The virtual tour of Anne Frank’s home offers a new way to teach about the Holocaust

The Arizona Jewish Historical Society is launching a new interactive activity as part of its exhibition, Stories of Survival: An Immersive Journey Through the Holocaust.

It uses virtual reality to guide visitors through the Dutch home of Anne Frank, the young girl whose life is chronicled in the diary she kept from the age of 13 until her assassination by the Nazis at the age of 16 family hid from the Nazis for more than two years, guests and students can experience first-hand what it was like to live in hiding during the Holocaust.

As part of the exhibit preview, the Jewish Historical Society hosted a talk in February with guest speaker Andrew Schot, a Holocaust survivor now based in Tucson.

Schot lived across from the Frank family before the outbreak of World War II and even went to school with Anne and her sister Margot. When the Germans invaded the Netherlands in 1940 and the Franks went into hiding, Schot recalled seeing Miep Gies, the girlfriend who essentially kept the Franks alive while they went into hiding, making her way to and from the house . Schot said bringing the history of the Holocaust to the present era through technology will give people, especially students who are just beginning to learn about the Holocaust, a better understanding of the events.

“The use of technology makes it so much easier. It would take three or four hours to report in minutes about what they’re doing here,” Schot said.

By using new teaching methods, educators are finding it easier to connect with a generation of students who grew up using the Internet. The new virtual reality exhibition transports them to another time and allows them to virtually experience first-hand the events they are seeing.

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Anne Frank is used as an example in classrooms around the world to educate young students about the Holocaust and what Jewish people went through during World War II. Frank was a symbol of a younger generation learning about the Holocaust, as research shows significant gaps in knowledge about the Holocaust and the nearly 6 million Jewish people killed. Frank’s journal is written from her point of view, and the Jewish Historical Society’s exhibit allows visitors to catch a glimpse of the war through her eyes.

“When I stand in front of a group of kids, eighth or ninth graders, and tell them I went to school with Anne Frank, I get their attention,” Schot said. “It’s the experience of someone her age, not just any old person.”

Holocaust education in Arizona has attracted more attention in recent years, with Arizona law being signed into law by the government at the time. Doug Ducey in 2021, which requires public schools to teach students between seventh and twelfth grades at least twice about the Holocaust and other genocides.

Lawrence Bell, executive director of the Arizona Jewish Historical Society, said history can repeat itself and the only way to prevent future genocide is to educate the next generation about the Holocaust and its creation so they can make sure it never happens happens again.

“A big part of why we’re doing this is to educate young people, especially those who probably don’t have much prior knowledge about World War II or the Holocaust – to take this new generation of people in and make them aware of what.” happened,” Bell said, noting that several schools come through the museum each week.

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The museum’s Stories of Survival exhibit features testimonies from four Arizona Holocaust survivors through media such as an interactive hologram — and, as of this week, virtual reality. The exhibition runs until the end of the year.

There was another virtual reality tour offered by the Jewish Historical Society in the past that showed a concentration camp, but the Anne Frank House Tour is the first interactive virtual exhibit where visitors can open doors and choose where they want to go in the house .

The virtual reality exhibit opens to the public on Monday and is a free experience included with the museum’s $5 admission fee. Students, military and museum members have free admission.