What if there was Instagram in the Holocaust?

New project presents how life of 13-year-old girl would look during Holocaust if she could have recorded her personal story via social media

Mordechai Sones ,


On the upcoming Holocaust Memorial Day, Eva Hayman's diary will be exposed by way of a unique, intimate production of reconstructed photographs, actors, and hundreds of extras.

When the Nazis invaded Hungary in 1944, Eva Hayman was a 13-year-old girl. The things that occupied her until then were her family, her best friend, and young and exciting love. Like many girls her age, she documented her life and her thoughts in her diary.

On Holocaust Martyrs and Heroes Remembrance Day, decades after Eva committed her story in writing, her diary and life will again come alive in an original, Instagram film.

The Eva.Stories project, led by high-tech and media man Mati Kochavi, will provide an opportunity to experience the true story of a Jewish girl who lived through the Holocaust through stories. Millions around the world will be able to follow and experience the life of Eva Hayman during World War II, until her deportation to the Auschwitz death camp together with her grandparents.

"Only 2.7% of the discourse about the Holocaust in Europe and the United States comes from young people - a very significant decline compared to previous generations," says Mati Kochavi, who initiated, wrote, and directed the project as a whole together with his daughter Maya Kochavi. "In the digital era when the attention threshold drops and the excitement threshold rises, and against the background of the ever-diminishing number of survivors, there's a tremendous need to find new models of testimony and memory. Instagram is a narrative platform and like any media and content platform, it's possible to tell a story that's both deep and superficial. The idea of ​​the project is to use the social networks to create a new genre of memory, and we hope that through it we can bring viewers closer to Eva's life and to the depths of her soul."

The special project is based on a personal diary left behind by Eva, which was worked into a screenplay and produced with a team of about 400 production people, actors, and extras who reconstructed the girl's life. Shooting the Instagram film was held in Lvov, Ukraine, for which commando vehicles, trucks, tanks, motorcycles from the period, old train cars, and trained dogs were brought, along with hundreds of pieces of art, costumes, weapons, and military uniforms from warehouses and private collections.

For 24 hours, starting at 4:00 pm on Wednesday, May 1, Eva's Instagram page will feature dozens of video clips, stills, and various text fragments, through which every hour she exposes events that occurred in her life for the last months. From acquaintance with her family and friends, through the Nazi invasion of her city, the racial and ethnic laws, being uprooted from their home and moved to the ghetto, to the tremendous upheavals she experienced until she boarded the train to Auschwitz.

"The stories turn Eva from a nameless person into a dynamic and tangible figure that tells her life story and what's going on around her, just as millions of young people around the world today document their daily lives," said Maya Kochavi. "We've fallen in love with Eva, we read, researched, and studied her diary and her life for a long time and wondered how she would have told her story if she had in her hands the camera she so wanted. We hope that through the project we can understand and convey her experiences and feelings from her personal and intimate point of view, and thus also to illustrate the horrors of the Holocaust in a way that evokes identification and deep understanding."

As an independent public memory project, Eva.Stories' goal is to offer a relevant and innovative way to teach and preserve the memory of the Holocaust today, especially among young people, especially during a period of growing anti-Semitism and the ever-diminishing number of Holocaust survivors. The groundbreaking production was specially adapted for viewing through telephone screens and was taken entirely from the perspective of selfie and first person, as is characteristic of media on the Instagram social network.

The project has attracted dozens of influential people who, starting today, will follow Eva during Holocaust Remembrance Day. Among them: Lior Raz, Guy Pines, Shira Haas, Agam Rodberg, Ran Danker, Shlomi Shabat, Lee Biran, Tom Baum, Yuval Dayan, and others.

"Young Israelis are a major target audience for us, so we decided to launch the project in Israel and harness the local audience for the task of remembering," emphasized media and content man Yona Wiesenthal, who was in charge of running the project. "However, this is a project with international exposure potential and global relevance in that it appeals to a wide range of audiences in Europe and the United States."

"Eva wanted to be a press photographer in London, so we wanted to realize her dream 75 years after it was shattered in a moment," sums up Mati Kochavi. "We translated her diary into video, gave her a smartphone instead of a camera, published her writings on Instagram instead of the newspaper, and we brought her story first to Israel and later to London and the rest of the world."

One may enter and follow Eva.Stories when it comes up on Wednesday.