Virtual reality is the latest tool being used to address the tragedy of the Holocaust.
From now until Mar. 4, 2017, the general public can bear witness to one aspect of Jewish persecution in Germany under Adolf Hitler.
From 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. Mon. – Fri. (till 9 p.m. Tue.) and 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. Sat. & Sun. at the Mennonite Heritage Centre Gallery, Canadian Mennonite University, 600 Shaftsbury Blvd., visitors can experience one aspect of Jewish culture that was destroyed, namely synagogues.
Dr. Stephan Jaeger, Dept. of German & Slavic Studies and Dr. Adam Muller, Dept. of English, Film & Theatre, University of Manitoba, teamed to bring the Canadian premiere of this important historical reminder to Winnipeg.
“Public response has been excellent,” Dr. Jaeger reports.
“Visitors are finding the exhibition timely and sobering while also being stunned by the immense beauty of the reconstructions, which also intensifies the loss.”
Raphael Lemkin writes, “Physical and biological genocide are always preceded by cultural genocide.” (Memorandum on the Genocide Convention)
Dr. Jaeger noted that in hearing feedback, Donald Trump’s immigration ban was mentioned often and that “it is important to take cultural destruction seriously.”
For Holocaust skeptics and deniers I am reminded of the following: Gaslighting is a form of manipulation that seeks to sow seeds of doubt in a targeted individual or members of a group, hoping to make targets question their own memory, perception, and sanity. The term originated with Gas Light, a 1938 play and 1944 film.
“There has been a strong reaction to how important this exhibition is to Holocaust survivors, the survivor generations and the Jewish community in general,” says Stephan Jaeger.
For students, this creates a memorable experience rather than just reading about it.
There are videos, two movies, panels, and public lectures all at no cost, thanks in part to support from the Freeman Family Foundation Holocaust Education Centre.
Outraged by the 1994 bombing of a Lubeck synagogue, students at Darmstadt Technical University began a twenty year project of architectural research. Scholars have created 3D reconstructions of 25 of the 1400 synagogues destroyed by the Third Reich.
Visitors can explore the reconstruction design process at computer workstations and put the pieces together from what is known as the Night of Broken Glass when 267 synagogues were destroyed.
For Dr. Jaeger this undertaking was personally rewarding not only for the public service it provided but as inspiration for him, his colleagues and students in preparation for a research symposium on Cultural Genocide and Comparative Perspectives in Indigenous and Holocaust Studies.
For more info, send email to Synagogues.Germany@umanitoba.ca