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Photo from Eva Stories social media campaign that adapted the diary of a 13-year-old Holocaust victim, Eva Heyman, to a series of Instagram stories. Extracts from Heyman's diary can be found on the World Holocaust Remembrance Center website.  (Storyful Gallery via The Washington Post).
Photo from Eva Stories social media campaign that adapted the diary of a 13-year-old Holocaust victim, Eva Heyman, to a series of Instagram stories. Extracts from Heyman's diary can be found on the World Holocaust Remembrance Center website.  (Storyful…

Eva Stories: Is it possible to create historical awareness through Instagram?

What if a girl had Instagram during the Holocaust? Social networks confirm that they are the best way to educate younger generations.

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May 27th, 2022

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The shrinking of the survivor community raises concern among Jews in recounting the Holocaust to younger generations.

While Israel commemorated Holocaust Memorial Day on May 2, a new initiative was generated to educate millennials about the six million Jewish victims during the Holocaust.

Eva Stories is an ambitious project that recreates the story of Eva Heyman, a Hungarian Jewish teenager who documented in her diary the Nazi invasion until the day she was sent to the Auschwitz extermination camp in Poland.

Heyman aspired to be a photojournalist in London and perhaps her post-mortem merit is that her diary has managed to explain through video and images what the process of Jewish extermination was like.

The piece on Instagram quickly went viral: more than 100 million visits in just 14 hours since its publication and 880,000 profile followers around the world.

Heyman has managed to send a message to at least 50 percent of viewers under 30 years of age with her diary.

"If we want to bring the memory of the Holocaust to the young generation, we have to bring it to where they are. And they are on Instagram," said co-producer of the project, Mati Kochavi, an Israeli billionaire and victim of the Holocaust.

The creator explains that his inspiration for the project began with his concern about the Holocaust denial, along with the dwindling population of survivors who provided direct testimony of the events.

Since its launch last week, Eva Stories has received criticism from those who believe it can banalize the story. But the attraction focuses on the power of Instagram over the new generations: immediacy and deep closeness generate empathy.

When the character of Eva goes to the camera, she speaks freely in an intimate close-up. The actress can fluctuate between a lovely girl in her youthful fullness to anger and fear when the story begins to darken.

The narrator is alone when using the device. History feels closer and not as a modern and perhaps boring update on the Holocaust for new generations, who may never come across masterpieces like Schindler's List or Inglourious Basterds.

As the paper files grow and become unmanageable or lost - and as human memories die with the bodies they inhabit - pieces like Eva Stories on Instagram contribute to perpetuate in the cloud an historical archive that, until now, only belonged to museums and Holocaust memorials - places that have indeed been banalized through the selfies of tourists.

Eva Stories will make us recognize that we must use technology along with traditional formats to educate about our past and, perhaps, create a conscience that would help us avoid making the same mistakes all over again.

To see the compilation of Eva Stories, click here.

 

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