Instagram at Auschwitz: Has social media gone too far?

So Auschwitz has an Instagram account.  (And a Twitter account too.)

Who knew?

I found out about it after reading a post on a French blog, in which the writer, Klaire, was a bit taken aback by the juxtaposition of the latest Internet trend and the mass murder of millions of people.


Klaire, understandably, had some concerns about the wisdom of putting cool borders and funky filters on genocide.

Let me loosely translate a bit from her post:

I hesitated. I thought of the dead without filters. I thought of the raw horror of fear softened by a border. I thought of those who had their bodies and souls brutally stolen, without the benefit of sepia.  And I asked myself if we’re not at risk of losing the memory of the gross horror in a cloud of vintage effects and pretty crayon boxes.  I said to myself that a genocide perhaps shouldn’t be softened with a Polaroid mist.

She’s a good writer, it’s tough to translate, but I think you get the gist.

And she has a point.  There is something, at first glance, that makes you wonder if it’s entirely appropriate to ponder whether red or blue goes best with a Holocaust.

Having said that, I think the Instagram account, and the Auschwitz official Twitter account, do a great job of posting images that are quite poignant and educational.

Here’s a few of the Instagram photos:


And here are a few of the Twitter photos:



As a photographer myself, it’s an interesting question of how one photographs death and sorrow.  But I’d hope people are sensitive enough not to take “fun” photos at death camps in the first place, regardless of whether they then doctor their photos with Instagram or Hipstamatic.

(Then again, as a reader pointed out, some men are using Auschwitz as a background for their profile photos on an online pick-up app.)

And if they do use apps like that, they’ll probably use the effects in a way that adds to the emotion and mood of the moment, like this haunting photo from the Auschwitz account:

instagram-auschwitz-2And And in the end, this is how “the kids” communicate today.  And it’s far better for the lessons of history to keep up with the times, than be forgotten all together.

CyberDisobedience on Substack | @aravosis | Facebook | Instagram | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the Executive Editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown; and has worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, the United Nations Development Programme, and as a stringer for the Economist. He is a frequent TV pundit, having appeared on the O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline, AM Joy & Reliable Sources, among others. John lives in Washington, DC. .

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19 Responses to “Instagram at Auschwitz: Has social media gone too far?”

  1. Cynthia Southern says:

    media is an excellent way to teach about the Holocaust so it is never
    forgotten. Teach by any means necessary to reach the masses. The memorial pictured on the Salon article about the Grindr app is the Berlin Holocaust Memorial not the Auschwitz museum and memorial. I think using Holocaust memorials as a backdrop to this app is entirely inappropriate.

  2. Ford Prefect says:

    A filter is a tool, just like a lens or camera body. It performs an optical function that can be used for “fun” or “art” either way. The esthetics of a picture, on the other hand, are the function of the photographer. Are sepiatones from the Civil War or WW1 “fun” or “cool”? I’ve never thought so, but maybe I’m odd that way.

    I use filters, both physical and software, to get an esthetic I’m trying to create. Sometimes they’re fun and sometimes they are anything but fun. But the tools are the same in both cases.

  3. cole3244 says:


  4. ComradeRutherford says:

    Yes, Stalin and Hitler were opposite sides of the same coin.

  5. ComradeRutherford says:

    OK, just checking. Lots of people only count the Jews and ignore everyone else. For example I worked at a Jewish history center for two years and the ONLY person that mentioned that people other than Jews were persecuted during that time was Edwin Black, author of ‘IBM and the Holocaust’, because he had the physical proof of IBM technician’s mockups of punchcards that listed all those different classifications on it.

  6. My sense too

  7. A) As for “bias” in the article, most of my stories are opinion pieces, at best Economist-style. They all have bias :)

    B) I don’t know. We could use one of those ichat filters that puts funny hats on people visiting Auschwitz, and I think that might be more offensive. If you disagree, try it and post it :)

  8. cole3244 says:

    yes i do realize this but i still stand by my comment since the jews were the group targeted first by the nazi’s and were the ones hitler wanted to exterminate completely.

  9. koralroget7yq says:

    мy coυѕιɴ ιѕ мαĸιɴɢ $51/нoυr oɴlιɴe. υɴeмployed ғor α coυple oғ yeαrѕ αɴd prevιoυѕ yeαr ѕнe ɢoт α $1З619cнecĸ wιтн oɴlιɴe joв ғor α coυple oғ dαyѕ. ѕee мore αт…­ ­ViewMore——————————————&#46qr&#46net/kAgk

    How some douche nozzle chooses to manipulate their photos and education isn’t nearly as important as the stories that need to be told, and told with historical accuracy… and
    if being a part of social media is what gets one more person to educate themselves, I’m all for it.

  10. goulo says:

    The Nazis also targeted and killed many people simply because they were Esperanto speakers. (As did Stalin.)

  11. Anonymous says:

    I think the question is more “is it appropriate to interrupt a fun site with gravely serious images?” I think it is. It’s a way to get young people conscious, which isn’t done by reading assigned Holocaust stories for school and forgetting them.

  12. ComradeRutherford says:

    You do know that another 6 million non-Jews were also murdered by the Nazis, right? Non-Jews have just as much right to the Holocaust as do the Jews.

    Some of the other classifications on the IBM punchcards that the Nazis used to manage the death camps were: Trade Unionist, Communist, Homosexual, ‘Bible Student’ (Jehovah’s Witness), and (my favorite) Anti-Social. That last one was the one used to kill everyone that said, ‘Maybe Hitler isn’t the best thing for Germany…”

  13. VegasDave58 says:

    Really John?
    Adding sepia tones to a picture is what? A horror worse then the location the picture was taken? And the emphasis on “FUN” filters, are you not trying to put a bias in this article?

    The fact is there are many easily used programs aside from Instagram that can do the same thing. My only question is why this issue merits any time?

    What happened at Auschwitz was a horror by any standard, but so were horrors at various locations throughout the world. Do the same standards apply to a civil war battlefield? How about the the killing fields in Cambodia? For that matter, how about any number of crimes against humanity that have happened over the last three thousand years?

    Yeah, some really serious shit happened at Auschwitz, but does that mean adding filters to a picture you take should be considered irresponsible?

  14. BeccaM says:

    I took a look through the photos on both sites — Instagram and Twitter — and have to say I think they’ve done a fine job of expressing the material artistically and with dignity. What filters they use appear to be just for effect and I didn’t see a single instance that looked inappropriate or disrespectful.

    Whoever they have taking those photos and/or posting them knows what they’re doing.

  15. cole3244 says:

    i probably have more more issues with non jews sending back pictures then i do jews but to each their own i guess and as long as this horrible event isn’t forgotten is the best we can hope for.
    similar situations are happening on a smaller scale or have already taken place but the world will grieve those events years from now when the perpetrators will have escaped any penalties.

  16. As if the holocaust hasn’t been pimped out and exploited to the enth degree already?

  17. goulo says:

    Hmm… is it any different from publishing a well laid-out and graphically designed photographic album showing Auschwitz? (I assume that you’d not consider such a book to be controversial.)

    Or creating a website about it which uses its own site management software instead of an existing software solution like Instagram or Twitter?

  18. Indigo says:

    There has never been an educational tool that was not also the occasion of vandalism, misrepresentation, and stupidity. That’s humans for you.

  19. Naja pallida says:

    For the many, many people who will never get to travel to Auschwitz or Dachau, or any other former concentration camp, having easy access online as a sort of “virtual tourism”, to see what has been memorialized there, is an amazing thing. But I don’t think it can be fully appreciated unless you can see it in person. The generation who experienced the camps first-hand is quickly disappearing, and it isn’t going to be long before we’re left with only the memories they chose to record, and second hand recollections. As an amateur genealogist, I’ve found it all too common that history is horribly diluted with each generation. How some douche nozzle chooses to manipulate their photos and education isn’t nearly as important as the stories that need to be told, and told with historical accuracy… and
    if being a part of social media is what gets one more person to educate themselves, I’m all for it.

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