I recently had the opportunity to visit the Holocaust Museum in Washington, DC. It was an enlightening experience and my 10 year-old daughter is now reading the diary of Anne Frank. Nevertheless, as I explained yesterday in this post on visual unlearning, often if data can be presented in a new way it can lead to new insights.
To this end, although I consider myself generally well read about world history and in spite of the fact that I had just visited the Holocaust Museum when I saw this chart (posted to the left) visualizing the data from which countries the murdered Jews came from, I was very surprised. For years, I had incorrectly assumed the largest number came from Germany. Moreover, it was not just that I was wrong by a little, I was way off. (Although the chart is a difficult to read, the giant purple circle represents Poland — and 3.1 million murdered Jews. The light blue circle is the former Soviet Union and another 1.5 million deaths.)
It was just another reminder that I must constantly challenge my assumptions and occasionally engage in some situational unawareness training.
P.S. I originally wrote this piece before the death of Poland's president, Lech Kaczynski and 95 other Polish patriots in a plane crash in Russia. My heartfelt condolences to the people of Poland. It is yet another heart-breaking tragedy — in a long line of them.