World War II Captured Maps : Introduction
Cartographic materials created and used during times of global conflict contain priceless knowledge about shifting boundaries, troop movements, and even daily civilian life. UB Libraries is proud to hold dozens of maps from World War II. Of particular importance are our German Captured Maps (removed from Germany following the end of World War II and shipped to Washington, D.C) and German city plans (primarily created by Allied Forces). While our German city plans have been encapsulated and cataloged for several years, our captured maps showing Estonia have not been added to our external catalog. Unfortunately, many American libraries holding German captured maps are in a similar situation. These maps lie at the bottom of piles, drawers, or boxes. Recent efforts by librarians at institutions such as the University of Tennessee, Knoxville; Stanford University; and UC Berkeley generated a renewed interest in these maps and the need to make them available to researchers, whether by digitization or a shared catalog.
As outlined by Julie Sweetkind-Singer and Gregory March in their article Acquisition of World War II Captured Maps: A Case Study, librarians only recently rediscovered exactly which libraries received the German captured maps from the Army Mapping Service in the 1950s. This information was contained in a letter from C.V. Ruzek, Jr., Lt. Colonel, Corps of Engineers, dated 27 February 1950. Notably, University at Buffalo is not listed as an institution receiving these maps.
Previous UB Libraries staff and faculty have identified William Sheridan Allen (1932-2013), UB History Department faculty, as the source of our own collection. This scholar, author of works including The Nazi Seizure of Power: The Experience of a Single German Town, 1930-1935, is believed to have donated these maps to our collection. While this provenance cannot be conclusively verified for all World War II maps in our collection, we remain thankful to Dr. Allen for sharing these treasures with us and our community.
This library research guide is intended to provide information related to UB's collection of World War II captured maps to make them more visible and useful to researchers worldwide. Digitization of these maps is pending; in the meantime, we invite users to reach out to Kim Plassche for more information or to schedule an in-person consultation. Please also refer to the additional libraries and reading materials on the final tab of this guide.
Translations of Common German Terms on Maps
|Nachdruck der russischen Beutekarte||Reprint of Russian booty map|
|Nur für den Dienstgebrauch||For official use only|
|Vorläufige Ausgabe||Preliminary edition|
|Deutsche Heereskarte||German Army Map|
|Nicht für die Offenlichkeit bestimmt||Not intended for the public|
|Bearbeitung u. Druck||Editing and Printing|
|Die Höhenangaben in Metern||Altitudes in Meters|
|Der Abstand der voll ausgezogenen Höhenlinien betragt 10 m||The distance between the solid contour lines is 10 m|
The below glossaries will be helpful for researchers using the maps, particularly those unfamiliar with the German language or Nazi terms.
Original content in this guide was compiled by Kimberly Plassche, former Map Librarian.
Thank you to the following individuals for help with this research guide:
- Daniel Plassche (UB graduate, MLS and M.A. History), for assistance with translating German terms and place names, verifying historical facts, and book recommendations;
- Dr. Michael Kicey (UB Libraries Faculty Librarian), for advice regarding transliteration of place names