On June 6, 1944, Allied forces invaded France, the first step in what would eventually lead to victory over the Nazis in Europe.
About 475 miles away, in a hidden annex atop an Amsterdam canal house, 13-year-old Anne Frank listened to radio reports about D-Day on the radio and wondered if she and her family might soon be free. Alas, as history tells us, she was not able to escape her eventual tragic fate. And starting in 1960, visitors to Amsterdam have been able to explore what’s become known as the Anne Frank House, wandering the hallways of the narrow and tight building, and getting a firsthand sense of what the young girl went through over her more than two years in hiding.
Today, on what would have been her 89th birthday, Facebook-owned Oculus and the Dutch virtual reality development company ForceField have made it possible to explore in VR the Anne Frank House as it looked in 1944, and to listen to Frank’s words.
The new VR experience, Anne Frank House VR, offers a somber journey through the hidden annex, and gives a sense of the tight quarters and daily stresses of hiding from the Nazi forces that sought to deport, and eventually murder, millions of Jews throughout Europe. The computer-generated experience is packed with artifacts and spoken passages from Frank’s diary, all meant to provide a look at the daily life of her and her family of seven over those last two years before the Germans finally captured them. Because of the 360-degree nature of VR, viewers are able to spend time in these rooms, looking around them, pausing to think, and then pressing on.
Available for the Oculus Rift, Oculus Go, and Samsung Gear VR, the experience is of course not a replacement for visiting the actual Anne Frank House, but for those unable to make a trip to Amsterdam, it’s a worthy option.