The 18th World Congress of Jewish Studies

From Video Testimony to Social Media: Digital Spaces as the Next Medium for Holocaust Memory

As our world becomes increasingly technological in nature, Holocaust memory and commemoration is likewise shifting to digital spaces, such as social media. This project argues that the surge of Holocaust survivor video testimony archives in the late twentieth century, which now present a canonized medium for Holocaust memory, was due in part to technological innovations of the time. Now, the increasing presence of Holocaust content within digital spaces—as technology advances in the new millennium—is arguably creating the next critical shift in the preservation of Holocaust memory. Reasonably, one might predict that in twenty years’ time, these digital spaces will be the dominate place of Holocaust memory given the digitization of oral and video archives; original/source documents and academic journals, texts, and other traditional sources; and the increasing online presence of museums and sites, such as Yad Vashem, Auschwitz-Birkenau, and the USHMM.

This project examines the Holocaust in digital art projects, such as the Eva’s Stories Instagram phenomenon and the Anne Frank video series which followed, to argue that just as video technology changed the way we preserved oral testimony, so the internet is now changing the way we preserve Holocaust memory. Building on the work of Victoria Walden and Jeffrey Schandler, among others, this paper argues that the internet, especially social media sites, offers a new space for Holocaust memory and commemoration, as well as a critical mode for engagement with younger generations. Additionally, this project will consider​ ​the much-discussed shift to a post-survivor world through a digitized lens, contending with questions regarding the veracity of memory, and the knowledge that, eventually, all new productions will be non-witness representations. Therefore, this thesis will articulate a trend within Holocaust commemoration in the new millennium and illustrate how these works use digital spaces to relate to the event in modernity. Consequently, the proposed project will further challenge and broaden the discourse surrounding the conventions and limitations of Holocaust representations and articulations of memory in the twenty-first century.