Survivor Gidon Lev Takes to TikTok to Combat Holocaust Trivialization and Antisemitism
One of the more disturbing aspects of the recent rise of the Holocaust trivialization trend is the fact that survivors of the Nazi genocide who are still alive must witness it.
Survivors know from firsthand experience that the unique horrors of the Holocaust — the systematic discrimination against and industrial-scale extermination of the Jewish people by Nazi Germany and its allies before and during World War II — can be compared to nothing else, and some are now speaking out, including 86-year-old Gidon Lev.
Lev — who has lived in Israel for nearly all his adult life — was born in Czechoslovakia, and survived four brutal years at the Theresienstadt concentration camp as a young boy, while most of his family members, including his father, perished in the Holocaust.
Last year, hoping to teach young people about the Holocaust and the dangers of antisemitism, Lev — who also co-authored a memoir two years ago titled The True Adventures of Gidon Lev: Rascal. Holocaust Survivor. Optimist. — began publishing videos on the TikTok social media platform. His posts have gone viral, garnering millions of views, and his account has more than 240,000 followers.
One issue Lev has addressed is the growing use of Holocaust symbols and terms by critics of Covid-19 pandemic-related health measures enacted by governments.
Earlier this month, responding to a video posted by a TikToker — who displayed a shaved head and described the look as “First day at an unvaccinated camp” — Lev said, “Shame on you. Are you trying to look like a Holocaust survivor because you don’t want to be vaccinated?”
“I was four years in a concentration camp,” he added, before holding up a “Judenstern” yellow Star of David. “Here, I wore this star. Do you want me to help you? Have the day you deserve.”
@thetrueadventures #duet with @Carollynn Xavier #holocaustsurvivor #stopantisemitism #foryoupage #fypシ #fyp #shoah #antivaxxer #comeon #notfunny ♬ GOOD VIBES – Ellen Once Again
In a different video on the same issue, Lev asks, “Who is peddling these distortions?! Antisemites obsessed with appropriation and fake oppression.”
@thetrueadventures #duet with @usmcangryveteran #swipeouthate #shoah #stopcomparing #Holocaustsurvivor #getvaccinated #jewishtiktok #heartbroken #lies ♬ Halo Theme (From “Halo”) – Arcade Player
Another manifestation of Holocaust trivialization are comparisons of Israel to Nazi Germany. In November, replying to a comment demanding Israel “Stop the Holocaust of Palestinian people,” Lev said, “Listen up. Statements like these minimize the Holocaust and sabotage and undermine the real conversations we need to have with the Palestinians about justice, rights, and politics.”
@thetrueadventures Reply to @876542_52987 #fyp #tiktokgrandpa #israel #israeltiktok #facts ♬ original sound – Gidon & Julie
Commenting on story in December about an elementary school teacher in Washington, D.C. forcing students to reenact scenes from the Holocaust, “I saw the news, and I cannot understand how you could put these eight-year-old children through such a horrible experience. It is so unnecessary, it is so terrible, how will they ever be able to cope with it? This is not the way to teach the Holocaust.”
@thetrueadventures #holocaustsurvivor @Daily Mail #foryoupage #fypシ #fyp #shoah #learnontiktok #dcschools #istandwithgidon #education #stopcomparing #tiktokgrandpa ♬ original sound – Gidon & Julie
Lev also educates people about the historical facts of the Holocaust. Replying to a comment asserting, “He was never at a camp unless he had the tattoo,” Lev said, “Sir, you better get your facts right. There was only one camp where they did tattooing, and that was Auschwitz. My father was there, B12156. He died on his way to Buchenwald.”
@thetrueadventures Reply to @jesseib2 #fypシ #shoah #holocaustsurvivor #really? #wow #stfu #tiktokgrandpa #jewishtiktok ♬ original sound – Gidon & Julie
Offering general messages of hope is another part of Lev’s mission, as seen below:
@thetrueadventures #fypシ #love #boostofhope #Fyp #tiktokgrandpa #hope #mystoryisyourstory #Fyp ♬ These Days – Nico
@thetrueadventures #holocaustsurvivor #swipeouthate #tiktok #foryoupage #fypシ #fyp #istandwithgidon #cancelhate #shoah #stopantisemitism #stophate #trolls ♬ Fight Song (In the Style of Rachel Platten) [Karaoke Version] – Instrumental King
As the number of Holocaust survivors dwindles, the urgency of hearing their stories and insights is only growing, to ensure the horrors of past are never repeated.
This is why it is so important for Lev and others like him to raise their voices and engage younger generations, passing down the lessons from their suffering and perseverance and inspiring them to fight dangerous contemporary trends, such as Holocaust trivialization and what it leads to — outright denial of the worst crime in human history.