Plundering: Beginning of a Genocide

4-star rating
Art, Education, Free, History, Museums
Comfortable, Stationary

Warehouse full of crates and an ancient statue.

The Nazi Party's systematic theft of art and literature occurred on an enormous scale both before and during the Second World War, targeting minority groups that include Jewish people in particular. In a coordinated program aimed at destroying the cultural heritage of entire populations, families had their belongings stripped, museums were ransacked and items that didn't meet the party's approval were destroyed and lost forever.

Among the many horrors of this dark period it is possible for some historical events get overlooked. Plundering is a Virtual Reality experience produced by the The Living History Forum that informs and educates by example - taking you into recreations of the buildings that were looted and into salt mines where prized artworks were stored and hidden. Through a sequence of chapters the experience uses stories of individual artifacts to describe a bigger scheme of intolerance, propaganda and greed. It accomplishes this effectively and objectively, leaving the viewer feeling better informed by the end of the production.

Plundering presents its facts well, with a clean and functional user interface. The viewer can easily navigate through this virtual exhibit in any way they choose. As the focus is on the narrative rather than individual pieces of art or literature we can forgive some fuzziness in the graphical representations of some objects, particularly since the experience is illustrated so well and includes additional photography and historical documents.

An octagonal room in a museum. White walls hung with paintings. A black and white photograph floating in the foreground with interpretative text.
Exhibits are cleanly presented, though fuzzy at times.

Taking around an hour to explore fully, we recommend viewing this as a seated experience. Note that occasional selectable artifacts and icons are positioned at the edges of vision and without a controller-bound turning option we had to physically turn in our seat to find and select them.

There are no superfluous interactive elements in Plundering. You will be clicking on icons next to artifacts, listening to a narrative that is also projected in text before you, then clicking on the exit button to advance. In fact there are no individual compelling reasons to be experiencing this exhibit in virtual reality, except that we found the sum of the parts to work well in this medium. Setting each chapter in a different location, each with a different soundtrack and accompanying sound effects provided a level of light immersion and was beneficial to improving our focus on the subject matter.

Narration could have been improved for English speaking audiences. Though the Swedish text is read clearly by the author of the piece, the English translation includes some mistranslations and what seems to be an AI-rendered audio narration makes mildly distracting mistakes at times - even pronouncing 'East' as 'West' at one point.

We recommend this experience for reminding us of this important subject. Human societies and individuals can far too easily be encouraged into feelings of hate and intolerance that can lead to horrific consequences, examples of which feature in world news events far too regularly. Perhaps in this case, a recounting of history through inanimate objects might help us learn lessons about human nature and how to avoid becoming a part of future catastrophes.

A ransacked attic room. Icons float next to multiple objects
Each chapter is set in a different location. Exhibits highlighted for inspection.

Black and white street, with black and white photo for each chapter.
Chapter selection menu

✅ Factual approach to an important subject.
✅ Polished production with clean UI & graphics.
❌ English narration has minor distracting errors.
❌ Benefits from viewing in VR are marginal.

• Wikipedia: Further reading on Nazi plunder
• Languages: English, Swedish
• Facebook: Comment on this article

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