“Hi, my name is Eva. Welcome to my page.”

With eight words, a young Jewish girl hooks you into her story. Eva Heyman welcomes you to her page with vlog-like videos, all-too-familiar Boomerangs, and hashtags. She films herself purposely bumping into her crush at an ice cream stand. Then, it cuts to clips of her dancing with friends and celebrating her thirteenth birthday at home with family. All appears to be well until a man crosses into her video during an outdoor photo shoot. The man is heard saying “Dirty Jew” while he spits on their feet. The music turns sinister as you begin seeing clips of Nazi soldiers riding on a tank through the streets of Eva’s town. Whispered conversations are recorded on Eva’s phone through cracked doors. The yellow stars appear on their clothing and soldiers are rooting through the family home, even dropping belongings out of the windows onto the street. The trailer ends with Eva stating with tear-filled eyes, “Starting today, I must document everything that happens to us.” This is The Girl with the Instagram. This is Eva’s story.

 

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Eva.Stories Official Trailer

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“Eva Stories” on Instagram is a series of 70 Instagram Stories saved as highlights. The page started publishing the stories on May 1st in honor of Holocaust Remembrance Day. The series is based on the diary of real-life Eva Heyman, a young Jewish girl in Hungary who was murdered in Auschwitz on October 17, 1944. According to the New York Times, the Holocaust came to Hungary “late and swiftly,” with only three months between occupation by the Nazis and deportation of its Jewish citizens to concentration camps. It was written and developed by Mati Kochavi and his daughter Maya and was filmed in Ukraine over three weeks.

The series has received both praise and criticism, but the praise heavily outweighs the criticism. In an interview with Haaretz, Mati says, “[The] Holocaust memory is a complex issue, but I think that a person is, among other things, a refinement of all the personal and collective memories he carries with him…The question is who you are and what load do you want to carry…I’m giving kids the choice of whether they want to see this story or not. We are telling a story and giving children access to it.” The previously mentioned article by the New York Times provides a statement from Yad Vashem, Israel’s official Holocaust memorial center, stating that while the center had no involvement with the production, they “believe that the use of social media platforms in order to commemorate the Holocaust is both legitimate and effective…”

I cried several times while watching this series. I don’t want to give away too many plot points, but during one of the first appearances by German soldiers, the look in Eva’s eyes had me in tears. The first-hand view of these videos allows you to connect with the characters on a personal level. I found myself watching Eva’s innocence slip away with every interaction. The March 31st story nearly wrecked me, when Eva discovers her mother has been forced to sew the familiar Star of David onto Eva’s favorite jacket.

While the series is incredibly sobering, it is one that everyone needs to watch. Follow the page on Instagram and take a bit of time to watch and digest the stories. Eva may have only kept the diary for a few short months, but her story will live forever on Instagram. Does this series fulfill her dream of becoming a photojournalist? Watch and decide for yourself.

Jillian K
CABINET