As the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall approaches on the 9th November, VIRTUALLY HISTORY utilises the latest technology and research to bring the past to life – bringing those that found ingenious (and claustrophobic) ways to cross the East/West Berlin divide into brilliantly sharp focus.
It’s a unique way to celebrate the anniversary with real life stories – a sort of high tech ‘Who Do You Think You Are?’
YouTube Originals and Remarkable TV (part of EndemolShine UK) have teamed up to launch “Virtually History: The Berlin Wall”, a new 30 minute special marking the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall and bringing viewers an immersive new way of history being brought to life.
Transported back in time through the power of stunning VR, three people with a personal connection to the Berlin Wall join social historian host Emma Dabiri (BBC2’s Back in Time for Brixton) to step inside family photographs which show remarkable stories of those that tunnelled under the wall, near-misses with the East German secret police and raising the nearly united German flag as the wall fell. With special VR sections narrated by British actor Paul McGann, this is a first-of-its-kind exploration of this period in incredible virtual reality detail.
As contributors dramatically step into the virtual recreations of their family’s past, simultaneously YouTube creators Riyadh K, Hannah Witton, and Rezo follow their journeys, experiencing the past first-hand, across generations and continents as never before. This is an unprecedented moment in history experienced through a very unique and emotional lens.
Launching ahead of the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall on the 9th November, “Virtually History: The Berlin Wall” is a timely reminder of the need to embrace unity and partnership between people and cultures.
Commenting on the project, Luke Hyams, the Head of YouTube Originals EMEA said:
“The YouTube community is always looking for new ways to bring people together whether to explore their interests and passions or as a place to educate themselves. Working with Remarkable TV on Virtually History, we have been able to bring a crucial time in history to life like never before and, with the help of some of my favourite YouTube creators, able to bring the stories of those that lived through divisions of the past into new and immediate focus. The family stories of Anton, Franzi and Janek are all extraordinary and using the latest VR technology allows us to show how relevant they are to new generations beyond the history books.”
Kitty Walshe, Joint Managing Director, Remarkable TV, explained:
“Using cutting-edge visual effects and VR on Virtually History has enabled us to take storytelling to another level for YouTube. The innovative approach used by our amazing creative team – lead by Patrick Furlong and Joff Wilson – will transport viewers back in time to these poignant moments.”
Personal contributor with a family connection to the Berlin Wall, Anton Von Keussler commented:
“My grandfather was responsible for helping dig out ‘Tunnel 57’ which helped many people escape under the Berlin Wall. Standing next to him as a young man in virtual reality was really special and made me so proud of him. Being near his age now, I can’t imagine how brave he was to do this under such stressful conditions so deep beneath the ground. It was remarkable to be able to step and crawl along in his footsteps, and I can’t wait to show him the special when it launches.”
Personal contributor with a family connection to the Berlin Wall, Fanziska Rosin of Berlin, shared:
“Exploring the VR in Virtually History has allowed me to step inside a family photograph depicting my grandmother and her family fleeing to West Germany moments before the secret police arrived. While I’ve heard the story many times from my family, having the chance to stand next to my grandmother in virtual reality has allowed me to see the expression on her face, see the fear in her eyes, and understand the courage they had was really powerful for me.”
YouTube creator Riyadh K said:
“I was honoured to be asked to take part in Virtually History. My own father escaped from Iraq during Saddam Hussein’s brutal regime, leaving family and friends behind. For this reason, I feel a strong connection with those who attempted to flee from East Germany and really helped me connect to this moment in history and the show in a personal way. The special offers a great opportunity to reflect on the need to build bridges rather than further divisions in today’s society.”
YouTube creator Hannah Witton has said:
“Exploring Berlin and the fall of the wall in VR for Virtually History gave me the chance to learn about the Berlin Wall in a way I never could from reading history books. It was a pivotal time in our history and has touched my family as well. My great grandmother grew up in Germany before moving to the UK and, after the wall went up, she was unable to revisit her home. Now being able to walk the streets of Berlin and experience the intensity of this time has brought a new level of meaning to my connection to this period and my family’s history.”
YouTube creator Rezo has said: “Being able to immerse myself in history was a special experience for me. To really see the Berlin Wall in its old form and not only to be able to read it in books was unbelievable.”
VIRTUALLY HISTORY: THE BERLIN WALL is available to watch for free now on YouTube. The series is produced by Remarkable TV.