How to “map” the war experiences of Luxembourgish recruits in a relational database? Dr. Nina JANZ speaks about the digital approach of Project WARLUX in a lecture at the Digital History Seminar (Institute of Historical Research/University of London)

The Impact and Legacy of War Experiences in Luxembourg” researches the personal side of the history of Luxembourgish youth born between 1920 and 1927 who were enrolled into German services under the Nazi occupation of Luxembourg during World War II. The research focuses on personal testimonies and their individual war experience to uncover these men, women, and families’ individual experiences. Using a relational database to represent their war experiences, we face several challenges, such as a data structure that is too rigid and strict to “map” the fluid and unpredictable life patterns of our study subjects. We developed a data model where we treat different life stations (military unit, POW camp etc.) as equal data levels like our recruits (as persons). Each “life station” or event we treat as a “person” and create a separate “biography” to include all relevant data. Afterwards, we link the life stations or events with the actual person in the database. The aim of my talk will be the “translation” of lives, with its twists and turns into a static data set such as a relational database to map the individual war experiences of our study object.

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