The true story of a 13-year-old Holocaust victim is being told through Instagram to bring the horrors of the Final Solution to a post-millennial generation.
‘Eva Stories (#eva_stories) is the social media re-telling of Eva Heyland’s diaries that tells, in her own words, the story of how a teenage girl’s happy childhood in her native Hungary was brutally cut short by persecution and, eventually, the gas chambers of Auschwitz.
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The account went live on Wednesday afternoon to mark the start of Israel’s annual Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Day.
It was viewed over a hundred million views in just 24 hours.
The Instagram story that trails the project shows Eva, played by 12-year-old Mia Quiney from Kent, dancing with her #BFFs, standing at a piano with her grandparents and eating ice cream in the park with her crush.
But the light hearted tone gives way to something far darker as neighbours spit insults at her and Nazi soldiers round up her family. Haunting images show men, women and children in the cattle trucks that delivered them to the death camps.
Holocaust remembrance advocates are increasingly looking for new ways to keep survivors’ stories alive as global understanding of the genocide that killed six million European Jews – around a two-thirds of the Jewish population of the continent – between 1941-1945, diminishes.
Mia Quiney said using Instagram in this way makes Eva’s story “relatable to anyone who has a phone and is her age”.
Mia told ITV News: “People from Israel my age have texted me saying their grandparents were Holocaust survivors and this has helped them come into contract to what their grandparents were feeling.”
‘Eva Stories’ is the creation of billionaire businessman Mati Kochavi who spent £4 million pounds on the project so the world could hear the story that “broke his heart”.
It has not been without controversy, with some people saying using social media as a platform to tell one of history’s darkest chapters is “sensationalist” and “distasteful”.
But Mr Kochavi said: “We have new tools, there’s new technology, and if we use the new technology, we can create new ways to educate young people in a better way.”
And as Holocaust survivors disappear it is more vital than ever to kept stories like Eva’s at the forefront of the world’s consciousness.