Thursday Lecture Series: Observation and Obfuscation

Visualizing Krakow under Nazi Occupation

Thursday, The Heyman Center, Second Floor Common Room

Full title: Visualizing Krakow under Nazi Occupation: Exploring Digital and Analog Methods to Analyze the Built Environment

Krakow became a key location within the National Socialist plan for military expansion and the implementation of genocide in Eastern Europe during World War II. Here Hans Frank and the General Government he led developed their policies of oppression and occupation by establishing a formidable military and SS presence as well as claiming Krakow as “Germanized” again. Part of these schemes included also the plans for rebuilding Krakow, led by architect Hubert Ritter, which followed the goals of rebuilding cities established by Hitler for Nuremberg, Berlin, and elsewhere. At the same time, of course, Frank also established a ghetto (opened March 1941) for the Jewish population as part of the radicalization of policies that led to the genocide. Urban and architectural visualizations then and now help us to conceptualize these disparate histories together, seeing how the ambitions for establishing Nazi presence complemented and contradicted spatial planning for the Jewish community. This presentation will, on the one hand,  analyze anew historical visualizations by Ritter and his staff, emphasizing the importance of urban and architectural plans as a means to help clarify goals within the Nazi occupation. Special attention will be paid to how Ritter developed from an important and experimental architect of the Weimar era into one of the architectural elite in the Nazi state. On the other hand, the presentation will also extend this analysis through contemporary visualizations of these sources and others using digital methods.  In both the historical and digital visualizations, the paper foregrounds what architectural evidence helps us do to interrogate the visibility or invisibility of specific groups within the racial policies and built environment of Nazi-occupied Eastern Europe.

Guest lecturer: Paul Jaskot, Duke University
Professor of Art, Art History & Visual Studies