@eva.stories tell us about Holocaust at Instagram


1980. When I was young I read “Anne Frank’s Diary”. I was shocked by her story. Thirty years later I visited Anne Frank’s home. That book had changed my life forever.

2019, forty years later. These days, you can follow Holocaust at “real time” because a new project is born: @eva.stories tell us about Holocaust at Instagram.

This is the Holocaust told to the social media generation.

Mati Kochavi and his daughter, Maya, have created a series of 70 Instagram stories that chronicle the downward spiral of Eva Heyman’s life in the fateful spring of 1944 when the Nazis conquered Hungary.

The IG account went live Wednesday afternoon for the start of Israel’s annual Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Day.

Eva Heyman was born into a secular, middle-class family in Nagyvarad, a town that then had 100,000 residents, a fifth of them Jewish. She lived with her grandparents after her parents divorced. She made the perfect subject for the Instagram project: She dreamed of becoming a news photographer and began writing her diary on her 13th birthday, Feb. 13, 1944.

Eva Heyman wrote a journal about her experiences as a Jew in Hungary after the Nazis took control. Her writings have been turned into Instagram stories to educate young people about the Holocaust, the deliberate killing of 6 million Jews during World War II. 

The Washington Post

The teenager’s Instagram posts start out breezily enough. Eva Heyman, who just got her first pair of heels for her 13th birthday, films herself eating ice cream in the park. There’s also a teenage crush.

But everything rapidly turns dark.

Much as Anne Frank’s diary gripped older generations, fictionalized social media account of real teenager Eva Heyman, murdered by the Nazis, is generating buzz among today’s young.

Time of Israel

In 70 short episodes, a British actress playing Eva takes followers along on her Holocaust journey: a happy bourgeois prewar existence interrupted by the Nazi invasion of her hometown in what was then Hungary; her family’s forced move into the cramped chaos of the ghetto; and the packed train that ultimately transports her to Auschwitz, the Nazi death camp from which she never returns.

Eva Stories” try to engage screen-hooked post-millennials in Holocaust education and remembrance as the last generation of survivors is dying out.

The memory of the Holocaust outside of Israel is disappearing, so Mr. Kochavi and his daughter thought, let’s do something really disruptive. They found the journal and said, ‘Let’s assume that instead of pen and paper Eva had a smartphone and documented what was happening to her. So they brought a smartphone to 1944.

It’s the way people communicate. I have no doubt in my mind that young people around the world want to have serious content and be connected in the right way.

Mati Kochavi

“Eva Stories” was filmed over three weeks in Ukraine, and 400 people were involved in the production. The Kochavis sourced tanks, trucks and motorcycles from the period for the invasion scenes. They developed a camera that the actress could hold like a phone.

In her diary, Eva gave vivid expression to her inner secrets, hopes and fears as her world shrank. Soon after the German invasion, Jews were forced to wear yellow stars and were only allowed outside for one hour a day, between 9 a.m. and 10 a.m.

When the police came into Eva’s home to send her family to the ghetto, she wrote: “Everything happened like in a film.” Once there, she described the notices pasted on every house with rules and prohibitions.

“Actually,” she wrote, “everything is forbidden, but the most awful thing of all is that the punishment for everything is death.”

Eva’s diary ended on May 30, 1944, a few days before her deportation. Mr. Kochavi said the Instagram stories from the train were based on descriptions that Eva heard in the ghetto and included in her journal.

Eva was killed in Auschwitz on Oct. 17, 1944, one of 1.5 million children murdered in the Holocaust. Her mother, Agnes Zsolt, survived the Holocaust and found the diary when she returned to Nagyvarad.

If we want to bring the memory of the Holocaust to the young generation, we have to bring it to where they are. And they’re on Instagram.

Mati Kochavi co-producer

What do you think about it? Will this project be a success media event for entertainment or will it provide us and our kids an educational tool to try to understand the horror of the Holocaust?

I think this is a revolution, and I would like more initiatives like this.

What if a girl in The Holocaust had INSTAGRAM?

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