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Groundbreaking Virtual Reality Exhibit Debuts on International Holocaust Remembrance Day

·4-min read

Holocaust Survivor Fritzie Fritzshall in the Women's Barracks at Auschwitz Birkenau

(Credit: Illinois Holocaust Museum/Winikur Productions)
(Credit: Illinois Holocaust Museum/Winikur Productions)
(Credit: Illinois Holocaust Museum/Winikur Productions)

Guests in The Journey Back: A VR Experience

(Credit: Scott Edwards)
(Credit: Scott Edwards)
(Credit: Scott Edwards)

Skokie, IL, Jan. 27, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The Journey Back: A VR Experience, a groundbreaking virtual reality exhibit transforming Holocaust education and remembrance, is now open to the public at Illinois Holocaust Museum & Education Center. Debuting on International Holocaust Remembrance Day, the exhibit features breakthrough technology that immerses visitors in intimate experiences with Holocaust Survivors.

A first-of-its kind visitor experience, The Journey Back applies cutting-edge virtual technology to engage visitors in present day and historic Auschwitz through two award-winning films narrated by Holocaust Survivors Fritzie Fritzshall and George Brent. The exhibit leverages a platform that resonates with current and future generations, utilizing 360-degree sound and video, interspersing contemporary footage and memory sequences to evoke empathy and inspire visitors to take action.

The participant controls their own 360-degree experience as they are placed inside the 3-D environment in an intimate, one-on-one setting. Survivors Fritzshall and Brent guide participants around the modern-day preserved concentration camps, sharing what they endured during the Holocaust.

“The participant does not just see and hear the Holocaust Survivors’ stories through a screen. Our VR technology transports the participants back to Holocaust sites today as they take a tour through one of the darkest chapters in history,” said Susan Abrams, CEO of Illinois Holocaust Museum. “Illinois Holocaust Museum is sharing this opportunity with local and worldwide visitors with the goals of inspiring empathy, of motivating action against hate, and of creating a world where ‘never again’ is a reality.”

In the two VR experiences, participants stand alongside Fritzshall and Brent as they powerfully and emotionally recount what happened to them during the Nazi regime:

  • A Promise Kept tells the gripping life story of 13-year-old Fritzie Fritzshall as she fulfills her promise to the 599 women who saved her life while imprisoned together. Regrettably, Fritzie passed away in June 2021 and never had the opportunity to see the exhibit reach its intended audiences.

  • Don’t Forget Me takes viewers on a journey back to Auschwitz, Mauthausen, and Ebensee concentration camps, revealing George Brent’s will to survive in the face of Nazi tyranny.

As the last generation of Holocaust Survivors age, The Journey Back archives their stories on a platform that will pass on their legacy and provides visitors with a powerful glimpse of history during an inhumane time.

“In both Fritzie and George’s films, there is an essential understanding that these stories need to be carried on,” said Abrams. “We need to learn all we can from Holocaust Survivors while they are still here. The knowledge we gain from their pasts influences our futures and informs the way we interact with the world. And there is truly no better way to learn than to virtually tour the Holocaust sites today with a Survivor to see them from their point of view.”

Both films have received global recognition and awards from a variety of prestigious film festivals including World Premiere at South by Southwest, Jury Award Winner at Nashville Film Festival, Winner of Best VR Storytelling at Cinequest Film and VR Festival, official selection at Vancouver International Film Festival, and many more.

In creating this VR experience, the Museum partnered with award-winning digital entertainment companies eyelash.ai and 30 Ninjas along with internationally recognized exhibition design firm Gallagher & Associates and award-winning documentary film producer Winikur Productions. The films feature an original soundtrack by Emmy Award-winner Silver Sound Studios.

About Illinois Holocaust Museum
About Illinois Holocaust Museum Illinois Holocaust Museum & Education Center honors the Survivors and victims of the Holocaust and transforms history into current, relevant, and universal lessons in humanity. Through world-class exhibitions and programs, the Museum inspires individuals and organizations and provides a universal wake-up call to action: Take history to heart. Take a stand for humanity. The Museum is open Wednesday through Sunday from 10a.m. through 5:00 p.m. and follows the city of Chicago's COVID-19 protocols. For more information, visit www.ilholocaustmuseum.org or call 847-967-4800.

Attachments

CONTACT: Illinois Holocaust Museum media@ilhmec.org


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