framework of presentness. The drawing from Szubin is its referent; its connection with history can be determined in a multi-stage movement of references: a line drawn on the map along the river is the “described road” from the survey (fig. 4); marked along it are also small symbols of trees as nowadays the place features “boulevards lined with chestnut trees – silent witnesses of the tragedy the Jews befell”.44 The alert from Szubin may be regarded as an extraordinary indexical and structurally topological record in which we observe how the past yields to the present. The document both recreates and creates a situation whereby the local Holocaust event, however alive in the memory of the neighbors (all information was acquired from villagers), becomes delegated beyond the horizon of everyday experience through this administrative act of being included in a supra-local order. As the sketched map of the area indicates, the past does not exist in space (the sketch features only the chestnut trees – witnesses of torment), while all connections and relations with Szubin’s Jews are removed from the picture, e.g. where they lived, where they came from to work, what routes they traveled, or where exactly individual neighbors perished.

The alert from 1965 was not the only initiative that mapped “one big battlefield”,45 as the Polish territories were called in Przewodnik po upamiętnionych miejscach walk i męczeństwa (Guide to Commemorated Sites of Struggle and Martyrdom). The subsequent scouting alerts led to the establishment of hundreds of local “memorial chambers” (1970), and the sites of execution were given their own patrons, honoured with Guardian Medals of the Places of National Remembrance.46 Tourist initiatives were also organised, such as “The Trail of Glory of Polish Arms” and regular walks along “Trails of the Struggle with Fascism”.47 Moreover, this topographic intensification, resulting from both celebrating one thousand years of the Polish state and the anniversary of the end of World War II, occurred during a special period. It culminated in the years 1968–1969 with an anti-Semitic smear campaign and the emigration of thousands of Polish citizens who had survived the Holocaust, and was characterized by a tendency to play down the Jewish war experience.48 The paradoxical double status of the alert from Szubin, which renders Jewish death visible yet simultaneously excludes it from this state, therefore conveys the official “historical reason” at the vernacular level, combining the local, particular experience of space with a nation-wide politics of remembrance operating on a greater scale.

Another characteristic feature of these acts – markedly different from Western cartographic-historical initiatives – is the treatment of the “battlefield” not as a post-genocidal void, but as an area that is constantly inhabited and which should be experienced in the most corporeal of ways. “We wish to take your eyes off the marvellous landscapes for a moment and inspire reflection. Our goal is to slow down your pulse after it was quickened by climbing and marching,”49 – write the authors of the otherwise heavily propagandistic “Trails of the Struggle with Fascism” guide.

Another variation on the indexical impulse of mapping can be found in the map Hitler’s Crimes in Poland 1939–1945 (fig. 5), published in 1968 on the initiative of the Council for the Protection of Monuments. Its background is the subtle pattern of a concentration camp’s striped uniform – the territory of the new Poland thus closely relates to what happened during the war. The map is characterized by a topological temporal-spatial incongruence: it is framed by the modern-day borders of the Polish state, but the dates refer to a completely different topographic entity: the Polish territories in 1939. This temporal layer is introduced by the borders of the General Governorate, marked with a dashed line. Separate symbols are used to mark death and concentration camps as well as linked sites - penal labor camps, labor camps for Jews, prisoner-of-war camps, pacified villages and execution sites (with over fifty murdered persons). The symbols vary in size depending on the number of victims. Although it presents a mere fraction of identified points, the lucidly designed map reveals the awareness of the total dispersal of violence in the area and the resulting impulse to identify and catalogue. Unlike the map in Gilbert’s atlas, here east of Auschwitz the map grows darker due to the marked sites of executions, pacifications and camps.

Fig. 5. Map of Hitler’s Crimes in Poland 1939–1945, from 1968. Source:

Finally, this same overwhelming density is also to be found in the most comprehensive publication to map the Holocaust, albeit one devoid of any cartographic character: Rejestr miejsc i faktów zbrodni popełnionych przez okupanta hitlerowskiego na ziemiach polskich w latach 1939–1945 (Register of Places and Facts of Crimes Committed by the Nazi Occupiers in Poland in 1939–1945). The register comprises fifty volumes published from 1980 to 1994 and draws on the results of numerous surveys and investigations carried out by the Main Commission for the Investigation of Nazi Crimes in Poland and scouting alerts. The inventory of one hundred thousand execution sites, not including camps, ghettos and prisons, recorded voivodeship after voivodeship, town after town, and is virtually illegible, yet in its illegibility it is paradigmatic: many of the enumerated sites remain uncommemorated, and without unambiguous location data they are nothing but lifeless records in an endless archive.

Some of the data has been verified, made more specific, and oftentimes extended as a result of two initiatives undertaken in recent years in order to achieve a genuine mapping of the dispersed Holocaust. The first is a project conducted by an organization called Yahad – In Unum, whose goal is to identify the greatest possible number of sites connected to “the Holocaust by bullets”50 in Central, Eastern and Southern Europe, by determining their geographic coordinates and recording interviews with witnesses to the crimes. The research results are gathered in the form of a map – a Google Maps overlay. Specific locations of execution sites are assigned to currently existing towns and the points are divided into red ones – accompanied by a description available online (a description of the crime, quotations from archival documents, a extract of testimony), and blue ones, which are still awaiting further study. The second project has a smaller geographic reach, limited to modern-day Poland - the Archive of Jewish War Graves created by the “Zapomniane” Foundation and the Rabbinical Commission for Jewish Cemeteries in Poland. Their digital map features marked execution sites investigated by the Commission. The points have various statuses: commemorated (frequently with temporary wooden matzevahs), awaiting commemoration, and surveyed. Each site has its own entry concerning the history of the place, type of commemoration and available sources.

Remembered but physiographically changed places

The excerpts presented here from the history of the connections between maps and Holocaust studies can be seen through the prism of post-war reinterpretations of cartography as a domain of knowledge that claims to offer an objective, true and faithful representation of reality as well as of power: colonial, class-related, national, military and gender-related power.51 Since the 1980s, critical cartography has shown that a map is a tool of privileged and political regimes of knowledge, treating some territories as empty spaces and literally pushing some people off its surface.52 The prevailing absence of Central and Eastern Europe from Holocaust maps can be understood as a manifestation of such tendencies.53 In turn, post-representational cartography concentrates on the very ontological status of maps: it abandons the “confessional” model, according to which a map reveals the truth of a territory, and shows how it creates it in specific historical circumstances.54 A map is therefore a historical product that operates within a certain “horizon of possibility”. Polish cartographic narratives, which show the state in its new borders from the perspective of the war experience, offer an example of such cartographic “inscription”55, while contemporary initiatives that map the dispersed Holocaust serve as countermappings of the modes of cartographic knowledge that dominate in Holocaust studies. Finally, this new avenue of research also involves the proposal to treat maps as processes, cultural practices embedded in action and affective structures, mappings continually “coming into being”.56 Such interpretations allow for a return to our question regarding the possibility of thinking about maps at once in both topographic and topological categories. The simultaneous embrace (during the reading of such documents) of the perspective of topography, understood as a domain of spatial extension, and topology, a domain of studies on spatial intension, offers the possibility of a comprehensive understanding of the mechanisms of producing space and the changing dynamics of memory tensions that organize the process in question.57

In the context of the cartography of the Holocaust, maps used by witnesses themselves, cartographic testimonies, may be interpreted as such processual, performative and topological mappings. Projects in the field of Holocaust geography have been based on the separation between the cartographer and the witness; they have translated spoken and written testimonies into a geographic form. A map in the hands of a witness is an object that has seldom been analyzed to date, although it is not that exceptional: if you type “maps” into the search engine of the USC Shoah Foundation’s archives it brings up five hundred forty testimonies.58 Witnesses readily share their own drawings with interviewers, but they also offer up physiographic maps with marked forests where they stayed while in hiding, or plans of camps – as seen in the spectacular account of Richard Glazar, who appears against the backdrop of a map of Treblinka while marking subsequent locations from his testimony with a pointer.59 Testimonies gathered in the Shoah Foundation’s archives were largely recorded away from the sites where the Holocaust happened. In turn, we take an interest in maps that were drawn up “at the site”, indexically connected with the post-genocidal space: created not by survivors, but by eyewitnesses to the events, people who lived in the vicinity of the sites of atrocities during the post-war decades.

Our first example is the cartographic work of Stanisław Zybała (1930–2014), a librarian from Radecznica in the Lublin region and an eyewitness to several acts of the dispersed Holocaust in his village. As an amateur historian, Zybała devoted the majority of his work to the Holocaust and his activity as a guardian of memory resulted in the site of the death of ten Jewish residents of the village being commemorated.60 In 2010, he sent a letter to the Jewish Community in Lublin enclosing a map of “burials of adherents of Judaism without Kaddish”, which was forwarded later to the Rabbinical Commission, which took the next steps.

Hand-drawn “from memory”, the drawing shows several streets and dirt roads in Radecznica with small menorah symbols marked in their vicinity. The author also added his own peculiar signature: a Star of David composed of overlapping non-transparent equilateral triangles (the bottom section of the star lacks the intersection of lines characteristic of the hexagram) with a menorah inscribed therein. The meaning of this symbol is explained in the legend at the bottom of the document – menorahs with their bases coloured pink refer to uncommemorated execution sites in the area of Radecznica.

Fig. 6. Map from the manuscript Żyli wśród nas (They lived among us) by Stanisław Zybała

This map is not the only one Zybała created – it is basically yet another copy of a diagram which he sketched multiple times. This may also explain the subtle yet confident strokes used to preserve the layout of local streets. The most interesting among more than a dozen preserved documents are some maps that are attached to two manuscripts: Żyli wśród nas (They lived among us, 2001), an autobiographical sketch devoted to the Jewish inhabitants of Radecznica, and Tak cię widzę, Radecznico (This is how I see you, Radecznica, 1998), a guide to the village Zybała penned with his wife Marianna and published later in print, but without the cartographic materials (2004).

Zybała’s memories, contained in Żyli wśród nas, feature a map (fig. 6) composed of a network of Radecznica’s roads sketched in blue, with red menorah symbols, which – according to the legend – indicate “Remembered but physiographically changed places”: six locations of the dispersed Holocaust. In the upper right corner sits a larger menorah with a question mark – the lack of any corresponding symbol on the map renders it impossible to state whether it belongs to the topographic order or appears as an overarching symbol that summarises the locations of “graves without Kaddish and missing without a trace”. Zybała’s drawing, with the inscription “This is what I remember,” becomes an intimate gesture of an eyewitness whose text surrounding the sketch closely analyzes his experiences: his upbringing in an anti-Semitic culture, the shock of the Holocaust, the path to understanding one’s condition as an observer, and efforts made to retrace the fate of Radecznica’s Jews. Although the topography of Radecznica, shown in blue, recreates the actual layout of roads and forest paths, it loses it referential anchoring; it resembles more a delicate venation of the area’s spatial tissue, transformed into a metaphor for memory of an extremely corporeal character. The phrase from the map legend: “Remembered but physiographically changed places” rules out any certainty of finding the actual locations in the topography of the village, turning the memory of the author/witness into the only guarantee of their existence.

Fig. 7. Map from the manuscript Tak cię widzę, Radecznico (This is how I see you, Radecznica) by Stanisław Zybała

In turn, Zybała’s manuscript Tak cię widzę, Radecznico features three images. In the first (fig. 7), the author marks execution sites as well as additional landmarks: shrines and crosses, bridges, and a bathing spot as well as “haunted places”; moreover, unlike in the previous drawing, passable roads are shown differently from paths in fields. These tiny shifts appear to result from a change in the intended addressee for the image, this time it is someone on foot, who should know what to expect during a walk. In turn, at the end of the booklet we find a cadastral map of the village with a “pedestrian route” marked in green (fig. 8) and a hand-copied plan of the village buildings with the added note “25 July 1944” (the date of a fire that consumed part of the town).61 In both these annexes, Zybała marked religious landmarks and sites of Jewish burials.

All of the maps gathered in Tak cię widzę, Radecznico complement the written text, which is an invitation to take “a walk along the trail of crosses and sites unmarked with song and prayers”.62 Given the fact that the printed version does not ultimately include any of the maps, it is the guide’s narrative that serves as a tool that actualizes the village’s “cemetery” topography. The route guides readers through a variety of locations: from harrowing sites, to viewing points, to the most important buildings in the village. However, its most significant element – albeit introduced somewhat incidentally – are points to which no physiographically special traits can easily be ascribed: sites that saw the extermination of the Jewish residents of Radecznica.

Fig. 8 Map from the manuscript Tak cię widzę, Radecznico (This is how I see you, Radecznica) by Stanisława Zybała

The walking trail features five such locations with vernacular names: Kurkowe Dołki, Bojtek sacred grove, Drugie Doły, near the Brickyard, as well as a site in the centre of the village which is nameless but commemorated by Radecznica’s only survivor, Rubin Weistuch. The authors of the guide seek to facilitate readers’ orientation by means of easily identifiable landmarks and elements of the landscape, but when the trail approaches the execution sites of Jews, they adopt a peculiar authorial strategy. “Why penetrate this tangle of ravines?” – they ask rhetorically – “The second ravine from the top on the left-hand side hides a non-Kaddish grave of several buried jews [spelled unusually with a miniscule letter – authors’ note], completely unmarked.”63 They continue, “Nobody said Kaddish for them, nobody marked their grave, placed a stone, lit a candle”.64 They also suggest specific conduct in these places: “When leaving, we say Yizkor for the deceased” or “One may also [...] choose a keepsake such as a root”.65

The guide (as a correlate and something of a catalyst for Zybała’s maps) therefore proposes a scenario for a walk that takes on the role of commemoration, mourning, and above all “testimony”66 – the guide’s authors and all those who follow their instructions will bear witness to what happened in Radecznica during the war. Furthermore, Stanisław and Marianna Zybała include in the text the wording of Jewish prayers, which the intended reader – the walker – may recite for the victims. Although such tourist brochures usually function as one-off reads, Tak cię widzę, Radecznico is meant to serve as a handy aid in iterative walks around the village, to constitute a repeatable practice of performing the memory maps drawn up by Zybała. In reference to the categories formulated by Giuliana Bruno, a voyeur looking at the maps is supposed to transform into a voyageuse who travels around the village’s “tender geography”.67 This tenderness results from the guide’s author’s extreme biographical closeness to the designing of the space. The affective burden of the site at Drugie Doły (Zybała witnessed the crime and knew the victims) turns the location into the final destination of the walk, changing its topographic location into a topological nexus of affect and memory. It is no mere coincidence that a tree at Drugie Doły – from which we should take an indexical keepsake in the form of a fragment of the biotope (according to the author, a piece of one of the many trees’ roots) – bears a symbol incised by Zybała in the bark, the same as that on the map sent to the Jewish Community.68

“The lines on [a] sketch map are formed through the gestural re-enactment of journeys actually made, to and from places that are already known for their histories of previous comings and goings”69 writes Tim Ingold about mapping. In this sense, mapping is a practice convergent with “wayfinding” and opposed to the “use” of maps and navigation. And it is precisely wayfinding, marking out a path, that matters here, even though the execution sites themselves, which we are supposed to visit, are impossible to find: the directions offered by Stanisław and Marianna Zybała do not tell us where exactly we should look, and the points of the dispersed Holocaust will forever remain “purely in the vicinity […] unsustained by abstraction”70 – something that depends on individual hints, meagre instructions. Zybała’s maps are not so much a guarantee of the “ontological security”71 of the representation of reality, but more a reflection of embodied knowledge about a given place and its history. These are not “immutable mobiles”, as Bruno Latour dubbed maps,72 but the opposite – changeable and adaptable, performed anew and mobile tools of remembering and bearing testimony.

The maps and the walk accumulate various orders and scales of historical experiences: they refer not only to the Holocaust, but also to the distant history of the village, World War I, and post-war changes in the topography. The walk does not connect points, nodes of a network of connectors, but leads us along paths that in some places become particularly tangled, forming complex nexuses in a meshwork of connections and affective exchanges.73 It is the sites, visited one after another, that determine its course. However, neither the maps nor Tak cię widzę offer any information about the distance between Drugie Doły and Kurkowe Dołki or how long it takes to get to the Brickyard. Finally, the walk (Polish “spacer”) designed by Stanisław and Marianna Zybała is not limited to mere walking – postulated as a research practice and a kind of knowledge by Tim Ingold and Jo Lee Vergunst.74 It is also an activity that originates from German spazieren – something that combines walking (as a form of exploring the world) with a stroll (as an expression of sightseeing zeal) and also a routine physical activity, an ordinary duty.

Although Zybała’s sketches look like regular maps, and are even imposed on printed maps, they manifest a particular performative character. They constitute peculiar acts of countermapping: they superimpose scripts on the space of Radecznica that are not universally remembered, while engaging subsequent readers in sustaining them at the same time.

To see time in space

In the case of interviews with eyewitnesses to the Holocaust recorded by the organisation Yahad – In Unum, the maps they draw are used as a forensic tool that facilitates determining the location and finding the site of a crime, and also as a special kind of memory stimulation. An interview is usually recorded at an eyewitness’s home, and later – if the interviewee’s health allows – the team travels to the site for a field visit. Maps appear in these testimonies in different circumstances – sometimes upon the initiative of an eyewitness who seeks to explain something to the visitors, on other occasions upon the request of the team if the spatial layout of the situation is unclear, the witness’s position remains difficult to understand, or when the interviewee is unable to recall the details of the crime scene. This was the case with a story from Dvariukai75 in Lithuania: it was only when the witness drew the site of the crime that the YiU team could understand the why she had not been able to see the execution despite its proximity, though she had heard it very well: she was separated from it by a forest. Witnesses draw maps at home and these are later used as an aid at the site or in the field. In the latter case, a witness’s story is usually extended via the hand of a team member, who transfers the acquired information onto paper or an electronic screen. This happened, for example, in Bubiai:76 a map drawn on a tablet computer shows a bird’s eye view of the site of the crime in a forest – the witness’s presence is marked in the corner of this scene and her testimony is transposed being a story and wayfinding to the mode of seeing and cartography. The memory of witnesses closely reflects the landscape – for instance, observation of an execution site was more difficult in mountainous areas than in flat lowlands. It also depended on individual circumstances. Some executions were much more diligently guarded from the gaze of bystanders than others, and when members of a given community participated in executions (for example as executors in Lithuania), “the whole village” usually watched. “Someone always saw something” is the fundamental axiom in Holocaust studies in the East.

Finally, although testimonies seemingly refer to specific acts of seeing, individual points in history, their temporality is much more complicated. They accumulate the experiences of living in a multi-ethnic community prior to the war: acquaintances, knowledge about Jewish homes, shops, schools and temples, and often also memories of persistent violence against Jews - expropriation, persecution, ghettoization. Even if a testimony concerns a single event, one should remember that the knowledge of it results from affective elaboration and has been subject to lengthy negotiations. Inhabitants visited sites of execution multiple times (hence the basic topos of testimonies of bystanders/witnesses concerning the ground soil moving for several days after the crime) and still talked about them long after the war. A map and the act of drawing one also refer to temporal complexities because they represent space characterized by multiple attribution.

Fig. 9. Map from Bełżyce. Courtesy of Michał Chojak

This is a diagram from Bełżyce in the Lublin Voivodeship (fig. 9), drawn up by a member of the YiU team according to instructions from a witness, and it shows the execution of seven hundred Jewish citizens.77 The document introduces three parallel orders: the topography of the ghetto, the current layout of the buildings, and various stages of the execution. The schematically depicted buildings bear double references: the synagogue, where Jews undressed, is a cultural centre; the bathhouse is a bank; and the town’s entire square is situated in the ghetto. Furthermore, a sequence of actions are connected with specific places in space: undressing, awaiting execution, death. The witness is absent from the map, but his house is situated in the corner. The compressed temporalities of spatial representation convey in this case the topological structure of the very act of giving testimony.

The disturbance that comes with the arrival of a foreign organization, whose members ask questions about the details of events from many decades before, leads to changes in the established structures. A witness becomes a guide to a space that is familiar and ordinary to him or her. Some recordings show such slow-paced walks to the site of the crime, with the body of an elderly person setting the rhythm of the whole expedition. Unlike in the tradition of early modern Europe, the map serves here not as a tool of colonization from the outside, but of initiation from the inside.

Sketches by witnesses, often illegible and provisional, are usually redrawn by YiU team members and attached to the dossier about a given location. In the documentation of an execution in Mszana Dolna, Lesser Poland, both versions of the drawing have been preserved.

Figs. 10 and 11. Drawings by a witness from Mszana Dolna. Courtesy of Renata Masna

The circumstances of how a witness (b. 1931) from Mszana Dolna drew the sketches are recorded on video. While reconstructing in detail the execution of eight hundred eighty Jewish inhabitants of the Mszana ghetto in August 1942,78 the man realizes that the locations mentioned in his account remain unclear to the interviewers, compelling additional questions which, instead of moving the conversation forward, actually strengthen the impression of – as it happens – circling around and around. The witness therefore suggests to the interviewer that he should make a reference drawing that will facilitate understanding his story. As the account develops, he sketches two complementary diagrams (figs. 10 and 11). Careless pen strokes preserved on the sheet – markedly different from Zybała’s sketches – form configurations of shaky lines: weaving strokes, clumsy arches, circles, semicircles, squares and rectangles. In the context of the statement from this resident of Mszana Dolna, they play a double auxiliary role. On the one hand, as already mentioned, when the recording is over they will help the YiU team members to reconstruct the route of the execution victims. On the other hand, they structure and discipline the account itself, helping the witness stick to the most important threads, to introduce a certain order to his memories in real time. However, detached from the author’s voice and deprived of any additional visual signature or any other kind of notation, they seem impossible to decipher, they appear primarily as a self-referential testimony of the gesture of indicating. Its character is aptly described by Ingold: “The gesturing hand can as well weave as draw, creating something more like a cat’s cradle than a diagram”.79 If we treat the witness’s diagrams as an attempt to present the space of the execution, they turn out to be completely non-functional. In turn, if we approach them as a documentation of the process of mapping – the practice of gaining orientation in space and, at the same time, the ability to re-create the route in retrospect – they become a perfect confirmation of another argument put forward by the author of The Perception of the Environment: “the products of mapping (graphic inscriptions), as those of knowing (stories), are fundamentally un-maplike”.80 Maps-cum-sketches, as something of a byproduct of the process of mapping, are definitely more akin to stories; they are – as Ingold writes further – “not so much representations of space as condensed histories”.81

Indeed, the only key that allows one to solve the mystery of these lines is the story recorded on video, simultaneous with the act of sketching. The witness’s account reveals that the execution of the inhabitants of Mszana ghetto lasted a whole day. At six in the morning, the witness – then an eleven-year-old boy – was coming back from the bakery and came across some German military police. He marks the place of the encounter in the bottom right corner of the map (fig. 10): it was here that he found out he could go no further, but he saw Jews gathered in the square (semicircle in the centre of the sheet) moving in groups to the place where they were supposed to undress (upper right corner). The street parallel to the longer side of the sheet is identified by the witness as Orkana, called W Olszynach before the war, and inhabited mostly by Jews. The undulating lines leading along Orkana Street to the site where victims undressed represent the movement of subsequent groups of Jewish inhabitants of the town. The witness marked his presence at the site of the event in merely relational terms: as the addressee of the Nazi soldiers’ orders, forbidding him to go via W Olszynach Street.

The only common element between the second diagram (fig. 11) and the first one is the point where the Jewish citizens of Mszana undressed prior to the execution (now in the bottom right corner). However, the location of the witness is now revealed: he finds himself on Kocia Górka hill, which he marks with a semicircle at the bottom of the sheet. He stands there together with his friends. The witness can see the execution site perfectly owing to certain landscape features: Kocia Górka offered a view both of the square on which Jews from Mszana were gathered and of the road to the site of the execution, up to some pits on a neighbouring hill. The drawing features a marked pit, with a plank thrown over its center, and – on the left – a table with alcohol. The distance to the site of the crime is considerable, which is why the man describes the Jewish victims as “a string of beads from a torn necklace”. The details he offers come from his friend who observed the scene with binoculars.

Fig. 12. Drawing by an employee of Yahad – In Unum from Mszana. Courtesy of Renata Masna

Combining the diagrams created by the witness resulted in a map drawn up by a YiU team member – executed with a much firmer hand, complete with graphic notations and captions, a lucid visualization of events (fig. 12). The difference between the confused and enigmatic original and the re-arranged diagram, which foregrounds informative content, is striking. The function of a sketched map – to quote Ingold – is to indicate the direction that will soon be followed by someone else. The moment he or she reaches the destination, the sketch automatically become useless: “The map does not tell you where things are, allowing you to navigate from any spatial location you choose to any other.”82 It is an ephemeral artefact whose functionality and agency is limited to the context of its creation, given once and unrepeatable. This is the case with the drawings discussed here. The sketch map – Ingold continues – “makes no claim to represent a certain territory, or to mark the spatial locations of features included within its frontiers. What count are the lines, not the spaces around them”.83

The witness’s drawings exist as the material traces of a manual gesture: they emerge from the movement of the body and register that movement of the body. On the one hand, they record the physiological rhythm of giving testimony: the movement of the man’s hands, which resonate with the timbre of his voice, is transferred to the visual structure of the map, opening up the symbolic universe of the testimony to its corporeal and affective qualities. On the other hand, diagrams form a certain kind of passage, a representation of the path of observation, something which should also be understood literally as the record of the route taken by the victims of the execution and a witness to it. Their shaky ontology – simultaneous realness and abstraction, location at the intersection of the work of the body and the work of memory, of the conscious and the reflexive – transforms them into a special kind of record of an experience, one which – following Brian Massumi – can be referred to as a biogram: “They are lived diagrams based on already lived experience, revived to orient further experience.”84 The biogram remains “geometrically strange”, but “is not lacking in order”, quite the reverse: “It is over-organized, loaded with an excess of reality. It is deformed by experiential overfill. It is a hypersurface.”85 According to the scholar, such a hypersurface is a topological figure that offers the possibility of “seeing time in space”.86 The maps that were drawn by the witness from Mszana preserve this extraordinary state of affairs.

The drawing by the YiU employee loses the folds and creases in which the extra-linguistic sense of experience gains in importance. Although the target image still retains its makeshift character, it was created using simple cartographic tools (a ruler and protractor) and image-structuring devices (a legend and color). It also features traditional cartographic markings of distance between points, and the original line of movement of the victims and the witness’s hand is anchored in the space (external to them) of a specific territory – this comes to be expressed through toponyms. However, what attracts special attention in the correction of the witness’ diagrams is the subtle objectivization of his story. In the center of all three drawings we see a semicircle – the identity of this line initially compels us to treat it as an orientation point that will allow us to discover the logic of the sketched account. As we have already signaled, however, it denotes different objects: in the first and the third map, it stands for the place where the victims were grouped, in the second map – for the location of the witness/observer. The exclusion of his perspective from the “final” version of the document deprives the visual narrative of one of the dimensions that gives it its depth, demonstrating at the same time the power of the flattening topographic impulse in determining the order of events. Seemingly innocent – drawn with modest tools from a school pencil case – the map made by the YiU employee fulfils the fundamental ambitions of modern cartography in a rudimentary way: it builds an illusion of non-mediation, it generates an impersonal perspective of a view “from everywhere” and creates the impression that the map directly conveys the structure of the described space.

To put it more precisely, the set of maps from Mszana allows the process of generating such an illusion to be captured in statu nascendi. In this case, however, it is not done in full, it becomes frozen somewhere between the various phases of the objectivization of the representation. The map by the YiU employee, which is still a draft transcript of the witness’s sketch, preserves the topological properties of the original. In the case of the testimony from Mszana Dolna, all visual documents therefore show the execution site as a multiplicity of different temporal and spatial orders. The sketches managed to convey the rhythm of an execution that lasted a whole day – the morning, when the witness is stopped by the military police, noon, when he observes groups of victims heading to the execution site, and finally the afternoon, when he observes the execution and the subsequent burial of the bodies. Another factor that imposes itself on the layer of the past is also the time it took to do the interview, when the witness compared the scene of the atrocity to the map of modern-day Mszana. The victims’ movements, marked on the road, equate the temporality of the act of giving testimony with the scene recreated from the past. At the spatial level, the sketches embrace a number of points dispersed throughout the town (subsequent execution stages) and the place from which the witness, still a child, observed the course of events (the street and the hill). All these dimensions combine to form a record of the topology of experience, a diagram of current and past events, one which visualises – to return to the previously quoted Shields – “the contingencies of the embodied flow of experience, and its knotting of the past as experiences and the present as experiencing”.87

Thirteen topological theses on necrocartography

We propose using the word necrocartography for the practice of creating maps of the spaces that witnessed the dispersed Holocaust (or any other mass killing) as well as for the methods which we present in this article (inspired by cultural topology) used when researching these deaths . In establishing this category, we use the prefix necro- as “a prefix for words related to what is dead (especially the dead body and its remains)”, and whose meanings are explored in the Polish humanities by Ewa Domańska.88 However, we abandon the necrological-ecological perspective postulated by Domańska in favor of a broader perspective proposed by Thomas W. Laqueur, for whom necro- connotes a “dense description” of various cultural phenomena connected with death and human remains, and which continue to form part of specific ideological and aesthetic categories, as well as the practice of creating a critical history of textual and visual representations of such phenomena – areas that express the cultural work of dead bodies.89 By proposing the term “necrocartography”, we not only wish to call attention to the insufficiency of topographic tools characteristic of traditional cartography for researching the maps of the dispersed Holocaust and thereby open up the discipline to the topological perspective, but we also wish to highlight the key significance of uncommemorated sites of genocide for the spatial experience of the inhabitants of Central and Eastern Europe. Maps by incidental witnesses to the Holocaust allow for the capturing of the multi-temporal and relational existence of such objects and their impact on the users of post-genocidal spaces, including us – entangled researchers.

We wish to conclude our analysis with a list of research theses – more postulates than conclusions.

1. A site of the dispersed Holocaust is an interruption of topology. As a disturbing remnant that deems invalid the binary divisions between the grave and space after the grave, the strange and the familiar, the close and the distant, and the neutral and significant, it also exists as a physical surplus, which multiplies and complicates the processes involved in the social experiencing of space. That is why it produces the impression of confusion and inadequacy, it escapes the conventional and routine scenarios of gaining orientation.

2. An uncommemorated site of genocide is characterized by topographic indeterminacy. It is a pure vicinity, unsupported by any kind of abstraction – it is more material and tactile than symbolic and visual. Marked on the map or included in a register, it will always require directions; described by means of coordinates, it will transgress their strict designations. The only guarantee of locating such a localation, and of its existence, is the gesture “it’s here”. Forensic and archival analysis are auxiliary methods to the act of giving testimony.

3. Post-disaster space remains in a network of feedback relations: it determines the qualities of its surroundings while being at the same time determined by the surroundings. It is situated in a meshwork of public and private affects: not just shame, guilt, and indifference, but also solidarity or empathy. It depends to the same degree on relations with central and local politics of memory as it does on the frequency of flows of individual dispositions of care and giving testimony. However, it may sometimes also have enough agency to launch and modify these politics and dispositions

4. A site of past violence is a topological nexus of various biological, ethical, affective, political, social and ethnic orders. As such, it focusses within itself different temporal and spatial scales: it is a tangle of lines of action marked out in its vicinity in the past and in the present.

5. An uncommemorated site of the dispersed Holocaust is subject to ongoing transformation. It is subject to becoming overgrown, natural land transformations, and soil formation processes. It may shrink or expand due to changes in the land register or transformations in the local ownership structure. Elements that can reveal its whereabouts change, as do the people who can point out its location. Its visibility increases or diminishes depending on historical policies, the actions of grassroots activists and external institutions.

6. A map is testimony and a memory tool. It serves both as evidence in historical cases and as an intimate record of a witness’s experience. It may bring back memories of the past, sustain them or frame them in response to specific ideological needs. A map is a historical product in a double sense: on one hand, it conveys the order of past events, and on the other hand, it presents current ideological constructs that underpin it.

7. The act of giving testimony is an act of mapping. In turn, the act of drawing a map is an act of translation, in which the topological qualities of a post-disaster space and the circumstances of giving testimony are translated into topographic qualities. Mapping concerns navigation in space to the same degree that it concerns navigation in the memory of a witness and in the story that unfolds in a testimony; it depends on the individual dispositions of a witness. Creating a map involves the visual representation of the site of a crime based on codes and structures legible and comprehensible to a broader circle of recipients. It consists in translating the intensive into the categories of the extensive: seen, heard and experienced elements of a crime scene are rendered as measurable points of space seen from above.

8. In the case of maps of the dispersed Holocaust, the topographic impulse does not remove the topological aspects of the act of giving testimony from the picture altogether. Mapping is here a multi-temporal practice. Drawn maps become focal points of various temporal orders of spatial experiences: being at the site of events, producing knowledge about an event and consolidating the status of a place, processes of forgetting and memory neutralization, modern-day experience of space.

9. A map is an index of the activity of the body of a witness, who testifies regarding an uncommemorated site of genocide. It presents not only the topography of a crime scene, but also the position of a body in relation to an event, it marks the body of the one who remembers. A map retraces the routes of both victims and perpetrators as well as “observation paths” covered by a witness. Hand-made drawings mark the presence of the body, the trembling hand; shaky lines resonate with the physical condition of a witness and remain a trace of the affective qualities of the act of giving testimony at the same time.

10. New cartographic endeavors related to the dispersed Holocaust seek to reclaim for the collective memory and imagination sites that remained for a long time excluded from the topography of the Holocaust and convey their distinctive features: their multiplicity and universality, visual indistinguishability, chance nature, and the dependence on the memory of witnesses.

11. A walk is a method of giving testimony and researching, akin to mapping. During a walk with a witness, a researcher acquires knowledge from them about how to find one’s way, and he or she also learns the story of the past: a walk therefore sees the transmission of the disposition of being a witness. By researching through walking, we can understand the specificity of post-genocidal space in which the extreme and the everyday form co-dependent elements of reality. At the same time a walk differs from the general act of walking, it is spazieren – a physical activity with an ambivalent attribution of pleasure and duty, indexically connected with the body and the surrounding landscape.

12. The formula for researching sites of the dispersed Holocaust resembles mapping. It attaches importance to the multiplicity of orders that become focused in such locations, while accepting the fundamental multitude of such points. In this sense, it is a lesser science, which does seeks not to subordinate research material to valid procedures, but to freely follow unique problems generated by a post-disaster space.

13. Necrocartography as a technique for researching sites of the dispersed Holocaust combines the topographic gesture of mapping with topological sensitivity. The latter, in turn, means a distrust of dichotomic divisions and binary categories; it means turning static models of reflection inside out, but also showing special sensitivity to nuances, being open and ready for the unexpected. Necrocartography is a movement away from synthetic models of knowledge towards associative, inclusive configurations of meanings. According to the formula proposed here, necrocartography is a narrative about uncommemorated sites of genocide, a narrative whose desire is to transgress its own borders. It seeks to become a research concept with sufficient generative power and agency to change the rules of its own field and the reality that it describes.

The article presents the results of research conducted as part of the project Unmemorialized Genocide Sites and Their Impact on Collective Memory, Cultural Identity, Ethical Attitudes and Intercultural Relations in Contemporary Poland (National Programme for the Development of Humanities, reg. no. 2aH 15 0121 83) under the supervision of Prof. Roma Sendyka at the Polish Studies Department, Jagiellonian University in Krakow.

1Wisława Szymborska, “Map,” in Szymborska, Map: Collected and Last Poems, ed. Clare Cavanagh, trans. Clare Cavanagh, Stanisław Barańczak (Boston, New York: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2015), 432.

2Beata Chomątowska, Stacja Muranów (Wołowiec: Czarne, 2012), e-book. Part of this quotation appears in Roma Sendyka’s article “Sites That Haunt: Affects and Non-sites of Memory,” trans. Jennifer Croft, East European Politics and Societies and Cultures, vol. 30, no. 4 (2016): 688.

3We researched the site as part of the grant Unmemorialized Genocide Sites and Their Impact on Collective Memory, Cultural Identity, Ethical Attitudes and Intercultural Relations in Contemporary Poland (National Programme for the Development of Humanities, reg. no. 2aH 15 0121 83) under the supervision of prof. dr hab. Roma Sendyka at the Polish Studies Department, Jagiellonian University in Krakow. See: Aleksandra Szczepan, Łukasz Posłuszny, “Bielcza i Borzęcin. Ustanawianie i uśmierzanie pamięci o romskiej Zagładzie,” in Nie-miejsca pamięci. Nekrotopografie, ed. R. Sendyka, M. Kobielska, J. Muchowski, A. Szczepan (Warsaw: Wydawnictwo IBL PAN, 2020) (in press).

4Roz Mortimer, Bielcza III – Driving in Circles, Reduced to Silence: Landscape, Atrocity and Culture of Forgetting,, accessed June 25, 2019. Adam Bartosz is an organiser of the Roma Caravan Memorial initiative, commemorating the genocide of Roma people in Lesser Poland.

5We have coined this term by analogy with the category of “post-ghetto spaces” proposed by Jacek Leociak. See Jacek Leociak, “Miejsce-po-getcie,” in Leociak, Spojrzenia na warszawskie getto (Warsaw: Dom Spotkań z Historią, 2011), 40–52.

6Roma Sendyka defines non-sites of memory as follows: “The basic indicator is a lack of (any whatsoever, or of correct, appropriate) information, of material forms of commemoration (plaques, monuments, museums), and of marked boundaries (delineating the range of the territory in question). Non-sites of memory would also have in common a past or continued presence of human remains that have not been neutralized by funerary rites. These sites do not, however, share physical characteristics: they may be extensive or limited to one place, urban or rural, though they are often characterized by some variety of physical disturbance to the organic order (human remains, plants, animals) and to the inorganic order (ruins, new construction). The victims who should be commemorated on such sites typically have a collective identity (usually ethnic) distinct from the society currently living in the area, whose self-conception is threatened by the occurrence of the non-site of memory. Such localities are transformed, manipulated, neglected, or contested in some other way (often damaged or littered), the resultant discouragement of memorialization leading to ethnically problematic revitalization that draws criticism.” Roma Sendyka, “Sites that Haunt: Affects and Non-sites of Memory,” trans. Jennifer Croft, East European Politics and Societies and Cultures, vol. 30, no. 4 (2016): 700.

7Roma Sendyka, “Prism: Understanding Non-Sites of Memory,” trans. Jennifer Croft, Teksty Drugie, 2 (2015): 27.


9According to Timothy Snyder, the bloodlands is a territory where around fourteen million people perished – victims of the Nazi and Soviet regimes; they extend “from central Poland to western Russia, through Ukraine, Belarus, and the Baltic States”. Timothy Snyder, Bloodlands: Europe between Hitler and Stalin (London: Vintage Books, 2011), viii.

10See Manuel DeLanda, Intensive Science and Virtual Philosophy (New York: Continuum, 2002).

11Damian P. O’Doherty, “Off-Road and Spaced-Out in the City: Organization and the Interruption of Topology,” Space and Culture, no. 2 (2013): 211–228.

12Jonathan Murdoch, Post-Structuralist Geography: A Guide to Relational Space (London: Sage Publications, 2006), 12.

13Lauren Martin, Anna J. Secor, “Towards a Post-Mathematical Topology,” Progress in Human Geography, no. 38 (2014): 422.

14Murdoch, Post-Structuralist Geography, 12.

15This move has been successfully implemented for quite a long time in research in the field of non-representational theories of space, concepts of relational and hybrid geography, psychogeography, as well as the geography of networks and critical studies on digital design of space. See, among other publications, Hayden Lorimer, “Cultural Geography: The Busyness of Being ‘More-Than-Representational’,” Progress in Human Geography, no. 29 (2005): 83–94; Taking-Place: Non-Representational Theories and Geography, ed. B. Anderson, P. Harrison (Farnham: Ashgate, 2010; Nigel Thrift, Non-Representational Theory: Space, Politics, Affect (London: Routledge, 2007); Jonathan Murdoch, Post-Structuralist Geography; Erin Manning, Relationscapes: Movement, Art, Philosophy (Cambridge – London: The MIT Press, 2009); Sarah Whatmore, Hybrid Geographies: Natures Cultures Spaces (London: Sage, 2002); Virginia Blum, Anna Secor, “Psychotopologies: Closing the Circuit between Psychic and Material Space,” Environment and Planning D: Society and Space, no. 29 (2011): 1030–1047; Psychoanalytic Geographies, ed. P. Kingsbury, S. Pile (Farnham: Ashgate, 2014); Brian Massumi, “Strange Horizon: Buildings, Biograms, and the Body Topologic,” in Massumi, Parables for the Virtual: Movement, Affect, Sensation (Durham, London: Duke University Press, 2002), 177–207.

16Rob Shields, “Cultural Topology: The Seven Bridges of Königsburg, 1736,” Theory, Culture, Society, no. 29 (2012), 54.

17Gilles Deleuze, Félix Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus, trans. Brian Massumi (Minneapolis – London: University of Minnesota Press, 1987), 483.

18The transfer of topological categories from mathematics to cultural studies raises as much enthusiasm as doubt. Martin and Secor remark that such borrowings are seldom underpinned by reliable discussions of mathematical theorems, emphasising rather “the poetics, and not the axiomatics, of topology”, which consequently does not turn the latter into an effective analytical tool, but into an attractive albeit necessarily superficial metaphor.  Martin and Secor see a chance to overcome the signalized impasse in adopting post-mathematical positions in a “less naive” approach to topological critique, one which does not postulate a more careful reflection on mathematical rules, but an honest acknowledgment of one’s own (humanistic) limitations in the field and treating topology as a creative inspiration rather than scientific aspiration. The post-mathematical position is meant to attribute a greater value to the role of anthropological reflection in the turn towards topological interpretation of phenomena, and, above all, it means a more precise tracing of the genealogy of conceptual transfers and reasons behind their popularity in cultural studies. See Martin, Secor, Towards a Post-Mathematical Topology.

19Shields, Cultural Topology, 50.

20Ibid., 55.

21Martin Gilbert, The Dent Atlas of the Holocaust: The Complete History (London: Taylor & Francis e-Library, 2005), II. See also, accessed March 23, 2020.

22Cf. Veronica Della Dora, “Performative Atlases: Memory, Materiality, and (Co-)Authorship,” Cartographica, vol. 44, no. 4 (2009): 240–255, especially pages 245–247; Giuliana Bruno, Atlas of Emotion: Journeys in Art, Architecture, And Film (New York: Verso, 2018); Benjamin H.D. Buchloh, “Gerhard Richter’s ‘Atlas’: The Anomic Archive,” October, vol. 88 (1999): 117–145, especially pages 119–121.

[3Donna Haraway, Simians, Cyborgs and Women: The Reinvention of Nature (New York: Routledge, 1991), 188–189.

24Timothy Snyder, “Holocaust: The Ignored Reality,” June 25, 2009,, accessed August 13, 2019.

25Cf. Max Horkheimer, Critique of Instrumental Reason, trans. Matthew O’Connell (London: Verso, 2013).

26See Andrew Charlesworth, “Topography of Genocide,” in The Historiography of the Holocaust, ed. D. Stone (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2004), 216–251; Charlesworth, “Towards a Geography of the Shoah,” Journal of Historical Geography, vol. 18, no. 4 (2002): 464–469; Charlesworth, “Hello Darkness: Envoi and Caveat,” Common Knowledge, vol. 9, no. 3 (2003): 508–519.

27Tim Cole, Holocaust City: The Making of a Jewish Ghetto (New York: Routledge, 2003).

28Barbara Engelking, Jacek Leociak, Getto warszawskie: Przewodnik po nieistniejącym mieście (Warsaw: Wydawnictwo IFiS PAN, 2001).

29Historical Atlas of the Holocaust (New York: Macmillan, 1996); Encyclopedia of Camps and Ghettos, 1933–1945, vols. I–III (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2009–2012).

30Anne Kelly Knowles, Tim Cole, Alberto Giordano, “Geographies of the Holocaust,” in Geographies of the Holocaust, ed. A.K. Knowles, T. Cole, A. Giordano (Bloomington–Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 2014), 1.

31Paul B. Jaskot, Tim Cole, “Afterword,” in Geographies of the Holocaust, 228.

32It is worth adding, as a side note, that one chapter of the book is devoted to Central and Eastern Europe. Waitman Wade Beorn and Anne Kelly Knowles write in “Killing on the Ground and in the Mind: The Spatialities of Genocide in the East” about the course the actions of the Einsatzgruppen took in Lithuania and Belarus. The text is illustrated with aesthetically sophisticated photographs of an empty Central European landscape and virtually neglects incidental witnesses to the Holocaust both in the reconstruction of past events and in the order of visual representation. The article by Beorn and Knowles shows very well that the Holocaust in the East is still primarily a (colonial) phantasm of Western scholarship, while the space east of Auschwitz is an unmappable wilderness, whose strangeness is neutralized by post-Lanzmannian landscapes: a desolate idyll following a catastrophe, and a patronizing avoidance of those users of the space who remained there.

33Anne Kelly Knowles, Levi Westerveld, Laura Strom, “Inductive Visualization: A Humanistic Alternative to GIS,” GeoHumanities, vol. 1, no. 2 (2015) 233–265.

34An example of such a mixed method of topographic and topological mapping can be found in a project called I Was There: Places of Experience in the Holocaust, which seeks to visualize the individual spatial experience of the Holocaust represented in three video testimonies of survivors. Levi Westerveld, Anne Kelly Knowles, “I Was There: Places of Experience in the Holocaust,”, accessed August 14, 2019. Cf. Tim Cole, Alberto Giordano, “The Limits of GIS: Towards a GIS of Place,” Transactions in GIS, vol. 22, no. 3 (2018): 1–13.

35Paolo Giaccaria, Claudio Minca, “Topographies / Topologies of the Camp: Auschwitz as a Spatial Threshold,” Political Geography”, vol. 30 (2011): 3–12. Of note here is also the pioneering article Holocaust Topologies by David B. Clarke, Marcus A. Doel and Francis X. McDonough, who postulate a rethinking of geopolitical, geohistorical and geophilosophical conditions regarding the possibility of the Holocaust, and above all the need to understand that in the Nazis’ expansion project, real space and social space were impossible to separate: the Lebensraum required Entfernung (complete removal of the Jews), and the real deterritorialization of the areas in the east was supposed to serve the cause of social reterriorialization. See David B. Clarke, Marcus A. Doel, Francis X. McDonough, “Holocaust Topologies: Singularity, Politics, Space,” Political Geography, vol. 15, no. 6–7 (1996): 457–489.

36Term coined by Giorgio Agamben. Cf. Agamben, Homo Sacer: Sovereign Power and Bare Life, trans. Daniel Heller-Roazen (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1998), 21.

37Paolo Giaccaria, Claudio Minca, “Nazi Biopolitics and the Dark Geographies of the Selva,” in Hitler’s Geographies: The Spatialities of the Third Reich, ed. P. Giaccaria, C. Minca (Chicago–London: The University of Chicago Press, 2016), 245–265. Cf. Agamben, Homo sacer, 105.

38Martin Pollack, Kontaminierte Landschaften (Vienna: Residenz Verlag, 2014).

39Lesław M. Bartelski, Pamięć żywa (Warsaw: Wydawnictwa Szkolne i Pedagogiczne, 1977), 215.

40Act on the Establishment of the Council for the Protection of Monuments of Martyrdom as of 2 July 1947, Journal of Laws, 1947, no. 52, item 264.

41See Robert Traba, “Symbole pamięci: II wojna światowa w świadomości zbiorowej Polaków. Szkic do tematu,” Przegląd Zachodni, no. 1 (2000): 55–57.

42Bartelski, Pamięć żywa, 226.

43The Alert of Victory as a special kind of memorial movement, as well as its forensic and performative aspects, are discussed in depth by Katarzyna Grzybowska. See Katarzyna Grzybowska, “Alert harcerski 1965: poruszenie i poruczenie,” in Nie-miejsca pamięci: Nekrotopologie, ed. R. Sendyka, A. Janus, K. Jarzyńska, K. Siewior (Warsaw: Wydawnictwo IBL PAN, 2020).

44Alert from Szubin, Institute of National Remembrance, sign. GK 195/II/17. Courtesy of Agnieszka Nieradko.

45Przewodnik po upamiętnionych miejscach walk i męczeństwa 1939–1945, 4th edition (Warsaw: Wydawnictwo Sport i Turystyka, 1988), 5 (1st edition 1964).

46Bartelski, Pamięć żywa, 282–290.

47Traba, Symbole pamięci, 61–62.

48Cf. e.g. Jacek Leociak, “Instrumentalizacja Zagłady w dyskursie marcowym,” Kwartalnik Historii Żydów, vol. 228, no. 4 (2008): 447–458; Rok 1966. PRL na zakręcie, ed. K. Chmielewska, G. Wołowiec, T. Żukowski (Warsaw: Instytut Badań Literackich PAN, 2014).

49Przewodnik historyczny po trasach I rajdu “Szlakiem walk z faszyzmem” (Kraków: Akademia Górniczo-Hutnicza, 1966), 1.

50Term by Patrick Desbois. Cf. Desbois, Porteur de mémoires: sur les traces de la Shoah par balles (Paris: Flammarion, 2009).

51See Rob Kitchin, Chris Perkins, Martin Dodge, “Thinking about Maps,” in Rethinking Maps, ed. M. Dodge, R. Kitchin, Ch. Perkins (London–New York: Routledge, 2009), 1–25; cf. Elżbieta Rybicka, “Mapy: Od metafory do kartografii krytycznej,” Teksty Drugie, no. 4 (2013): 30–47.

52E.g. John Brian Harley, “Deconstructing the map,” Cartographica, no. 2 (1989): 1–20; Haraway, Simians, Cyborgs, and Women; Denis Wood, John Fels, The Natures of Maps: Cartographic Constructions of the Natural World (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2008).

53Omer Bartov is one of the first figures to polemicise against this stereotype in the text “Eastern Europe as the Site of Genocide,” The Journal of Modern History, no. 80 (2008): 557–593. We thank Roma Sendyka for drawing our attention to this.

54See e.g. John Pickles, A History of Spaces: Cartographic Reason, Mapping and the Geo-Coded World (London: Routledge, 2004); Denis Wood, The Power of Maps (New York: Guilford Press, 1992); James Corner, “The Agency of Mapping: Speculation, Critique and Invention,” in Mappings, ed. D. Cosgrove (London: Reaktion Books, 1999).

55Pickles, A History of Spaces, 12.

56Tim Ingold, The Perception of the Environment: Essays in Livelihood, Dwelling and Skill (London: Routledge, 2000), 219–242.

57Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari connected the category of the map (as opposed to a tracing) with the open structure of the rhizome: a map, they wrote, “is entirely oriented toward an experimentation with the real. [...] A map is open [...] A map is an issue of performance”. See Gilles Deleuze, Félix Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia, trans. Brian Massumi (Minneapolis–London: University of Minnesota Press, 2005), 12. Cf. also John Allen, Topologies of Power: Beyond Territory and Networks (New York: Routledge, 2016).

58USC Shoah Foundation’s Visual History Archive,, accessed August 17, 2019.

59This image inevitably brings to mind the only scene with a map in Claude Lanzmann’s Shoah, in which a guard, Franz Suchomiel, uses an analogous map to explain the topography of Treblinka.

60Concerning Radecznica, see article by Aleksandra Szczepan, Roma Sendyka and Maria Kobielska “Radecznica. Mapa i spacer jako praktyki sieciowania nie-miejsc pamięci” in the volume Nie – miejsca pamięci. Nekrokartografie, and articles by Maria Kobielska and Aleksandra Szczepan “Świadeczność. Nie-miejsca i ich świadkowie” and by Jakub Muchowski “Histeryk, kronikarz gminy, kolekcjoner. Historycy wernakularni nie-miejsc pamięci” in the volume Nie-miejsca pamięci. Nekrotopologie.

61Stanisław Rozwar Zybała, Marianna Zybała, Tak cię widzę, Radecznico, typescript, Radecznica 1998/2004, 63 [no pagination].

62Stanisław R. Zybała, Marianna Zybała, Tak cię widzę, Radecznico (Radecznica: Urząd Gminy Radecznica, 2004).

63Ibid., 23.

64Ibid., 45.

65Ibid., 25.

66Cf. Kobielska, Szczepan, Świadeczność.

67Bruno, Atlas of Emotions.

68The same symbol also features on the commemoration financed at that site by the Rabbinical Commission and The Matzevah Foundation.

69Tim Ingold, Lines: A Brief History (London: Routledge Classics, 2007), 87.

70Roland Barthes, Empire of Signs, trans. Richard Howard (New York: Hill and Wang, 1982), 36.

71Kitchin, Perkins, Dodge, “Thinking about Maps,” 21.

72See Bruno Latour, Science in Action: How to Follow Scientists and Engineers through Society (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 1987), 227–237.

73In his analysis of different manners of experiencing space (walking vs. transport/traveling, mapping vs. route planning, moving along vs. moving across, etc.), Tim Ingold also emphasizes the contrast between understanding a place “as a knot tied from multiple and interlaced strands of movement and growth”, part of a meshwork, and a “node in the static network of connectors”. Ingold, Lines: A Brief History, 75.

74Tim Ingold, Jo Lee Vergunst, “Introduction,” in Ways of Walking: Ethnography and Practice on Foot, ed. T. Ingold, J.L. Vergunst (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2008), 1–19.

75Yahad – In Unum Archive (hereafter as YiUA), recording no. 31LT. We thank Michał Chojak for his help in finding testimonies from the Yahad – In Unum collection.

76YiUA, recording no. 30LT.

77YiUA, recording no. 378P.

78We would like to thank Renata Masna for information about the testimony from Mszana Dolna and for reconstructing the course of the testimony.

79Ingold, Lines, 85.

80Ingold, The Perception of the Environment, 220.


82Ingold, Lines, 84–85.


84Massumi, Strange Horizon, 185–186.

85Ibid., 187.


87Shields, Cultural Topology, 50. Cf. Deleuze, Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus, 111–148.

88Ewa Domańska, Nekros: Wprowadzenie do ontologii martwego ciała (Warsaw: Wydawnictwo Naukowe PWN, 2017). Cf. Dorota Sajewska, Necroperformance: Cultural Reconstructions of the War Body, trans. Simon Wloch (Zurich, Warsaw: Diaphanes, Zbigniew Raszewski Theatre Institute, 2019).

89Thomas W. Laqueur, Work of the Dead: A Cultural History of Mortal Remains (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2015), 112–113.

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