January 21, 2021

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The critics of Eva Stories are missing the point


Last week, a series of Instagram posts were released, showing what the Holocaust would have looked like from the perspective of a 13 year old girl of smartphones existed during World War II.

Called Eva Stories, is based on the diary of the real Eva Heyman, a 13 year old in Budapest who recorded her story in 1944.

The account gained a million subscribers in no time – and critics immediately slammed it. A Haaretz op-ed said “a fictitious Instagram account of a girl murdered in the Holocaust is not and cannot be a legitimate way” to teach today’s youth about the Holocaust. Others accused the posts of trivializing the Holocaust.

Here it is all together as a video.

The same criticisms of Eva Stories have been hurled at all other media that have tried to tackle the Holocaust – books, novels, plays, movies, miniseries, graphic novels, poetry, art. It is true that nothing can ever capture the horrors of the Holocaust – it is impossible. Even survivors only experienced a slice of the total horror.

All that can be done is to describe it as best as one can, and hope that the effort is serious and not trivializing it.

Eva Stories is powerful because it immediately allows you to connect to Eva as a real person, which she was. If it had been completely fictionalized it indeed could have been seen as a gimmick, but Eva Heyman’s real diary captured her crushes, her fun with friends, and the horror as her life fell apart over the course of only a few months. The Instagram version allows people to feel the immediacy and fear and helplessness felt by Jews.

Eva Stories is a worthwhile addition to the pantheon of Holocaust literature.

My only quibble is that the original diary is not easy to find for a reasonable price in book form, and I wish that the creators of this story had reissued the diary in a trade paperback to make it available to everyone.

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