Lack of knowledge no longer an excuse as precise 3D model of Auschwitz, showing gas chambers and crematoria, helps address atrocities
German prosecutors and police have developed 3D technology to help them catch the last living Nazi war criminals with a highly precise model of Auschwitz.
The virtual reality death camp offers 21st-century fact-finding technology for the final Holocaust trials, in a twilight bid by the German justice system to address the atrocities committed seven decades ago.
“It has often been the case that suspects say they worked at Auschwitz but didn’t really know what was going on,” Jens Rommel, head of the federal office investigating Nazi war crimes said.
“Legally, the question is about intent: must a suspect have known that people were being taken to the gas chambers or shot? This model is a very good and very modern tool for the investigation because it can help answer that question.”
Created by Bavarian state crime office digital imaging expert Ralf Breker, the model brings to life in astonishing detail the notorious Nazi-run camp in occupied Poland where more than 1.1 million people died during the second world war.
“To my knowledge, there is no more exact model of Auschwitz,” Breker, 43, said.
“It is much, much more precise than Google Earth,” he said. “We use the most modern VR goggles on the market. When I zoom in, I can see the smallest detail.”
Wearing the headset, prosecutors, judges and co-plaintiffs can have the chilling experience of moving about 1940s-era Auschwitz at will.
Even the trees stand where they once were, to determine whether they could have blocked the view from a certain vantage point.
“The advantage the model offers is that I get a better overview of the camp and can recreate the perspective of a suspect, for example in a watchtower,” Breker said.