Keeping Holocaust History Alive

My first visit to the Arizona Jewish Historical Society was one I will never forget — which is precisely the mission of the organization’s new exhibit, “Stories of Survival: An Immersive Journey Through the Holocaust.” Phoenix is one of 12 locations worldwide to feature the two-part exhibit, which is rooted in technology to draw a younger population to the museum, featuring holocaust survivor and Scottsdale resident Oskar Knoblauch.

The Shoah Foundation’s, Dimensions in Testimony instillation features Knoblauch in a life-size 3D holographic that “comes alive” as he answers questions from visitors with his true story and the story of others who were affected by the Holocaust. The interactive display simulates an intimate “chat,” where dialog happens between museum guests and the holographic-like Knoblauch.

“We are humbled to preserve the stories of those who endured the horrific events that occurred during the Holocaust,” said Lawrence Bell, executive director of AZJHS. “Our hope is that Oskar’s story will live on to teach others about the power of our words and actions. This new exhibit is meant to inform and educate the public about the dangers of hate speech and the idea that any race, religion or background is above others.”

At age 97, Knoblauch was filmed and asked more than 2,000 questions translated by algorithms that analyze questions posed by museum guests. In turn, Knoblauch answers accordingly. The life-size holographic provides a platform for Knoblauch to share his experiences from the Holocaust with generations to come.

The second immersive and educational experience is a virtual walk-through of a concentration camp using VR. A 360-degree, virtual reality experience will captivate visitors during a powerful 16-minute film, “The Last Goodbye,” narrated by Pinchas Gutter, which takes viewers inside the Nazi concentration camp, Majdanek, in Poland.

The technology allows the AZJHS to archive memories of past events and never forget the stories and lessons shared by Holocaust survivors.

The new exhibit runs through Aug. 3, 2023. Admission is $5 for adults and free for full-time students, active military and AZJHS members.

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About Zenobia Mertel

Zenobia Mertel is Frontdoors Magazine’s Lifestyle Editor and covers a mix of Arts and Culture topics for the media company. She also works as an on-air host and columnist for Inspired Media 360, focusing on people, places, life and style.
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