What is the goal of the project “The Liberation”?
75 years ago the Concentration Camp Dachau was liberated. The Bayerischer Rundfunk and the Concentration Camp Memorial Site tell the story of this day with the means of digital storytelling. This will present a new form of commemorative culture: Impressive images taken at their original location, combined with personal audio-stories allow a immersive experience of this moment in time and a new approach to this historical event.
Who is responsible for the project “The Liberation”?
The Bayerische Rundfunk and the Concentration Camp Memorial Site Dachau researched the topics in collaboration. Editorial and journalistic responsibility lies with the Bayerischer Rundfunk, fact checking by the Concentration Camp Memorial Site Dachau. For contributors see also menu point “Team and Cast”.
Has the project originally been planned as virtual tour?
No. At the start we planned to provide an augmented reality app for the 75th anniversary. Until mid-March we worked flat out to offer the tour you can take on the website now, as AR experience on your smartphone. Together with start-up Zaubar (https://www.zaubar.com) we worked for the technical realization. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic Dachau memorial site had to close and the app will not be published for now.
What exactly is augmented-reality, AR?
With the help of augmented reality you can enhance the reality we can see with our own eyes. In the App “The Liberation-AR” historical images and sound-snippets will be placed at predetermined places on the Memorial Site. A view back into the past will be possible, a bit like in a hologram. You can use your smartphone or your tablet with the app.
Can I experience the project on the Memorial Site as well?
As soon as the Concentration Camp Memorial Site is reopened, we will launch the accompanying augmented-reality app.
Which sources were used? Are they all originals?
We focused on diaries, letters and reports to allow a direct experience with the historical moment. The images were taken during or shortly after the liberation. Most images were taken by US-soldiers and by war correspondents accompanying the army.
You can find the copyright-information under “sources and copyright info”
Could you place all images at the original places of the former camp area?
No, for several reasons. We don’t know exactly where some of the images were taken originally. The area of the current Memorial Site covers only parts of the original camp. Some parts of the former concentration camp are no longer accessible for the public. The so called “death-train” for example stood in part in the area of the former SS-camp, where today you can find the buildings of the Bayerische Bereitschaftspolizei.
To tell the story of the liberation as complete as possible you will find images in the tour that were taken outside of the Memorial Site.
On the other hand the concentration camp was used by different parties and changed in appearance several times between 1945 and the foundation of the Memorial Siete in 1965. Therefore the background in some images does not exist any more or we cannot access the exact place. In these cases we tried to get as close as we could to the original placement of the image, to reach a historically as possible immersion of the images in the Memorial Site.
How did you chose these images and quotes?
Many people experienced liberation day of the concentration camp Dachau and later wrote about it, and war correspondents took photos. We chose images and quotes which can tell a broad and comprehensive story of the moment of liberation. We hear prisoners, US-Soldiers, war correspondents and members of the International Red Cross.
Was the 42nd Infantry Division of the US-Army alone present at Dachau?
No, the 45th Infantry Division was also at the site. Both divisions were told to look out for the concentration camp, the US-Army was not sure of the exact location of the camp. On April, 29th, 1945, both divisions were on site. There is an ongoing discussion which of the two divisions is the “liberator” of the camp. The 45th Infantry Division reached the camp from another side than the 42nd. This is why the 42nd Infantry Division under command of brigadier general Henning Linden was the division that was approached by Viktor Maurer from the Red Cross and the camp commandant, SS-Untersturmführer Heinrick Wicker. While they surrendered the camp, the 45th Infantry Division was still fighting in the SS-camp right next to the prisoners’ camp and arrived there only later.
Will there be accompanying educational programmes?
As soon as the AR-App is launched the educational department of the Memorial Site will offer an accompanying workshop-programme for schools and youth groups. The workshops will be financed through the foundation “Erinnerung, Verantwortung und Zukunft” and is free of charge. More information about the workshops see the website of the Memorial Site.