VR Tour Offers Intimate Look Inside Frank’s Amsterdam Shelter
On Tuesday June 12th, the new VR experience Anne Frank House VR was released to honor the memory of Anne Frank, the revered German-born girl who was one of millions of European Jews murdered by the Nazis in the Holocaust and whose writing in The Diary of a Young Girl was discovered and published after her death to become one of the Holocaust’s most moving and haunting accounts.
Frank, who died in Nazi captivity at the Bergen-Belsen concentration at age 15 in 1945, would have turned 89 on Tuesday. From 1942 onward, Frank was kept sheltered in the “Secret Annex,” a hidden partition of a house in Amsterdam where the Franks and another Jewish family, the van Pels, lived in secret with the assistance of sympathetic Dutch helpers until their betrayal and capture by the Nazis in 1944.
Anne Frank House VR allows users the world over to experience in intimate detail a virtual tour of the house where Anne Frank spent her final years with her family and composed her diary, allowing for an unprecedented peek into the location as it appeared during her life.
Developed in cooperation with Force Field VR and Oculus VR, the Anne Frank House museum released Anne Frank House VR as a free download available on the Oculus Store and compatible with the Samsung Gear VR and recently released Oculus Go headsets.
While the Secret Annex at the Anne Frank House remains empty, the VR tour shows a faithful re-creation of how the space looked when the Franks and van Pels lived inside. Nazi soldiers tossed the hiding place, stole and destroyed most of its contents in a raid and it remains empty to this day, in keeping with the wishes of Anne Frank’s father and the only one of the Secret Annex’s eight inhabitants to survive Nazi execution, Otto Frank.
With the release of Anne Frank House VR, however, the video recreates the Secret Annex in lifelike detail following painstaking research, portraying the rooms as accurately as possible down to Anne Frank’s cluttered desk bearing the diary in which the young girl shared her hopes and fears during hiding.
Accompanied by a multimedia presentation on the Anne Frank’s life and her time in the Secret Annex, the tour takes about 25 minutes, and offers multi-lingual support for users in Dutch, English, German, French, Spanish, Portuguese and Hebrew.
According to Ronald Leopold, executive director of the Anne Frank House:
“The VR tour gives people all around the world the opportunity to explore Anne Frank’s hiding place as it was in July 1942 to August 1944, the period when Anne Frank was forced into hiding and wrote her diary. The tour offers an immersive experience. Our heartfelt thanks go out to Force Field VR, which developed the tour, and to Oculus, which helped to finance the project.”
According to the Anne Frank House, the VR tour will be installed as an exhibit at the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam, offering the virtual tour on-site to visitors with limited mobility or those wishing to see the Secret Annex as it was during Anne Frank’s life. The virtual experience is also offered on location at the Anne Frank Zentrum in Berlin and the Anne Frank Center for Mutual Respect in New York later this year.