A Holocaust survivor has become a TikTok star at the age of 85 thanks to her teenage grandson.
From the family living room in Morristown, New Jersey, Aron Goodman, 17, records short videos of Tova Friedman reminiscing about life in 1944 and 1945 – when she was a six-year-old at the Auschwitz Nazi death camp.
She also discusses her experiences before and after the camp.
The pair say videos on her account have garnered 75 million views since they started posting in September 2021.
“And then we realised it was a fabulous medium for the Holocaust, for young people who don’t want to read the books, who don’t like the classes in school, who don’t like the way the teachers teach or whatever, who are bored with it or some who never heard of it.
“Here they are, listening.”
Aron said the duo’s most-viewed videos are “ones that show her number” — the identification tattooed on prisoners’ arms at Auschwitz.
“People around the world can’t really get the chance to see a survivor, to see the history on their arm,” he said.
“So social media and TikTok is the way we kind of impart our message and show the evidence of the Holocaust that people unrightfully deny.”
Aron said he makes the videos to counter antisemitic speech online and educate the TikTok generation about the horrors of the Holocaust.
“We need to focus on the history and warn people where hate can lead if it’s unchecked, if no one does anything about it,” the teenager said.
Another TikTok features black-and-white footage of Ms Friedman with other Jewish children in early 1945, as she pushes up her sleeve to show the tattooed number on her arm.
The film was shot by the Soviet military a week after they liberated the camp.
When Ms Friedman looks at the film, she remembers her mother, out of frame but nearby, who taught her how to survive in the camp by not making eye contact with the guards and hiding amid dead bodies.
Ms Friedman said people often ask how she could ever trust or love people after what she witnessed.
She said she saw many other Holocaust survivors who lost their families in the camps go on to remarry and have more children, which they called “replacement children” in those days.
“Life is resilient and you can live again,” said Ms Friedman, who works as a therapist and social worker and wrote a book about her experiences called The Daughter Of Auschwitz.
“This is what I’d like to let people know. It’s the hope that humanity can rebuild itself.”