Visiting Holocaust Survivors in the Past Using Virtual Reality - VR Life

The Illinois Holocaust Museum

holocaust vr


A few weeks ago, NPQ detailed a report of Amnesty International’s virtual reality reporting of a neighborhood in Syria demolished by bombs. In that, there was nobody testifying to the gruesome effects but they could be vividly imagined.


“The Illinois Holocaust Museum & Education Center will be the first in the world to use cutting edge, holographic technology to enable visitors to ask questions of Holocaust survivors—long after the survivors have passed away,” reports Howard Reich at the Chicago Tribune.

Do You Know Of The Holocaust?

According to a recent poll of more than 53,000 people from all over the world by the Anti-Defamation League, a total of 54 percent of these respondents had never even heard of the Holocaust and about a third of those who have heard of it actually think that the scope has been exaggerated or that perhaps it’s a myth. And then there is the bizarre and terrible world of Holocaust denial.

Holocaust Museum

The Holocaust Museum

This Museum is bold with its impassioned new work, in the wake of its harrowing subject. The meaning of its core message really improves upon the ancient traditions of oral history. When it becomes fully operational in 2017, the survivor stories theater will give visitors an avenue to ask questions and engage with the three dimensional hologram like image of a Holocaust survivor.


The museum embraced what started as a pilot project of the USC Shoah Foundation in Los Angeles and the process entailed 12 survivors answering some 800 custom questions before a series of 50 plus cameras.

Holocaust Museum

In a culture of massive enterprise and growth, you have to wonder whether this technology in the hands of others will be more of a curse than a blessing. As the use of this technology and the emerging disruptive technologies become mainstream and diverse, will these stories of the Shoah delivered by a hologram become passé? Every cause longs for ways to inspire empathy for its people. Returning from refugee camps in the middle east and east Africa, Bono wrote in his April 2016 New York Times op-ed “For as hard as it is to truly imagine what life as a refugee is like, we have a chance to reimagine that reality—and reinvent our relationship with the people and countries consumed now by conflict, or hosting those who have fled it.”

Holocaust Museum

“The Illinois Holocaust Museum & Education Center is hallowed ground. The stories there are sacred treasures. Like most true treasures, they are buried, but not for those with the heart to seek, to understand, and to heed. As many of us try to figure out how to live our lives—what values and beliefs to uphold, what actions to pursue—these twelve unpretentious sentinels keeping watch over life-giving memories wait for us. If we choose to seek their counsel, they will help focus our minds, enlarge our hearts, and stir our souls with the wisdom that no form of entertainment can reveal. Their wisdom must be received on their terms in order to understand it, in truth and solidarity with those who suffer. These twelve witnesses wait for you”.—Jim Schaffe

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