US Holocaust Memorial Museum

Jacqueline Hansen

Kristallnacht,1938 Pogroms Exhibit
US Holocaust Memorial Museum is one of the wonderful opportunities available through Second Life participation. This allows educators and students to take field trips to a place that otherwise would not be available to all. “Witnessing History Kristallnacht, The 1938 Pogroms” is an exhibit available within the Holocaust Memorial Museum. The virtual exhibit allows your avatar to walk through the town entering different buildings like a police station and a news room. As you walk to the different buildings you observe the streets filled with violent anti-Jewish newspaper postings around you. The virtual exhibit allows you to experience the history of this era in a very meaningful way. It resonates with you differently from textbook reading.


The holocaust museum is set up to get visitors participating in the role of a journalist. During the visit, the participant visits and investigates stories about victims of the Holocaust. While walking through the vandalized town, investigators get a virtual glance into some of the crimes against humanity that occured during this period. Participants are encouraged to view some of the real photos and informational documents and put together some of the individual stories of the victims. For example, one of the people that participants learn about is Selma Zwienicki, information about her is in both the police station and the destroyed home. By piecing information together, the participant is able to get a better understanding of the victims and this style of informing engages the participant.
This experience has tremendous value in the educational setting. It is important for students to identify with others during historic events such as the Holocaust in order to learn to empathize with others. The walk through this historic time gives the participant a chance to sense some of the horrific treatments fellow man can give to another. The photos during this investigation help add to the feeling that these victims experienced. In my view this museum represents some of the potential that Second Life has on enriching student experience.

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The U.S. Memorial Holocaust Museum is one of the most incredible sites I have been to in Second Life. I am currently teaching the book Night by Elie Wiesel, so I was immediately drawn to this site and the opportunities it serves for students. I have to admit, walking through this Holocaust site was a little disturbing at times. As soon as you arrive, you have the chance to walk immediately into one of the museum rooms. It is completely black and white inside, except for when you touch items on the wall and a yellow manila envelope appears on one of the desks, acting as an "assignment" for you to partake in. My avatar was able to walk through the walls and immediately into a reenactment of a Jewish ghetto. I immediately thought of my students and how enriching this would be for them to experience. I walked into one of the small buildings of the ghetto, into something that resembled someone's room. It looked like a tornado had hit it - there were overturned bookshelves, clothes thrown all over the place, and blood on the floor. I could not believe what I was seeing. But then again, learning about the holocaust is an extremely shocking experience. In this same bedroom were framed pictures of Jewish children and families. It was very sad. After visiting this room in the ghetto, I walked inside a classroom. There was information on the wall about Jewish children being expelled from German schools. In the corner of the classroom was an overturned desk with blood on the floor. Walking through this site in Second Life was a gloomy yet incredible experience. Although there was blood and many disturbing images, this would be an excellent supplement when teaching students, (especially in high school), about the Holocaust.

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Christen Hashim

The U.S. Memorial Holocaust Museum was incredibly surreal, informative experience. I was so surprised to see the vivid features and shocking environment. For example the actual streets were covered with graffiti, broken glass, and blood. When I clicked on the graffiti on the buildings the words were translated in English so people could understand what was written. When I first walked into the museum, bulletin boards were posted everywhere with background information describing the Holocaust. I believe this virtual environment was created to inform and educate avatars through imagines and notecards. The notecards were so helpful and truly explained actual events and times during the Holocaust. Below is one notecard I collected on my journey.

After Kristallnacht, life was extremely difficult for German and Austrian Jewish children and teenagers. Already barred from entering museums, public playgrounds, and swimming pools, now Jewish schools were closed and those Jewish children still attending German public schools were expelled. Jewish youngsters, like their parents, were totally segregated in Germany. In despair, many Jewish adults committed suicide. Most families tried desperately to leave Germany.

The classroom in the U.S. Memorial Holocaust Museum was so interesting. I spent a majority of my time reading bulletin boards, looking at maps and viewing presentations about the Holocaust. I can honestly say I learned so much about the Holocaust through this virtual environment. I can see how educational this experience could be for students. Pictures on walls told biographies and personal stories of people who lived through this indescribable experience.

Andrea Sanchez

Also within the site visitors are able to walk into rooms and feel as though they are witnessing the events. Our group was able to visit many interesting areas including the classroom, police station, and even a hide-out space. The hide-out spaced featured a tiny room were Jews were forced to live in so they could be safe from capture. Within that space there were pictures along the wall where visitors could learn about their stories. It was really impacting for our group to be able to learn more about how the Jews were forced to live at this time. Also, reading about the personal stories really makes it real for the visitors and they are able to put themselves in these individual’s shoes and see what they had to endure.

This site could be a wonderful tool for teachers. They experience makes the learning real for the students. I would recommend teachers use this site as a supplemental instruction tool when teaching students about the Holocaust.
N. Fanning, V. Bass, L. Sanchez
N. Vanning, V. Bass, L. Sanchez

N. Fanning, V. Bass, L. Sanchez