A Child’s Map of the Jewish Exodus from Nazi Germany
The flight of the Freudenheims through the colourful crayons of their 11-year-old son Fritz
From a young age, Frank was fascinated by maps and atlases, and the stories they contained. Finding his birthplace on the map in the endpapers of Tolkien's Lord of the Rings only increased his interest in the mystery and message of maps.
While pursuing a career in journalism, Frank started a blog called Strange Maps, as a repository for the weird and wonderful cartography he found hidden in books, posing as everyday objects and (of course) floating around the Internet.
"Each map tells a story, but the stories told by your standard atlas for school or reference are limited and literal: they show only the most practical side of the world, its geography and its political divisions. Strange Maps aims to collect and comment on maps that do everything but that - maps that show the world from a different angle".
A remit that wide allows for a steady, varied diet of maps: Frank has been writing about strange maps since 2006, published a book on the subject in 2009 and joined Big Think in 2010. Readers send in new material daily, and he keeps bumping in to cartography that is delightfully obscure, amazingly beautiful, shockingly partisan, and more.
In 1938, Germany was not a good place to be a Jew. While some German Jews might still have hoped the anti-semitism of the Nazi regime would somehow blow over, those who had the means to flee the country did so – if they found a place that would have them. The Freudenheims did, and managed to leave Berlin for Montevideo.
Their young son Fritz, 11 years old at the time, documented their traumatic odyssey in a map composed in bright colours, cheerfully entitled: Von der alten Heimat zu der neuen Heimat! (‘From the old home to the new home!’) He documents the Freudenheim family’s locations as far back as 1925, before he was born himself. Africa, with only one port of call, is portrayed as relatively small, while South America is more defined (all countries are shown) but detached from North America. Of the European countries, Germany looms largest; the trains that take the Freudenheims on their travels inside the country would soon be used for more sinister transports.
And what became of young Fritz? We don’t know, but there is some evidence that he lived a long and happy life. A bit of googling learns that a Fritz Freudenheim, born in 1926, died in São Paulo, Brazil in 2008. Fritz was the husband of Irene and the father of Irith and Andrea Michele.
This map was sent in by Liam Flanagan, who saw this map at the Jewish Museum in Berlin.
Strange Maps #352
Got a strange map? Let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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