TikTok Holocaust trend shows that we need to teach the ethics of remembrance

[From The Conversation]

by Professor of Modern Languages and German Studies, University of Birmingham

Some used makeup to simulate bruises or burns. Others dressed in imitations of the striped uniforms of the concentration camps or wore a yellow star imprinted with the word “Jude” (Jew) – a reference to the symbol that Jewish people were forced to wear in Nazi Germany.

The TikTok Holocaust trend saw users – for the most part, teenagers – uploading videos of themselves pretending to be Holocaust victims entering heaven. Many were outraged, describing the videos as “trauma porn” or even antisemitic. In contrast, creators stressed their intentions to educate or spread awareness.

The Auschwitz Birkenau Memorial and Museum (ABMM) said that the videos were “hurtful and offensive”. But it noted that for some, they represented a “need to find some way of expressing personal memory”.

As this suggests, the trend sparks questions about what the right way to respectfully remember traumatic events in the past, and how first-person accounts can be used to achieve that.

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