Holocaust was one of the most inhumane events in history in which approximately 6 million Jews were deliberately exterminated during World War II by the nazis. The Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland and its endless barracks in ruins, remain one of the world’s most painful memorial sites and serve as a living reminder of what evil can look like.
But as time passes, so do the Holocaust survivors — the voices of those who remember the atrocities are falling silent. The commemorative link between generations is dimming. Today, in a mostly digital world, it is important to restore the gap and keep younger generations interested in learning history.
To mark the 75th anniversary of its liberation we brought nine students from a Moscow high school — between 13 and 16 years old — to the Memorial in Poland to personally undergo this experience. After the trip, we asked them to express their reactions in VR animation under the creative guidance of Russia’s leading XR artist, Denis Semionov.
“Lessons of Auschwitz” is a social experiment that aims to show how history can be retold and reimagined by younger generations through digital art. Using innovative XR film technology we aimed to create a new kind of commemorative tribute which will engage and touch younger viewers and inspire them to learn more about the Holocaust.
The project unites history, teenagers’ personal emotions, the lament of a theremin and innovative immersive tech to create powerful, moving digital art that sustains historical memory in a digital world.
A comprehensive multi-stage six-month production lies behind the creation of this unique VR experience. In stage one, we decided to teach 9 school students, who would eventually go to Poland and become prime-creators of this tribute, some historical background.
Thanks to the Moscow Jewish Museum and Tolerance Center, the students learned about the Holocaust during a private tour. We subsequently organized a screening of Spielberg’s ‘Schindler's List’ for our young travelers. The remaining Schindler factory in Krakow would later become the first museum they would visit during their trip to Poland.
The 2D video was filmed in VR using Volumetric technology and Audio Reactive Tilt Brush in association with Russia’s leading XR-artist Denis Semionov & award-winning XR production studio Phygitalism. The students used Tilt Brush to draw their 3D images and were filmed with volumetric video — a technique capturing three-dimensional space, allowing the images to be transformed directly into 3D where they would later react to soundwaves. DepthKit tool and Kinect Azure were used during the production.
We teamed up with composer Peter Theremin, who plays the world's oldest electronic instrument patented by his great grandfather, Léon Theremin, which is played and controlled without physical contact by the performer. Peter composed an original score for the film — an eerie lament in which the sonorous vibrations of the theremin create a weeping effect and a striking tune.