A Holocaust survivor has also commented on the widely-criticised trend, which sees users dress up as concentration camp victims
TikTok’s recent trend that sees users “cosplay” as Holocaust victims and act out scenes from concentration camps has already been condemned by many, both inside and outside of the Jewish community. Now, it’s also been directly addressed by the Auschwitz museum.
Unsurprisingly, the museum based on the site where over one million Jewish people were executed in gas chambers echoes the critics of TikTokers taking part in the trend, calling it “hurtful and offensive” in a statement posted to Twitter yesterday (August 26).
“Some videos are dangerously close or already beyond the border of trivialization of history,” the museum adds, though it also suggests critics should refrain from shaming or attacking the young people involved (whose motivations are varied, and aren’t always 100 per cent clear) and instead treat it as an “educational challenge”.
While many have dismissed the TikTok trend as “trauma porn”, some creators taking part – whose TikToks show make-up simulating burns, and striped outfits resembling those worn by victims in Nazi death camps, complete with the Star of David badge – have defended their videos as educational, or a misguided attempt to raise awareness.
“We should continuously raise awareness that not every social media activity can commemorate the Holocaust,” the Auschwitz museum continues. “It always demands respect towards the victims, proper language and context as well as factual accuracy.”
The museum also points to issues with social media that it considers “far more outrageous” than the TikTok trend, referencing algorithms promoting anti-semitic material or Holocaust denial (these algorithms also saw memes about death camps go viral on TikTok earlier in the year).
In light of TikTok’s Holocaust “cosplaying” trend – which is primarily documented in a thread of more than 50 examples on Twitter – Dr Martin Stern, a Holocaust survivor who was held in camps at Westerbork and Theresienstadt as a child, says that the videos make light of victims’ experiences, telling Metro: “I’m absolutely outraged.”
“This generation are being brought up self-satisfied in their ignorance and give huge offence. If their families had been involved in what my families had been involved in, they would see the horror of it. People need to get themselves better informed.”
Read the Auschwitz museum’s full statement below.
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