Auschwitz Museum Calls TikTok Trend of Teens Role-Playing as Holocaust Victims 'Offensive'

Through the trend, users of the popular social media app talk about dying during the mass genocide as they wear striped uniforms reminiscent of those worn by concentration camp prisoners

Photo: Galerie Bilderwelt/Getty

The Auschwitz Museum is condemning a new TikTok trend in which teens role-play as victims of the Holocaust as "hurtful and offensive."

The museum's memorial site tweeted a statement on Wednesday, responding to the videos shared on the popular social media app, where certain users talk about dying during the mass genocide as they wear striped uniforms reminiscent of those worn by concentration camp prisoners, fake bruises or Star of David armbands.

"The 'victims' trend on TikTok can be hurtful & offensive. Some videos are dangerously close or already beyond the border of trivialization of history," the Auschwitz Museum tweeted, before adding that they did not want to shame the young people involved.

"But we should discuss this not to shame & attack young people whose motivation seem very diverse," the organization said. "It's an educational challenge."

The museum then attached a longer statement to their tweet, critiquing the role of social media in remembering the Holocaust, in which 6 million Jews were murdered by the Nazis.

"The stories of people who were imprisoned and murdered in Auschwitz are incredibly tragic, painful and emotional," the statement began. "It is crucial to share the individual stories to commemorate and educate. It's also important to place the stories within the context of accuracy and respect. We also need to remember about ethical challenges and psychological dangers of roleplaying while teaching about this history. While it is essential to use personal stories, we are not allowed to put people in a victim's position."

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They continued, "The trend visible on TikTok can be indeed hurtful and even considered offensive. Some of the examples online are dangerously close or are already beyond the border of trivialization of history and being disrespectful to the victims. Some were not created to commemorate anyone, but to become part of an online trend. This is very painful."

The organization went on to say that because social media is "part of our everyday lives and communication," people "should continuously raise awareness that not every social media activity can commemorate the Holocaust."

The statement concluded by calling out dangerous algorithms "promoting antisemitism or the presence of Holocaust denial that is a dangerous & hidden character of antisemitism & hatred."

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A rep for the social media app told The New York Post on Thursday that they have been "redirecting searches for the videos, which users were posting with the hashtag #holocaustchallenge."

"We do not condone content like this and are redirecting searches for it to our Community Guidelines to further educate users about our policies and the supportive, inclusive community we are working to foster on TikTok," a spokesman for the company told the outlet.

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