Skokie, IL – Jan. 27, 2022 –The Journey Back: A VR Experience groundbreaking virtual reality experience transforming Holocaust education and remembrance is now open to the public at Illinois Holocaust Museum. Debuting on International Holocaust Remembrance Day, The Journey Back features breakthrough technology that immerses visitors in an intimate experience with Holocaust Survivors.
The Journey Back includes two award-winning films featuring Holocaust Survivors George Brent and the late Fritzie Fritzshall. Through 360-degree sound and audio with interspersing contemporary footage and memory sequences, the virtual reality exhibit transports visitors to both present-day and historic Auschwitz, Mauthausen, and Ebensee concentration camps. The visitor is guided by life-size projections of George and Fritzie as they recount their stories and the individuals who helped them survive.
The exhibit is situated beneath the train tracks that lead to the Museum’s German-period railcar, one similar to those that transported so many Jews to Auschwitz. Visitors can see the exposed tracks above them as they enter the Richard and Jill Chaifetz Family Virtual Reality Gallery, put on their headsets and prepare to take the journey back to one of the darkest times in human history.
“This impactful, powerful and emotional experience is the first of its kind. The experience sticks with visitors much longer than a typical Museum exhibit,” said Susan Abrams, CEO of Illinois Holocaust Museum. “Through cutting-edge technology, visitors are immersed in the sites where these atrocities took place and experience the moment standing next to a Survivor. It creates a new level of understanding of the realities of the Holocaust.”
At 92 years old, George Brent is still sharing his story, helping to ensure the world does not forget. As the last generation of Survivors age, the future-proof virtual reality technology will preserve their personal stories for generations to come. Though Fritzie passed away in June 2021, her story lives on.
Visitors can experience The Journey Back at Illinois Holocaust Museum by reserving a timeslot in advance at www.ilholocaustmuseum.org/ticketing. The exhibit is complimentary with Museum admission.
The Journey Back is currently only available to experience at Illinois Holocaust Museum, but the Museum intends to scale the technology and bring the exhibit to institutions across the country and around the world.
“Nothing makes more of an impact than a first-hand account of these horrors,” says Kelley Szany, VP of Education and Exhibitions at Illinois Holocaust Museum. “We are constantly searching for innovative and new ways of preserving these stories so that people can learn from Survivors for years into the future, curating the best and most impactful ways to communicate the realities of the Holocaust.”
Abrams added: “With prevalent misinformation surrounding the Holocaust and the dwindling number of Survivors, this mission takes on ever greater importance. That’s why Illinois Holocaust Museum is spearheading the use of innovative technology to connect the past to the present and tell the stories of the Holocaust in the most impactful ways.”
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.