It has been more than 70 years since the liberation of the infamous Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration and extermination camps. But the search for Nazi Germans and their collaborators still continues.


A still from the 3D model

German experts and prosecutors are now using Virtual Reality and 3D modelling to aid them when the suspected perpetrators are brought to trial.

Thanks to a new virtual reality model created in part by original blueprints and 3D modelling cameras, prosecutors and other experts  now have the ability to digitally ‘walk’ through the Auschwitz-Birkenau extermination camp where more than 1.1 million Jews alone were killed during World War II.

Ralf Breker, a digital imaging expert  is responsible for creating the project:

“We spent five days in Auschwitz taking laser scans of the buildings and the whole project took about six months…[To  complete]” 

The 3D model was originally intended to be used on standard computer monitors, but was adapted for Virtual Reality headsets as the technology became more readily available. Now with the aid of a VR headset, viewers can examine the camp from any angle and viewpoint.

Breker said:

“We searched the Auschwitz archives and we were lucky, we found blueprints from all of the buildings that had been destroyed – so we were able to recreate them.” 

While Breker’s VR version of Auschwitz has yet to be used in court,  the 3D computer model was used in the most recent war crimes prosecution of wartime SS camp guard Reinhold Hanning.

“In the court decision the judge explicitly referred to the model and said that the model made it possible to grasp what Reinhold Hanning would have seen from his post at the watchtower… I think that within five to 10 years, virtual reality will become a standard tool for police, not just in Germany but all over the world because it’s a way to make scenes of crime accessible even years later.” 

Over 11 million people were victims of the holocaust. Around 6 million of them were Jews.