Since its release on Holocaust Remembrance Day in 2019, Eva Stories – an Instagram project depicting the fate of a Jewish teenager in Nazi Hungary, has lined up successes. In its initial 48 hours, the 60-minute film divided into a series of Instagram stories had reached 300 million video views.
The project’s Instagram account became Israel’s third most-followed local account, following Gal Gadot and Bar Refaeli. Currently, it has 1.2 million followers and two Internet Oscars (Webbys) to show for, capturing the interest of more than 50 major global media outlets and their audiences.
So how did this massive success come to be?
Eva Stories was adapted from the real diary of Eva Heyman, a 13-year-old Hungarian Jewish girl who was deported to Auschwitz in 1944 and was eventually murdered there. Under the caption “What if a Girl During the Holocaust Had Instagram”, the project portrays its main protagonist as a modern-day teenager recording her day with a mobile phone.
In her stories, “Eva” does what any girl her age would do today. She films herself, her friends, and her family, talks about her school crush and ambition to become a famous news photographer, throwing in an emoji every now and then.
The authors, Israeli tech entrepreneur Mati Kochavi and his daughter Maya (themselves from a family of Holocaust victims and survivors), had one main idea behind the project. They wanted to keep the younger generations from forgetting the horrors perpetrated by the Nazis in World War II. This is why they decided to use an instrument close to the Gen-Z to bring this compelling story to life. And this instrument was social media.
As a result, they managed to successfully reach younger generations relying on mobile devices for entertainment and information on a more intimate level. Namely, the viewer feels as if they are witnessing through Eva’s eyes the unfolding of the Nazi invasion and experiencing her own confusion and horror over these events.
To introduce this novel concept to Israelis, the Eva Stories campaign was announced on billboards and online prior to being released over 48 hours around Holocaust Remembrance Day. This preparation and fitting timing has also contributed to the project’s massive success.
That said, the project sparked a fierce debate over whether social media was the appropriate channel to depict the atrocities of the Holocaust. Critics have argued that it trivializes them, with some even calling it “a display of bad taste”.
Nevertheless, the project has successfully brought attention to a part of history that a lot of the younger generation may not know enough about. In doing so, it has preserved the lasting memory of the Holocaust for generations to come.