il portale dell'ebraismo italiano

Map of deportation from Milan,
History is taking shape

It is first step toward digital and geographic modeling of deportation in Italy. A project carried out by Giovanni Pietro Vitali, a data analysis expert, together with CDEC Foundation and in collaboration with the Shoah Memorial of Milan. The result of this synergy has led to the reconstruction of a map that makes it possible to visualize space-time movements of Milanese Jews and Jews arrested in the city of Milan. “It is an example of how digital tools allow a visualization of the work of historians by using the enormous richness of data collected over time, in this case by CDEC”, points out to Pagine Ebraiche Vitali, professor of Digital Humanities at the Université de Versailles Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines.
By cross-referencing the data available on the Digital Library of the CDEC Foundation, result of the enormous research work on the Italian Shoah conducted by the historian Liliana Picciotto, Vitali and his colleague Simone Landucci have worked to create, step by step, an interactive and multimedia map, where places and paths of hundreds of people victims of the persecution can be observed.
More specifically, 260 Jews arrested in the area of Milan and 160 Milanese Jews, several of whom passed through platform 21 of the Central Station, now the Shoah Memorial.
“The map – stresses Laura Brazzo, head of the CDEC Archive – will be an extraordinary educational tool available precisely to the Memorial, to its guides and to its visitors to understand clearly and visually what happened in that place”. In addition to that, according to Brazzo having available the digital reconstruction of the itinerary of the persecution represents “an added value for the commitment of the Memorial as well as of the CDEC. To the former, as we were saying, it provides a very efficient tool to tell its past”.
For the CDEC, explains the head of the Archive who has cooperated with Vitali for a long time, it represents a way of enhancing the value of the wealth of detailed information on the Jews’ fate built over the years. Both Vitali and Brazzo point out that it is a unique project which represents an example of how historical research can evolve, thanks to digital tools.
“Data tell us about history, knowing how to listen to them and place them in a visualization is a crucial process for the advancement of critical debate, but, above all, it is a tool to fight phenomena of narrative bias and revisionism concerning memories that are still fresh, such as those betraying World War II” explained the Digital Humanities Professor during a recent talk.
Vitali then continued, “Creating data, structuring metadata, and then visualizing them, leaves no room for a biased interpretation of historical events. It becomes a clear and certain answer for anyone who wants to read history without running into mystification and without leaving space for narrative biases”. To do so, he adds to Pagine Ebraiche, it is important to follow the courageous example of the CDEC Foundation, which, through its Digital Library, has made its own wealth of information available to everyone, to both researchers and ordinary users. “I believe we are the only institute which has made its data about deportation available in a format that can be reused by others. This means that our data are transparent, verifiable and precisely reusable by anyone. – notes Brazzo – And I think it is a choice that allows the advancement of knowledge”.

Translated by Laura Cattani and revised by Francesca Pischedda, students at the Advanced School for Interpreters and Translators of the University of Trieste, interns at the newspaper office of the Union of the Italian Jewish Communities – Pagine Ebraiche.