The Israelites in Nazi Hunting Groups would have loved this technology when hunting down Nazi German criminals had virtual reality been around in the 1950’s and 60’s. More than 70 years have passed since the last prisoners at the infamous Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration and extermination camp were liberated, but still, not all Nazi Germans or their collaborators that were part of the atrocities of the Holocaust have been brought to justice. However, thanks to advances in virtual reality technology, German experts have now found a way to prosecute even very old war criminals. A 3D model for virtual reality that can be walked through was created by LKA digital imaging expert Ralf Breker. This VR model is considered the most exacting representation of the camp to date. It is even much more precise than Google Earth. Since the most modern VR goggles on the market are used, when a viewer zooms in they can see even the smallest details.
Thanks to this virtual reality model, German investigators, prosecutors and other experts can now digitally walk through Hitler’s Auschwitz-Birkenau special gassing extermination camp where more than 1.1 million Jews alone were murdered through the course of World War II. When walking through the VR representation, anyone can “see” if the war criminal being prosecuted is telling the truth or not. When exploring the VR model of Auschwitz, officials wear special goggles that allow them to walk through the camp as if they themselves are members of the German SS (Schutzstaffel or “Protection Echelon”), and thus, being able to see the landscape through the eyes of a criminal. The VR model can be used in trials to counter the objections of suspects who claim that they did not witness executions or marches to gas chambers from their vantage point.
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Many suspects for Holocaust war crimes have in the past used the defense of not really knowing what was going on in the death camps. This new VR model provides a new way to examine otherwise. The model is a good and modern tool for the investigation because it can answer the question of where the suspect was while the killings in Auschwitz were going on. Just this year, this virtual technology helped to convict former SS guard, Reinhold Hanning, to five years imprisonment for being complicit in the mass murder of 170,000 people in Auschwitz. According to Reinhold, he was assigned mostly in machine shops and a fence area watchtower and views to other parts of the camp was blocked by a few trees. It turns out that the machine shop windows only had a single tree that was to the side and faced an area where regular executions were taking place. Also, the view from the alleged watchtower that Reinhold was assigned to had a clear overview of the execution area and assembly area where prisoners were gathered to be marched off to the gas ovens disguised as shower rooms.