NYC Museum of Jewish Heritage opens Auschwitz virtual reality tour

The tour includes overhead footage shot by drones that reveals the size and scale of the camp, which is hard to comprehend during on-the-ground tours.

By Shiryn Ghermezian, The Algemeiner

New York City’s Museum of Jewish Heritage — A Living Memorial to the Holocaust will debut on Sunday a new experience that will allow visitors to take a virtual reality tour of the Auschwitz concentration camp.

With the use of VR technology, including VR headsets, visitors will get a firsthand perspective of Auschwitz through a 48-minute immersive and educational tour narrated by Rabbi Yisrael Goldwasser, an internationally acclaimed speaker on the topic of the Holocaust.

The VR experience was developed by the New York City-based nonprofit organization Spirit of Triumph. In 2020, two Orthodox women in Israel wanted to make a VR tour of Auschwitz, but the former Nazi concentration camp had never permitted the kind of access they needed to create the VR experience. The COVID-19 pandemic made the Auschwitz site available for filming.

“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,” Jack Kliger, president and CEO of the museum, told The Algemeiner.

“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.

“The stoic barracks of Auschwitz remain our enduring eyewitnesses.”

More than 1.1 million European Jews were murdered in the notorious concentration camp as part of the Nazis’ “Final Solution” between 1941 and 1945.

For those who have never been able to visit the site of the former Nazi camp in person, the VR tour offers them an opportunity to see nearly every area of the site.

The tour includes overhead footage shot by drones that reveals the size and scale of the camp, which is hard to comprehend during on-the-ground tours.

The VR tour “is designed to foster critical conversation and inspire in its audience empathy and a commitment to combat hatred,” the museum said in announcing the initiative.

“VR technology offers an opportunity to promote a profound understanding that transcends traditional classroom learning by transporting those who experience it beyond the confines of their four walls.”

“Participants will be able to explore the haunting landscapes and barracks, fostering empathy and a deeper understanding of the Holocaust,” the museum added.

Watch a trailer for the VR tour below.

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