Volume 5 Issue 2 April 2007 Applied Research Note 1

A Memorial as Virtual Traumascape: Darkest Tourism in 3D and Cyber-Space to the Gas Chambers of Auschwitz

by Lutz Kaelber

Tourism to traumascapes has as its destination sites associated with trauma (dark tourism), sites where disaster and tragedy actually occurred (darker tourism), or virtual recreations of such sites, particularly of the latter type (darkest tourism). A destination of darker tourism, Auschwitz attracts many visitors each year. Whereas the physical site is difficult to reach and contains remnants of the past that have either disintegrated or been substantially reconfigured, or are physically inaccessible, virtual Auschwitz tours exist that allow a different appropriation of an obliterated traumascape. Distinguishing between tourism online, online tourism, and virtual tourism as different types of site appropriation, this article focuses on the virtual visitation of actual and recreated Auschwitz gas chambers as a form of darkest tourism. It describes and analyzes the ways in which virtual tours in 3D and cyber-space create and recreate past trauma, and how they engage the senses.

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