Spatial Semantics of Soviet Incarceration of German Prisoners of War, 1941–1956

Susan Grunewald (Pittsburgh U)

The weekly colloquium of the Collaborative Research Centre provides a forum for presentations by external guests as well as by members of the SFB 1199 within a tailored thematic framework. The format helps to create a common ground for discussion between guests, the Collaborative Research Centre, as well as the wider academic public. The complete program can be found here.


This presentation will explore the spatial semantics of German prisoner of war (POW) incarceration in the Soviet Union during and after the Second World War. It will present visualizations of the forced labor camp system for German POWs, explore the connection of this system to the notorious Gulag prison camp system, and discuss the real and imagined geographies of the POW experience in the USSR. This presentation will also discuss spatial semantics more broadly and how individual, focused research projects can be incorporated into larger digital spatial projects such as the World Historical Gazetteer.

The session will be held in presence, but it is also possible to access it online. To join, please click the button below.

Biographical Note

Susan Grundewald (University of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania)

Susan Grunewald is the Digital History Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Pittsburgh World History Center. She received my Ph.D. in History from Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, PA USA in May 2019. Her dissertation examines German prisoners of war (POWs) in the Soviet Union from 1941 to 1956. It explores the economic, political, and legal considerations for their long-lasting detainment after the end of the Second World War. She heavily uses Digital Humanities, specifically Geographic Information System (GIS) mapping through the program ArcGIS, to support her dissertation arguments. Namely, she maps the locations of the POW camps across the entire Soviet Union to support her claim that the POWs were initially held for economic considerations. Broadly, she specializes in Soviet and German history as well as the history of memory.