A Holocaust app for primary school children was released for National Refugee Week on Monday, with users following a Jewish boy through Berlin in the 1930s.
The government-funded app, developed with THE National Holocaust Centre and Museum (NHCM) with the support of the Department for Education, lets pupils assume the role of Leo, a young Jewish boy growing up in Nazi Germany, who is eventually forced to flee.
Players navigate 360-degree searchable virtual environments, discover hidden objects, answer questions and complete a diary of events before moving to the next stage, in an experience that lets children “step into Leo’s world” from 90 years ago.
Users of the ‘The Journey’ app move through five years’ worth of events in ten animated episodes, which developers say encourage schoolchildren to learn about identity, friendship and kindness.
The app is downloadable from Apple devices this week and will be available from Android devices later this summer, after a three-year development period led by the National Holocaust Centre and Museum (NHCM) in Nottinghamshire, whose ‘Journey’ exhibition it is based on.
The Association of Jewish Refugees was also involved in the app’s creation, and several Holocaust survivors inputted, following funding from the Arts Council and the Ministry of Communities and Local Government.
The app is designed for Key Stage 2 children at primary school in Years 5 and 6, meaning those aged 9-11, and organisers said survivors and family members of those who came to the UK on the Kindertransport had a hand in the design.
“They were consulted as part of the process and the fictitious character Leo is a composite of all of their real-life experiences,” said an NHCM spokesman.
Holocaust Survivor and Kindertransport refugee Ruth Barnett, who was involved in the app’s creation, said: “It gives primary school children an experience of what it was like for children of their age at the time of Hitler’s Reich.”
She added: “The possibilities for a user of this app are many times greater than those in the exhibition and as it can be downloaded into individual computers, there will be no time limit as there is in taking a group round the exhibition.”
NHCM chief executive Marc Cave said: “This is 21st Century storytelling and distribution aimed at a problem that society has continuously failed to solve since the 20th Century and indeed many centuries before that.”