Seismica is live!

As Open Science Editor of Seismica, a new diamond open access journal in Seismology and Earthquake Science, I’m pleased to share that Seismica is live!

Our first article by Sanne Cottar et al. was published today.

For the open science enthusiasts out there, this paper does it all!

  • Data availability ✅
  • Code sharing ✅
  • Author contributions ✅
  • Public peer review ✅

This paper was free for the authors (no APCs) and is free to read, the first of many in the pipeline at Seismica.

How historic maps tell the story of Ukraine

Please join us for a Maps & More program at the Earth Sciences and Map Library in McCone Hall, located near North Gate on the UC Berkeley campus, on Wednesday, October 26th.

Professor John Connelly (Director, Institute of Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies) will introduce a temporary exhibit of historic maps of Ukraine with brief remarks at 12:15 PM and 2:15 PM. Dr. Connelly, a specialist in East European history, currently teaches a course “Ukraine and Its Neighbors.”

Highlights from the library’s collection of Ukrainian, Central European and East European maps and atlases will be on display throughout the afternoon, from noon to 4 PM.

European Renaissance cartographers treated Ukraine as a peripheral place. That changed in the 17th century, in part due to work done by Guillaume le Vasseur de Beauplan (1600-1673), a French military engineer and cartographer, who served for two decades in the army of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, starting in 1630.

Beauplan was initially charged with identifying suitable sites for the construction of fortifications in Ukraine. Later he planned settlements, and built or enlarged fortresses. Beginning in 1648, Beauplan turned his attention to the map trade. He published a general map of Ukraine, followed by a special map of the same area on eight sheets, engraved in the workshop of the Dutch cartographer and map publisher Jodocus Hondius.

A decorative cartouche, from the map General Depiction of the Deserted Plains, Commonly Identified as Ukraine, Together with its Neighboring Provinces (Gdansk, Poland, 1648), drawn by Beauplan, who had crisscrossed the territory of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and the lands of the Cossack Hetmanate on military campaigns against Cossacks and Crimean Tatars and travelled throughout much of what today constitutes Ukraine.

In 1660, a Beauplan map published in Rouen, France, by Jacques Cailloue, the Carte d’Ukranie, contenant plusieurs provinces comprises entre les confins de Moscovie et les limittes de Transilvanie, boldly demarcated the boundaries of Ukraine. That same year Cailloue also published a second, enlarged edition of Beauplan’s popular book Description d’Ukranie (Rouen, 1660). A third edition followed in 1661.  In his writings and on his maps Beauplan carefully noted the geographical naming practices of the indigenous inhabitants which he encountered in these borderland areas. His decision to identify the vast region located between Transylvania and Muscovy as Ukraine reflects 17th century Cossack usage.

Maps that Beauplan produced were subsequently incorporated in Johannes Blaeu’s Atlas major (1659-72) and appeared in the 1680s in influential atlases published by Johannes Janssonius and Moses Pitt. Other cartographers now treated Beauplan’s work in Eastern Europe as authoritative and continued to see Ukraine as “Land of the Cossacks.” For the next century and a half other cartographers faithfully reproduced Beauplan’s maps in atlas compilations. Beauplan thus played a crucial role in helping to codify the usage of the geographical name “Ukraine” for a large defined territory.

Most of the maps and atlases in the collections of the Earth Sciences and Map Library cover Ukraine and associated larger frames of geographical reference, like the Black Sea region, Central Europe, or Eastern Europe in the late 19th and 20th centuries. Some were produced by the murderous regimes which sought to dominate Ukraine and its neighbors.

The Kharkiv region, detail from an ethnographic map of the Ukrainian S.S.R. based on the 1926 census of the Soviet Union. That census took place when Ukrainians were still free to express ethnic preferences, before the Stalinist repression, the Holodomor (the Terror-Famine of 1932-1933), and before Nazi Germany invaded the area and murdered millions of Ukrainians during World War II. In 1926, the countryside appears solidly Ukrainian. Most cities have sizable Jewish communities, in particular Kharkiv. Image source: Nationalitätenkarte der Ukraine (Berlin, 1943), from Atlas der Ukraine and benachbarten Gebiete, a loose-leaf atlas published by a Nazi Ostforschung Institute. Digitized by the UC Berkeley Library, as part of its ongoing German World War II Captured Maps digitial humanities project.

And finally, one of the most visually stunning maps in the collections of the Earth Sciences & Map Library:

Detail from Sergei V. Pozniak’s pictorial map The Kiev-Pechersk Lavra (Kyiv, 1994), a perspective view of Kyiv-Pechers’k Dormition Lavra, also known as the Kyiv Monastery of the Caves, founded in 1051, a preeminent center of Eastern Orthodox Christianity.

This event marks a return of the Earth Science & Map Library’s Maps and More Pop Up Exhibit Series.

Open to all audiences.

Event contact:, 510-642-2997

Access Coordinator: Susan Powell,, 510-642-2997

UC GIS Week 2022: Registration now open!

Register now for the UC GIS Week conference from Nov. 15th – 17th!

The University of California GIS Week is an opportunity for you to learn and engage with experts and mapping projects across the UC system and beyond!

This free hybrid conference is supported by the UC GIS Leadership Committee. In addition to many virtual talks and workshops, keep an eye on the schedule for in-person events happening around the UC Berkeley campus.

Banner image for UC GIS Week 2022

What a GIS & Map Librarian does all day

GIS & Map Librarian Susan Powell recently wrote a guest blog post for the non-profit Guerrilla Cartography about what she does in her work for the UC Berkeley Library. Guerrilla Cartography logo Susan also serves on the board of Guerrilla Cartography, which publishes crowd-sourced atlases. The group’s latest project, “Shelter: An Atlas,” is set to be printed later this year. Read all about “What a GIS & Map Librarian does all day” at the Guerrilla Cartography blog!

GIS & Mapping Community of Practice meetup on Oct. 17

Join us for the next campus GIS & Mapping Community of Practice meetup on October 17 from 2-3 pm! This month’s meetup will take place virtually on Zoom. Register to receive the link.

world map made up of little peopleThis informal meetup offers participants an opportunity to get to know other people using mapping tools and techniques across campus, regardless of discipline. Whether you’re just getting started exploring GIS & Mapping or a seasoned pro (or anywhere in between!), all are welcome to participate in the GIS & Mapping Community of Practice. Bring your questions and get excited to meet fellow mappers!

Let us know if you’re interested in sharing this month (or at a future meetup) during our community “show and tell,” and also what topics you’re interested in learning about, by completing the GIS & Mapping Community of Practice Interest Form.

Workshop: Creating Web Maps with ArcGIS Online

Digital Publishing Workshop Series

Creating Web Maps with ArcGIS Online
Thursday, October 13th, 11:10am – 12:30pm
Online: Register to receive the Zoom link
Susan Powell

Want to make a web map, but not sure where to start? This short workshop will introduce key mapping terms and concepts and give an overview of popular platforms used to create web maps. We’ll explore one of these platforms (ArcGIS Online) in more detail. You’ll get some hands-on practice adding data, changing the basemap, and creating interactive map visualizations. At the end of the workshop you’ll have the basic knowledge needed to create your own simple web maps. Register here

Upcoming Workshops in this Series – Fall 2022:

  • The Long Haul: Best Practices for Making Your Digital Project Last
  • Copyright and Fair Use for Digital Projects


Please see for details.


Escape the Earth Sciences & Map Library!

Last year we challenged undergraduates in the Earth & Planetary Sciences and Geography Departments to “escape” from the library by answering a series of questions related to the library’s platforms and services.

The Virtual Escape Room is back again this fall!

escape room screenshot



The Escape Room is open August 22 – September 15, 2022.

The Escape Room is restricted to UC Berkeley affiliated students, staff and faculty. A “” email address is required to participate.


Following the pandemic closures, the Earth Sciences & Map Library reopened in August of 2021. With the start of that new academic year, the Earth Sciences & Map Library staff wanted to welcome back students and remind them of our available library services and spaces. Read about the creation of the 2021 Escape Room in this blog written by a member of the Earth Sciences & Map Library staff.

Library reading room with desks, chairs, computers, and books.
Reading Room at the Earth Sciences & Map Library

Updates & Audience

The 2022 Virtual Escape Room continues last year’s Stranger Things theme with relevant updates to reflect changes in the library catalog as well as staffing and hours updates.

The Escape Room is open to all, but targets undergraduates taking EPS and Geography courses. In order to encourage camaraderie among departments housed within McCone Hall, affiliated students, faculty, and staff are encouraged to participate in the Escape Room’s simultaneous Battle of McCone competition. The main majors–Earth and Planetary Sciences and Geography–with the highest number of players will earn bragging rights as the winner of the friendly competition!

Room with a large table, television, and globes shelved in the back wall.
Seminar Room at the Earth Sciences & Map Library

Try it!

Reading about something is never the same as a hands-on experience. Now that you have read all about our virtual escape room try it out for yourself! Only students are eligible for prizes, but all @berkeley affiliates are welcome to participate!

Room with chairs, sofas, and lamps. There are stacks that contain books and along the walls are framed maps.
Lounge area at the Earth Sciences & Map Library


We welcome questions and comments about the Earth Sciences & Map Library Virtual Escape Room. Email or tweet us @geolibraryucb

The Man who anchored Ukraine in the West: Mykhailo Hrushevsky and the historical geography of Eastern Europe

Ukrainian 50 hryvnia note
Mykhailo Hrushevsky (1866-1934), historian and leader of the Ukrainian national movement, on a Ukrainian 50 Hryvnia banknote.

I remember sitting in a lecture hall at the University of Hamburg in 1986 during my sophomore year.  Friends had told me to come early and I watched as every single seat gradually filled up. There was a lot of chatter.

A middle-aged man stepped onto the podium, Klaus-Detlev Grothusen, a scholar of Eastern European history. Two graduate assistants set up a record player, unrolled a wall map, left a pile of books on his lectern. Grothusen was a man who loved what he was doing. Within the first 20 minutes of his ”Introduction to East European History” he had already fit in extended passages from Gogol’s Dead Souls and played a recording of a Ukrainian children’s song to illustrate his points. The students were laughing.

Then Grothusen switched gears and put on his analytical hat. The essential building blocks of East European history, he argued, were the histories of the multiethnic empires that had long dominated the region. Grothusen pointed them out on the wall map. He pointed to the Ottoman Empire which controlled much of the Balkans. Then he looked at the center of the map, focused attention on the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. It was surrounded by three dynastic empires, Tsarist Russia, the Austrian Habsburg Empire, and the Kingdom of Prussia, whose leaders would later construct and dominate the German Empire. The wall map illustrated how those three powers carved up the Kingdom of Poland and the Grand Duchy of Lithuania in three partitions in the late eighteenth century (1772, 1793, 1795). Grothusen discussed that in some detail.

In Central and Eastern Europe, nation states were latecomers. Many only appeared on the map after the Balkan Wars (1912-1913) and the end of World War I (1918-1919).  Some of those East European nation states disappeared again, when the Soviet Union revealed its imperial ambitions. In 1986, Grothusen argued that those imperial ambitions were still very much alive.

Front cover of Paul Magosci's Historical Atlas of Central Europe, recently republished in a thrid edition by the University of Washington Press.

Some historical atlases tell this story well. Paul Robert Magosci, the John Yaremko Chair of Ukrainian Studies at the University of Toronto, authored one of my favorites. The cover illustration of his Historical Atlas of Central Europe , first published in 1993, and now republished in a third edition in 2018 by the University of Toronto Press, gave me pause earlier this week. It shows Central Europe in 1910, on the eve of the Balkan Wars, still dominated by multiethnic empires.

Russian imperial historians, men like Nikolay Karamzin, Sergey Mikhaylovich Solovyov, Vasily Osipovich Klyuchevsky, and Mikhail Petrovich Pogodin, long ago identified the medieval Kyivan Rus’ as the first authentic state of the Eastern Slavs and laid claim to its legacy. The demise of the Kyivan state, they argued, meant that the center of political gravity shifted far to the northeast, away from Kyiv, to the Central Russian Principality of Vladimir-Suzdal. Initially, the rulers of the town of Moscow were just bit players, overshadowed by their more powerful neighbors, first Suzdal, then Vladimir, then Tver. In the 15th century, however, these historians declared, Moscow finally stepped out of the shadows to fulfill its imperial destiny: After the fall of Constantinople in 1453, court scribes proclaimed that the Tsarist autocracy had a valid title to be the successor of the Roman and Byzantine empires. Moscow thus stepped into her new, self-appointed role as the “Third Rome.”

The tsar himself, the embodiment of sovereign authority, stood at the center of Moscow’s autocracy. By the early 18th century, the tsar claimed to be the “Emperor and Autocrat of All the Russias.” And those ”Russias” were carefully enumerated, first and foremost Great Russia (Velikaya Rossiya or Velikorossiya), the territorial core of the Grand Duchy of Moscow; secondly White Russia (Belaya Rossiya), what is still called Belarus today; and finally Little Russia (Malaya Rossiya or Malorossiya), today the independent country of Ukraine.

Vladimir Putin has seized upon this carefully crafted story in his speeches and writings, because it provides a useable national past and seemingly, in his eyes, historical legitimacy for his dangerous and murderous pipedreams of reviving the Russian imperium. According to Putin all Eastern Slavs are essentially Russians, “one people,” a “yedinyi narod.” Fiona Hill eloquently questioned these claims in a recent Politico interview, singling out Putin’s vision of a “Russky Mir” or “Russian World.” Putin and Sergey Lavrov have long argued that Ukraine does not really exist, that its national territory is properly identified as “Novorossiya,” or “New Russia.” Both deny the right to self-determination to Ukrainians.

How do we answer that? Where can we look for an answer? The very idea of what Ukraine represents is wrapped up in another historical narrative, one that was carefully crafted by the leader of the Ukrainian national movement, the historian and statesman Mykhailo Serhiiovych Hrushevsky (1866-1934). As a young scholar, with his published thesis in hand, Hrushevsky was handed a tremendous gift, he was appointed chair of Ukrainian history at Lviv University. This was a newly created position, the very first one of its kind.

Lviv, that great western Ukrainian city, was at that time located in the easternmost reaches of the Habsburg Empire’s province of Galicia. It was the seat of key institutions which spearheaded the Ukrainian cultural revival, the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, the Shevchenko Scientific Society, and also the Prosvita society, founded in 1868 and dedicated to spreading literacy and education in the Ukrainian language.

Lviv was about the only place where Ukrainian national aspirations could be publicly voiced at this time and Hrushevsky seized that chance. In 1897 he was elected president of the Shevchenko Scientific Society, and rebuilt it to function as a Ukrainian Academy of Sciences-in-exile, with popular and scholarly journals, a publishing house, a library, and a museum.

As a historian and ethnographer, Hrushevsky reconstructed the story of Ukraine’s past, most notably in his magisterial ten-volume History of Ukraine-Rus’, the first major synthesis of Ukrainian history. The first volume appeared in 1898, the final one was published posthumously, in 1937.  Hrushevsky summarized his key ideas in an article in 1904, “The Traditional Scheme of ‘Rus’ History and the Problem of a Rational Ordering of the History of the Eastern Slavs.” This seminal essay immediately ignited heated debates because Hrushevsky claimed what should have been obvious all along, that the Ukrainians, Belarusians and Russians had distinct identities and histories, which deserved separate historical treatments.

Early medieval kingdoms

The two principalities of Galicia and Volhynia made up the the westernmost part of the Kyivan Rus’ and were united in 1199 by Grand Prince Roman the Great of Kyiv (Source: Magosci’s Historical Atlas of Central Europe).

Hrushevsky firmly anchored Ukraine’s history in the West: He showed that the Kyivan Rus’, with its distinct political-administrative structure, socio-economic base, culture and laws, was the creation of southern tribes of the Eastern Slavs.  After the disintegration of the Kyivan Rus’, Hrushevsky looked to the southwest and identified a new center of political gravity there. He tied the history of Ukraine to the Principality of Galicia-Volhynia (1199-1253) and the Kingdom of Ruthenia (1253-1349) which emerged out of it. The center of the Ruthenian kingdom, ultimately conquered by Lithuanians and Poles, and absorbed by the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, survived relatively intact as the Ruthenian domain of the Polish Crown, it formed the Ruthenian Voivodeship. Hrushevsky thus tied the history of Ukraine (and likewise the history of Belarus) to the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, and not to the Tsarist autocracy.

Ukrainian People's Republic propaganda postcard
A postcard from the Ukrainian War of Independence (1917-1921) shows Ukrainian volunteers prepared to challenge the double-headed eagle of the Tsarist autocracy.

The unraveling of Tsarist power during the February Revolution, the first stage of the Russian Revolution in 1917, opened new possibilities. The Tsentralna Rada (Ukrainian Central Council) in Kyiv, the All-Ukrainian council (soviet) of the Ukrainian People’s Republic, elected Hrushevsky as chairperson. Under his direction, this body soon became the revolutionary parliament of Ukraine. Hrushevsky joined the newly formed Ukrainian Party of Socialist Revolutionaries, the majority party.  In June 1917, the Ukrainian People’s Republic declared its autonomy and was recognized by the Prime Minister of the Russian Provisional government, Alexander Kerensky. In January 1918, after the Bolsheviks took control in Russia, the Rada proclaimed Ukraine an independent and sovereign state. Three weeks later, the New York Times published excerpts from Hrushevsky’s “Ukraine’s Struggle for Self-Government” and introduced him as “one of the new republic’s most eminent men.” As a radical democrat Hrushevsky successfully opposed a Bolshevik takeover and in April 1918 he was elected president, after the Rada adopted a Ukrainian constitution. But Hrushevsky was soon overthrown in a coup d’état by conservative power brokers. The Ukrainian Bolsheviks decamped for Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city, and established a rival government there, the Ukrainian Soviet Republic, aided by the bayonets of the Red Army. In the end, the Ukrainian War of Independence (1917-1921) ended disastrously for Ukrainians, their country was divided by Poland and the new Bolshevik regime.

Map of Ukraine, showing the country' proposed borders. Prpared for the Paris Peace Conference at the end of World War I

Map of Ukraine, showing the country’ proposed borders. Prepared for the Paris Peace Conference at the end of World War I, 1918.

The Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic, also known as Soviet Ukraine, was one of the constituent republics of the Soviet Union. In 1923, its All-Ukrainian Academy of Sciences elected Hrushevsky as full member and he returned to Kyiv. He held the chair of Modern Ukrainian History and edited the journal Ukraïna from 1924 to 1930, the official publication of the historical section of the All-Ukrainian Academy of Sciences. By 1929, with the power of Stalinist operatives on the rise, attacks on Hrushevsky increased, for not adopting official Soviet Marxist interpretations. He was arrested in March 1931, subjected to constant surveillance, and forced to live in Moscow. Like many other Ukrainian intellectuals, most of his students and co-workers were arrested and repressed. Many subsequently died, murdered by the Stalinist regime.  Hrushevsky himself died in suspicious circumstances, after what should have been minor surgery, in 1934.

I thought of Klaus-Detlev Grothusen several times these last weeks, how his eyes lit up when he played music composed by Tchaikovsky, or when he read poetry from Taras Shevchenko’s Kobzar, one of the seminal works of Ukrainian literature. But I also remember Grothusen’s discussion of the Stalinist system. He quoted Stalin himself, who tried to legitimize his methods by saying darkly that “Russians need a tsar.”

Stalin and Putin share the belief that coercion and autocracy are essential tools in their tool chest. Ukraine, a country that was brutally repressed by Stalin, is now attacked by Putin who seems determined to liquidate its ­independence. Ukraine is a viable nation state, Europe’s second-largest country, with 44 million Ukrainian citizens.  Let’s all help to make sure Ukraine endures and flourishes.

Can you escape? Virtually reaching out to students through an online escape room

Why an escape room?

Covid-19 altered the lives of people across the world. For the UC Berkeley campus, the virus forced the university to close its doors to students in March of 2020 and almost all of its services went virtual overnight. Today, things on campus are returning to a new normal and students have eagerly returned to campus with instruction shifted to mostly in person. With the start of the new academic year, the Earth Sciences & Map Library staff wanted to welcome back students and remind them of our available library services and spaces. This year was the first time that nearly all of the incoming freshman and sophomore students would be on campus for the first time so the orientation needed to be extra special. Staff decided that one of the best ways to reach out was by creating a virtual library escape room. To incentivize student participation, a gift card drawing was added for contestants. In order to foster a connection between the physical library and students, the escape room used photographs of different locations in the Earth Sciences & Map Library for its background images.

Library reading room with desks, chairs, computers, and books. On one table there is a laptop. On the floor there is one shoe. On another table there are two walkie talkies, books, and a cassette tape. In the back of the room is a demogorgon.
Room #1 in the escape room showing the Reading Room at the Earth Sciences & Map Library


After a few meetings and discussions, the Earth Sciences & Map Library staff decided that they wanted the escape room to be focused on introducing undergraduate students to the library. Questions were geared towards undergraduates and they were the only contenders entered into the gift card drawing. However, in order to encourage camaraderie with departments in the same building housing the Earth Sciences & Map Library (McCone Hall), graduate students, faculty, and staff were encouraged to participate in the escape room’s simultaneous Battle of McCone competition. The friendly battle involved the two majors located in the McCone Hall building, Earth and Planetary Sciences and Geography. Whichever major had the highest number of players would be dubbed the winner of McCone Hall and receive all bragging rights.

Room with a large table, television, and globes shelved in the back wall. Large table with a game console, whistle, books, and gems. On the floor is a demogorgon.
Room #2 in the escape room showing the Seminar Room at the Earth Sciences & Map Library

The majority of undergraduate students are Generation Z and library staff wanted to pick a theme for the escape room that would be popular with this generation. They decided on using for their theme the show Stranger Things which is very popular with Gen Z. The script for the escape room started off with the story that the Earth Sciences & Map Library contained a portal to a horrible parallel dimension called the Upside Down Library. In the scenario, students accidentally entered the portal to the Upside Down Library and the only way to escape back to the Earth Sciences & Map Library was to solve all clues in all rooms.

The escape room actually consisted of three separate virtual rooms each containing two clues. The two clues could be found by clicking on an image in the virtual escape room which would then direct the students to a page on the Google Site detailing the clue. In total, students had to enter 6 clues in order to “escape” and make it safely back to the Earth Sciences & Map Library. Each of the clues were based on a resource available either through the greater UC Berkeley Library or at the Earth Sciences & Map Library. The whole escape room was created with a mix of Google products: Google Slides, Sites, and Forms. Google Sites served as the home base and structure for the escape room. Google Slides were used to create different “rooms.” The Students entered answers for the clues in the Google Form.

In order to increase accessibility the font for all text was set at 14 points Arial. Images were checked with the Google Chrome extension Colorblindly for issues that could be encountered by the visually impaired. Each image had ALT text added and content was structured with appropriate headers.

Room with chairs, sofas, and lamps. There are stacks that contain books and along the walls are framed maps. There is a pink scrunchie on a table. On another table there is a dice. Next to a chair is a red bike. In the back there is a demogorgon.
Room #3 in the escape room showing the Extra Seating at the Earth Sciences & Map Library


Promotion of the escape room started on the first day of classes August 25, 2021. Library staff emailed department emails, student groups, and outreach coordinators within the Earth & Planetary Sciences and Geography departments. In addition, they created flyers with short urls and QR codes to post around the library. The virtual escape room was open for roughly 2 weeks and had 63 undergraduate student participants. There was an overwhelming number of Geography students that completed the escape room with 54 undergraduate student players compared to only 9 Earth & Planetary Sciences undergraduate students. Later, staff learned that the reason for the large gap between the undergraduate students in the two majors was from an instructor who assigned the escape room to her class. This was a pleasant surprise!

At the conclusion of the escape room, three students were randomly selected as winners for the gift card drawing. In addition, winning students received a library tote bag. On the same day winners were notified of their gift card, all participants were sent an email survey to gauge their experience with the escape room.

Try it!

Reading about something is never the same as a hands-on experience. Now that you have read all about our virtual escape room try it out for yourself!

Design your own

While this library escape room was geared towards specific majors, the images and questions can be easily altered in order to create other escape room variations. If you have questions/comments about the escape room created by the Earth Sciences & Map Library please email

Much inspiration for this escape room came from the numerous libraries that have developed virtual escape rooms. In particular, the University of Toronto Engineering & Computer Science Library and the Cleveland State University virtual escape rooms energized the Earth Sciences & Map Library staff to create their own.

Other virtual escape rooms to motivate you:

Lines of Latitude: German Army Map of Spain 1:50,000 (1940-1944)

Beginning in 1936, a newly-formed German military mapping agency produced a large number of topographic map series covering all parts of Europe at various scales, as well as much of northern Africa and the Middle East.

This organization started out as a back room department of the German Army General Staff, focused on military contingency mapping. But, given the murderous goals of the Nazi regime, it quickly morphed into something else, a military mapping agency which provided planning tools for the Nazi leadership to wage a war of conquest, marked by atrocities and unspeakable crimes.

Berkeley’s Earth Sciences and Map Library owns 20,000 German topographic sheet maps produced by the German Army General Staff’s mapping agency, the Directorate for War Maps and Surveying [= Abteilung für Kriegskarten- und Vermessungswesen]. The Berkeley Library obtained this historically significant collection by participating in the World War II Captured Maps depository program of the U.S. Army Map Service.

A presentation by Wolfgang Scharfe, a geography professor at the Free University of Berlin, at the International Cartographic Conference in Durban in 2003, sheds light on the history of these military map series published by the Directorate for War Maps and Surveying. Scharfe looked at one particular topographic map series covering Spain, published in 2 editions between 1940 and 1944, Spanien 1:50 000.

German military cartographers mapped Spain at different scales. The Nazis saw Spanish dictator Francisco Franco’s fascist regime as an ally, but Franco wisely remained neutral during World War II. Initially, the German military mapping  of Spain can be seen as part of an effort to bring the Franco dictatorship into the Second World War as a German ally. One goal was the capture of the important British base at Gibraltar, at the entrance to the Mediterranean Sea.

Bay of Algeciras

The Bay of Gibraltar, also known as Gibraltar Bay and Bay of Algeciras, identified on the German sheet La Linea-Gibraltar as Bucht von Algeciras. It is located at the southern end of the Iberian Peninsula, near where the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea meet. The sheet is overprinted with the Spanish Lambert Grid, obtained by German military cartographers in an undercover intelligence operation.

The Berkeley Library set of the German Army Map of Spain 1:50,000 consists of 901 sheet maps, accompanied by 3 index maps. It includes two editions of many topographic sheets which cover specific areas of Spain. First Special edition [= Sonderausgabe] sheets were issued between 1940 and 1944, while the second Sonderausgabe sheets were chiefly issued in 1941.

The source map data for the German military maps came from a Spanish map series, the Mapa topográfico de España en escala de 1:50,000 issued by the Direccion general del Instituto Geográfico Catastral y de Estadı́stica.

Scharfe explains that map specialists of the Army Planning Chamber [= Heeresplankammer], the Berlin-based production platform of the Directorate for War Maps and Surveying, copied the Spanish map data. The first edition of this map series (895 published sheets) only contained the Spanish map data. The maps show drainage, roads and trails, railways, vegetation, and other physical and cultural features.

Sheets of the second edition (612 sheets), however, were overprinted with the Spanish Lambert Grid, a geodetic grid which would allow German troops to use the maps to accurately rain down middle and long-range artillery fire on precise locations.

Madrid sheet

Detail from the Madrid sheet of the German military topographic map series Spanien 1:50 000, published by the Directorate for War Maps and Surveying, a military mapping agency administratively subordinated to the German Army General Staff.

The German military cartographers were able to acquire this secret Spanish military grid data for their own sheets, before that data even appeared on Spanish military maps. This was the result of a German undercover intelligence operation. German agents were able to draw on contacts established when the Nazis aided the fascist Franco dictatorship during the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939) by sending German troops to Spain, the so-called Legion Condor.

But the story does not end there: Scharfe relates that in 1943, irregular Spanish soldiers raided a German Army depot in Nazi-occupied southern France. They removed sheets of the German Army Map of Spain 1:50,000 with the secret Spanish military grid data. Spanish officials started an official inquiry which undoubtedly further undermined trust between the fascist Franco regime and the Nazis. Spanish diplomatic demands for explanations registered in Berlin proved unsuccessful.