Holocaust survivors and remembrance organizations object to how younger generation is using TikTok to commemorate victims
A new trend has begun on the TikTok social media platform of young people dressing up as Holocaust victims, ostensibly in an effort to commemorate them. Men and women are using the platform act to out scenes in which they pretend to be Holocaust victims who are now in heaven, who have "smudged" faces, and who are wearing either prison uniforms or rags with the Star of David on them.
Some Holocaust survivors and Jewish organizations are criticizing the dramatizations. The young people, however, are defending themselves by saying they just want to highlight the horrors of Nazism.
"Welcome to Heaven. How did you die? In the gas chambers of Auschwitz," begins just one of the many #holocaust videos posted to TikTok.
The videos frequently use footage of the Auschwitz concentration camp and some use the upbeat pop song "Locked Out of Heaven" by Bruno Mars (which is about sex). A Twitter user named Briana, who is a member of the Ashkenazi Jewish community in Los Angeles, California, used Twitter to highlight the new trend and gave the following statement to Wired magazine: “Most creators are doing [these videos] to hop onto a trend so they can get likes and exposure [but they are] ill informed and woefully ignorant. [...] These kinds of trends are so normalised these days, there’s also a level of shock value content which I think is outdated and in bad taste. This shock value further desensitises viewers to this type of behaviour and normalises this type of harmful content.”
Members of Briana's family were murdered by the Nazis during the Holocaust. She shared one of the videos and tweeted the following message at TikTok: "@tiktok_us did these girls really cosplay a holocaust victim and narrative for a tik tok.. such a callous mockery of the genocide of millions of jews and other marginalized groups, i feel sick #Holocaust #tiktok #holocaustchallenge (more to follow)"
A 17-year-old girl who created one of the videos told the Insider news server that it seemed important to her to communicate the stories of concentration camp victims and that she had not intended to cause offense. The Auschwitz Memorial and Museum has also responded to the new trend, calling the videos hurtful and offensive.
The museum tweeted the following message along with a longer statement on the issue: "The 'victims' trend on TikTok can be hurtful & offensive. Some videos are dangerously close or already beyond the border of trivialization of history. But we should discuss this not to shame & attack young people whose motivation[s] seem very diverse. It's an educational challenge."
The 'victims' trend on TikTok can be hurtful & offensive. Some videos are dangerously close or already beyond the border of trivialization of history.— Auschwitz Memorial (@AuschwitzMuseum) August 26, 2020
But we should discuss this not to shame & attack young people whose motivation seem very diverse. It's an educational challenge. pic.twitter.com/CB4Ve2uRUK
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