A group made up of the Claims Conference, USC Shoah Foundation, Meta, UNESCO, and the World Jewish Congress is starting a new collaboration to create a virtual reality (VR) project. The goal of this project is to teach young people about the terrible experiences that Jews went through during the Holocaust. This VR experience will take users back in time to witness the frightening events of Kristallnacht, an important moment in the increasing persecution of Jews.
Kristallnacht, also known as the “Night of Broken Glass,” happened on November 9, 1938. During this time, the Nazis carried out a wave of violence against Jewish communities. Synagogues were set on fire, Jewish businesses were vandalized, and thousands of Jewish men were arrested and sent to concentration camps. Charlotte Knobloch, a Holocaust survivor who saw the synagogues of Munich burning, believes it is crucial to teach younger generations about the terrible things the Nazis did. She wants to make sure that these horrors are never forgotten or repeated.
The VR project is set to be released in 2024. It will give users a fully immersive experience, allowing them to journey with Knobloch as she tells her personal story of the pogroms during Kristallnacht. The interactive nature of the project will let users explore Knobloch’s childhood neighborhood in Munich, giving them a unique understanding of the fear and devastation that Jews experienced at that time.
Gideon Taylor, the president of the Claims Conference, presented the project and emphasized its importance in fighting the increasing antisemitism. Germany, in particular, has seen a rise in discrimination and violence against Jews in recent years. Many Jews live in fear and hide their identities in public. The immersive VR experience aims to shed light on this dark part of history and confront the ongoing hatred that exists today.
To make sure the project is accurate and authentic, it includes video footage of Knobloch walking through her childhood neighborhood. This footage has been carefully reconstructed using archival materials. The attention to detail allows users to see for themselves the destruction caused by the Nazis and gain a deeper understanding of how Jews were affected at that time.
Knobloch’s collaboration with the Claims Conference brings her personal experiences to life in a way that goes beyond traditional educational methods like textbooks and documentaries. Through her testimony and the immersive VR experience, a new generation will have the chance to understand the victims and the horrors of the Holocaust.
The VR project also aims to address the growing antisemitism in Germany, especially after recent events in Israel and Gaza. Jews have reported being bullied and discriminated against in schools and universities. This shows the urgent need for education and awareness about the consequences of hatred and prejudice.
By combining advanced technology with Holocaust education, this collaboration hopes to make a lasting impact on society. VR’s immersive nature has the potential to engage and educate in ways that traditional methods can’t. It fosters empathy and understanding for a dark part of history that must never be forgotten.
As the world continues to deal with the wounds of the past, innovative projects like this VR experience remind us of the importance of learning from history and standing together against hate. Through immersive storytelling, the virtual reality project aims to make sure that the voices of Holocaust survivors like Charlotte Knobloch are heard, their stories remembered, and the lessons they taught us are never forgotten. In a time where technology can transport us to different worlds, it’s inspiring to see it being used to educate and build a more caring and inclusive future.