The mathematicians of Geislingen

Apr 27, 2018

I’m working on the texts for the voice-over. These texts allow me to explain some facts and figures which are not mentioned in the interviews. But there are many facts and an incredible number of figures. Everything was counted and accounted for. Starting with the number of inhabitants.

When the war had ended there were 6 small refugee camps in Geislingen: four Polish, one Yugoslav and one Baltic. The people living in the camps had been forced to work in a factory that was located in Geislingen. 120 Estonians stayed in the Baltic camp.

At that time, in the summer of 1945, it was not clear how the camps would be organised. Yugoslavs, Russians, Poles, they were all sent back rather quickly to their home countries; whether they wanted to or not. Some Latvians and Estonians were moved to other camps.

Probably the Estonians returned soon when Geislingen was turned into an Assembly Centre for Estonians in the American Zone. And many more came. Far too many. There was a shortage of houses and available rooms. So in March 1946 some 400 people were sent to a camp in Dornstadt.

The remaining people had to be regrouped which was quite a task. But already in April the people who had been moved to Dornstadt were brought back, as well as 300 people from other camps. The regrouping and dividing of rooms started again.  

The number of rooms, square meters, how many people fitted in each room was known. The quota was  4 square metres for each person. For some time people went out, more came in, counting and recounting.

But the numbers of people, square metres and available beds were just a start. Then all other things needed to be recounted and divided: the amount of bread, potatoes, wood, cigarettes, toothbrushes, soap, toilet paper, razor blades, chocolate…  A never-ending task.