The Auschwitz-Birkenau museum and memorial spoke out against a new trend on social media platform TikTok where users role-play as holocaust victims, in a statement released on Wednesday.
"The 'victims' trend on TikTok can be hurtful and offensive," said the museum at the site of the former Nazi-German death camp Auschwitz-Birkenau in a statement, adding that some of the videos trivialized history.
The museum was responding to a controversial point-of-view trend where users pretend to be Jewish WWII victims.
The short clips feature youths recounting how they died in the Holocaust. Some videos show people with fake bruises or wearing a striped inmate outfit or a yellow star patch used by the Nazis to mark Jews' clothes.
The videos sparked backlash from some Jewish TikTok users earlier this month.
Motivation behind trend is 'diverse'
The museum acknowledged there were diverse motivations behind the trend, including some made by people who wanted to "express personal memories."
However, "some were not created to commemorate anyone, but to become part of an online trend. This is very painful," stated the museum.
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The memorial called for more education and discussion about how to remember the Holocaust, instead of "shaming" young people.
The museum named historical context, factual accuracy and respect towards victims are important as important factors in commemoration.
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A site of learning
The museum and memorial was established in 1947 by the Polish parliament along with former concentration camp prisoners to commemorate the one million Jews and others killed at the camp between 1940 and 1945.
School and youth groups visit the former camp from all over the world for educational purposes. These were paused between mid-March and late June, due to the coronavirus pandemic.