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New VR Experience at NYC’s Museum of Jewish Heritage Offers Immersive Tour of Auschwitz

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New VR Experience at NYC’s Museum of Jewish Heritage Offers Immersive Tour of Auschwitz

Edited by: Fern Sidman

New York City’s Museum of Jewish Heritage — A Living Memorial to the Holocaust is set to unveil a groundbreaking virtual reality (VR) experience that will allow visitors to virtually tour the Auschwitz concentration camp. According to recently published report on TheAlgemeiner.com web site, this innovative initiative aims to provide an immersive, educational perspective on one of history’s darkest chapters, ensuring that the memories and lessons of the Holocaust remain accessible to future generations.

Starting Sunday, visitors to the museum will have the opportunity to don VR headsets and embark on a 48-minute guided tour of Auschwitz. The tour is narrated by Rabbi Yisrael Goldwasser, an internationally recognized speaker on the Holocaust. According to The Algemeiner report, through VR technology, participants will gain a firsthand perspective of the camp, moving through its infamous gates, barracks, and grounds as if they were there in person.

The VR experience was developed by Spirit of Triumph, a New York City-based nonprofit organization. The idea originated in 2020 when two Orthodox women in Israel sought to create a VR tour of Auschwitz. The Algemeiner report indicated that initially, the former Nazi concentration camp had not permitted the necessary access for such a project. However, the COVID-19 pandemic, which temporarily closed the site to visitors, provided a unique opportunity to film and develop the VR experience.

Jack Kliger, president and CEO of the Museum of Jewish Heritage, emphasized the profound impact of this new VR tour. “What has been preserved of the Auschwitz death camp is the ultimate historic artifact. To visit the camp in person, or to explore it now through this extraordinary VR technology, is a deeply moving experience,” Kliger told The Algemeiner. He highlighted the importance of engaging with Holocaust history, particularly as the number of living survivors dwindles. “As the Holocaust recedes farther with each year, and as we lose our last generation of living survivors, we must explore new means to engage with this history and firsthand testimony,” he added, when speaking with The Algemeiner.

The museum announced that the VR tour is “designed to foster critical conversation and inspire in its audience empathy and a commitment to combat hatred,” The Algemeiner report said. By providing a virtual exploration of Auschwitz, the museum seeks to transcend traditional classroom learning and transport participants beyond the confines of their immediate environment.

The use of VR technology in Holocaust education represents a significant advancement in how historical experiences can be shared and preserved. Traditional methods of teaching and memorializing the Holocaust rely heavily on physical visits to sites like Auschwitz, survivor testimonies, and historical documentation, The Algemeiner report added. However, with the passage of time and the gradual loss of survivors, it becomes increasingly challenging to convey the emotional and historical weight of these experiences.

The VR tour of Auschwitz allows participants to engage with the site in a highly personal and impactful way. The stoic barracks of Auschwitz, as Kliger noted, serve as enduring witnesses to the atrocities committed there, according to The Algemeiner report. Through VR, these silent structures can now “speak” to new generations, providing an immersive context that static photos and text cannot.

The museum believes that VR technology offers an unparalleled opportunity to promote a profound understanding that goes beyond traditional educational methods. “Participants will be able to explore the haunting landscapes and barracks, fostering empathy and a deeper understanding of the Holocaust,” the museum noted, as was reported by The Algemeiner.

One of the standout features of the tour is the overhead footage captured by drones. The Algemeiner report indicated that this aerial view reveals the sheer size and scale of Auschwitz, something that is often difficult to fully grasp during an in-person visit. The expansive layout, the vast number of barracks, and the meticulous organization of the camp become starkly evident through this bird’s-eye perspective.

The VR experience is designed to be both educational and emotionally resonant. By placing participants in the midst of Auschwitz, the objective of the tour is to foster a deeper understanding of the Holocaust’s scale and the personal stories of those who suffered there. The Algemeiner report noted that Rabbi Yisrael Goldwasser’s narration adds an authoritative and compassionate voice, guiding visitors through the camp’s harrowing history. Rabbi Goldwasser is an internationally acclaimed speaker on the Holocaust,

Between 1941 and 1945, over 1.1 million European Jews were systematically murdered at Auschwitz as part of the Nazis’ “Final Solution.” The concentration camp, notorious for its brutal efficiency and unimaginable cruelty, stands as one of history’s darkest symbols of human suffering and genocide.

This initiative also reflects a broader trend in museums and educational institutions seeking to incorporate advanced technologies to enhance visitor engagement. By leveraging VR, the Museum of Jewish Heritage is not only preserving the memory of the Holocaust but also innovating how this critical history is conveyed to the public.

As the Museum of Jewish Heritage debuts this VR tour, it sets a precedent for how historical sites and museums might utilize technology to keep history alive. The success of this project could inspire similar initiatives worldwide, ensuring that the lessons of the Holocaust, and other significant historical events, remain vivid and impactful for future generations.

 

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