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It was 77 years ago on Jan. 27 that Auschwitz, the largest Nazi concentration camp, was liberated.
That day has since become International Holocaust Remembrance Day — and this year, one TikTok influencer is determined to share her story.
The 98-year-old TikToker is a Holocaust survivor who lost several members of her family during her time in Auschwitz, where an estimated 1.1 million people lost their lives.
Lily Ebert has been active on TikTok since the pandemic, when her 18-year-old great-grandson urged her to share her story with a wide audience.
“I said to my great-grandmother, ‘If they can go viral for dancing, why can’t we go viral for sharing these really important messages?’” Dov Forman told CBS.
His idea worked. Now over 1.6 million people follow Ebert on the platform, her videos informing younger audiences about the truths of the Holocaust while amassing over 23 million likes.
“I want to tell you about my story, because in a few years time I won’t be able to. It will become history,” she said in one of her initial videos.
Forman and Ebert, who live in London, began creating videos often centered around her experience as a 20-year-old in the horrific concentration camp. They often participate in TikTok trends as a way to dispel misinformation.
A June 2021 video showing Ebert’s identification number tattoo from the concentration camp received over 20 million views.
“I thought single-handedly, I will tell my story and I will change the world,” Ebert — who lost her brother, mother and one of her sisters in the camp — told CBS.
This year, TikTok itself is working to educate users on the truths of the Holocaust, too.
“Education is one of the most powerful ways to counter hate,” the company said in a news release. “So to mark this year’s Holocaust Remembrance Day... we’re partnering with the World Jewish Congress (WJC) and UNESCO to provide our global community with easy access to educational resources all year round so they can learn more about the Holocaust, the Jewish community and antisemitism.”
This campaign includes permanent virtual banners and public service announcements on Holocaust-related searches and topics that will prompt users to visit a verified website with facts of the Holocaust.
The Holocaust was a mass genocide of European Jewish people by the Nazis during World War II. Over six million Jews — men, women and children — were killed between 1941 and 1945. Other minority groups such as gypsies, communists and gay men were also targeted by the Nazi regime, which was led by Adolf Hitler.
A 2020 survey of people ages 18 to 39 across the United States found 63% did not know six million Jews had been killed in the Holocaust — including 36% who believed no more than two million had died.
Forty-nine percent reported seeing misinformation about the Holocaust online, the survey found, and 56% were unaware of what Auschwitz was.
But Ebert knows what she experienced.
Ebert and her great-grandson are working to tell viewers lesser-known details about the Holocaust.
One video discussing female Nazis killing children and babies in the concentration camps led to a discussion of how the “unthinkable” acts could ever be rationalized.
“How could these mothers go home and give food and bathe their own children and put them to bed?” Ebert asked. “And even make an evening meal. How is that possible?”