Eva Stories, an innovative project using modern social media to reenact the experiences of a 13-year-old Jewish girl in Nazi-era Hungary, has received the recognition of the International Academy of Sciences and Digital Art which honored it with two Webby Awards.
The awards, often referred to as the “Oscars of the Internet”, are given each year to projects that have excelled in the online sphere in various categories. Eva Stories, authored by tech billionaire Mati Kochavi and his daughter Maya Kochavi, won the Webbys for Best Use of Social Media and Best Use of Stories.
Opening with a question, “What if a girl in the Holocaust had Instagram”, the project’s trailer hints at what the story is really about – the experiences of a Jewish teenage girl during the World War Two as if recorded by a smartphone and published on her Instagram profile as stories.
The project is based on a tragic story of Eva Heyman, a Hungarian Jewish girl who kept a diary of the contemporary events and her experiences during the Nazi era, much like the one by Anne Frank.
Eva Stories was re-enacted by real actors and its Instagram profile looks as genuine as any modern-day teenager’s, accompanied by selfies and photographs of other people in Eva’s life.
Even though it caused a bit of controversy, with some critics denouncing it as a trivialization of the Holocaust and “a display of bad taste” (like the Haaretz newspaper’s Yuval Mendelson), the project attracted an immense following.
A significant portion of its Instagram audience, counting more than 1.3 million followers, consists of young people (13-30 years old). Despite the negative criticism, the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial Museum praised the project and the use of social media platforms to commemorate the Holocaust victims.
Eva Heyman was one of the roughly 568,000 Hungarian Jews murdered in the Holocaust. She was born in the city of Nagyvárad (Oradea) in northern Transylvania which, at the time, was under the Hungarian rule. Eva, alongside her grandparents, was murdered in the Auschwitz concentration camp in October 1944.