“Eva Stories” is a Snapchat series recently published in the midst of commemorating 75 years since Auschwitz was liberated on January 27th, 1945, and re-enacts the daily life of Eva Heyman based on her diary.
Living as a young Jewish girl on the border of Romania and Hungary during Nazi rule, she wrote in her diary up until she was deported to the Auschwitz concentration camp where she eventually died in 1944, at just 13 years old.
The Holocaust, or the “mass murder of European Jews… by the German Nazi regime,” spanned from 1933 to 1945, this horrific genocide having been led by anti-Semitic leader Adolf Hitler. “Mass killing centers,” or concentration camps, took over Poland and resulted in the death of “approximately six million Jews and millions of others.” Over one million of said victims were children, Heyman one of many.
As the series is based on Heyman’s own diary, the intended effect seems to be to enlighten those unfamiliar with the young girl’s experience similar to a more well-known counterpart, Anne Frank. A historical lesson may very well be the intended goal here, though it is never explicitly stated; viewers can only infer from the disclaimer at the beginning of the series that this is informed by true events and experiences from Heyman’s perspective.
Upon seeing this in my Snapchat “For You” page, I was immediately skeptical about this entire concept in general. Is turning an experience of a young Jewish girl during the Holocaust into a simple, easily-clickable piece of content on social media really the lengths we have to go to for teaching history?
I ask readers to question if this new platform for teaching historical lessons is beneficial or insensitive – does taking something so horrific and turning it into something “relatable” have a more positive or negative effect on teaching such an infamously important period in history?
And more importantly: Does this desensitize and almost reduce what happened to something that can be clicked through in a matter of minutes? Or does it transform the traditional history lesson into something more digestible and understandable?