Holocaust survivor 'outraged' after teens pose as victims on TikTok

A survivor of the Holocaust has hit out at a trend on TikTok for people to pose as victims of the Nazis, calling it an ‘outrage’. 

Dr Martin Stern MBE, who was held in concentration camps at both Westerbork and Theresienstadt as a child, said the videos showed a lack of understanding. 

‘I’m absolutely outraged,’ he told metro.co.uk. ‘This generation are being brought up self-satisfied in their ignorance and give huge offence.’

He was responding to people filming themselves pretending to be victims of the Holocaust.

Some of them dressed up in striped outfits, resembling the clothing Jews were made to wear in concentration camps, and they talk to the camera as though they are in heaven, looking back at how they died in the Nazi death camps.

Dr Stern, 81, said: ‘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.

‘Racism isn’t just a matter of white against black; it occurs all over the world and can be any group against any other group. 

‘All groups have got to support all groups. We are all human beings and deserve the same dignity.

Some of those sharing videos claimed they were doing so to educate others about the Holocaust, or said they wanted to tell the story of their own family members.

But Dr Stern, who regularly speaks out against genocide across the world, said the videos made light of the .

He said: ‘There are still horrors going on right this day. That’s what I’m fighting against. 

‘It is a characteristic of people who commit great evil to believe they are doing a good thing. 

‘It’s no excuse to think that you’re entertaining or doing something good. Ignorance is no excuse for behaving in a deeply immoral way.’

He urged them to go to Holocaust education centres or the Anne Frank Foundation to learn more about the history they were acting out. 

Dr Stern said they should take into account Rabbi Hillel’s teaching: ‘What is hateful to you, don’t do to another. That is the whole Torah; the rest is commentary. Now go and study.’ 

Several of those who posted videos have now apologised, with one user deleting her account.

Marc Cave, CEO of the UK National Holocaust Museum, told metro.co.uk that the videos on TikTok were emblematic of a problem with social media in general, which he said should be more regulated to prevent anti-semitic content and misinformation spreading.

He said the videos were ‘demeaning’ to both victims and survivors of the Nazi genocide, which saw around six million Jewish people systematically murdered, as well as millions of others they believed were inferior.

‘Trauma porn’ is an accurate description of the videos, he said, adding: ‘This is facile, puerile role play. If they want to spread awareness, work with Holocaust educators like ourselves.’

Marc recommended his organisation’s Forever Project to learn more, where survivors answer questions about their experiences.

Olivia Marks-Woldman, Chief Executive of the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust, said: ’Those of us who work in Holocaust education and remembrance want to see young people learning from history, but this trend is insensitive and potentially upsetting for those who lost loved ones during the Holocaust.

‘Whilst the intention of many young people may be to raise awareness of the past, I recommend instead sharing the life stories of real people who were persecuted and murdered. Holocaust Memorial Day Trust holds the remarkable experiences of both survivors and victims. Their experiences should inform our lives today, so we can learn from genocide, for a better future.’

According to the review of the Holocaust clips by TikTok’s Trust and Safety team, these videos not ‘constitute a violation’ of the guidelines due to their educational nature and ‘aim to raise awareness’.

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