Child Holocaust survivor becomes TikTok star
Holocaust survivor Tova Friedman is a TikTok star at age 85, thanks to her 17-year-old grandson Aron Goodman.
In the family living room in Morristown, New Jersey, he records and posts short videos of his grandmother’s reminiscences of her life in 1944 and 1945 as a six-year-old child at Auschwitz, the Nazi extermination camp in Poland. And her experiences before and after the concentration camp.
Videos on her account at www.tiktok.com/@tovafriedman have garnered 75 million views since the duo started posting them in 2021.
“It really snowballed,” said Friedman. “And then we realized 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 (on TikTok) they are listening.”
“The most viewed videos are ones that show her number,” said Goodman, referring to the serial number the Nazis would tattoo on prisoners’ arms at the death camp. “Because people around the world can’t really get the chance to see a survivor to to to see the history on their arm…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.”
Goodman said he creates and posts the video to counter antisemitic speech online and to educate the TikTok generation about the horrors of the Holocaust.
“If there’s no education about right from wrong,” said Goodman, currently in high school. “Then that can lead to a genocide or more hatred and violence against Jews and people in general. So really we need to focus on on the history and warn people where hate can lead if it’s unchecked, if no one does anything about it.”
Another TikTok features film of Friedman as a six-year-old gathered with other Jewish children and showing the tattoo on her arm. The film was shot by the Soviet military a week after they liberated the camp.
When Friedman looks at the film, she remembers her mother, out of frame but nearby, who she credits with teaching her how to survive the concentration camp by not making eye contact and hiding amid dead bodies, but who fell into despair after the war and died in her mid-40s.
“I think what we have learn from this is the resiliency of human nature, maybe we were made like this,” said Friedman, who still works as a therapist and social worker and has written a book about her experiences, titled “The Daughter of Auschwitz.”