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98-year-old Holocaust survivor shares her life story with younger generations through TikTok
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98-year-old Holocaust survivor shares her life story with younger generations through TikTok

'It is a miracle that I am here. But I promised myself, however long I will be alive, and whatever I will do in life, one thing is sure, I will tell my story.'

Cover Image Source: TikTok/lilyebert
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Around 77 years ago, Lily Ebert made herself a promise: She would spend the rest of her life telling the harrowing tale of surviving the Holocaust. A couple of years ago, she found an unlikely platform to speak her truth when her 18-year-old great-grandson, Dov Forman, suggested that she start making TikTok videos. "I said to my great-grandmother, 'If they can go viral for dancing, why can't we go viral for sharing these really important messages?'" the youngster told CBS News. Today, Ebert has over 1.6 million followers and more than 23 million likes for videos sharing her stories of Auschwitz and survival.

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"I was really not sure that I would stay alive. It is a miracle that I am here. But I promised myself, however long I will be alive, and whatever I will do in life, one thing is sure, I will tell my story," Ebert said. The now-98-year-old arrived at Auschwitz at the age of 20. At the concentration camp, she was almost immediately separated from her mother, her brother and one of her sisters who were all taken away to the gas chambers that very afternoon. "What really happened in our darkest moment, we wouldn't think of that," Ebert shared. "It was not in our mind that something like that can happen."

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Although one might think the horrors of the Holocaust might be too heavy for a platform like TikTok, Ebert and Forman—who began making videos for TikTok during the COVID-19 lockdown of 2020—have proven otherwise. In one of the first videos she shared, Ebert stressed the importance of being able to share her own experience. "I want to tell you about my story because in a few years' time I won't be able to. It will become a history," she said. 

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@lilyebert At 9️⃣8️⃣, Lily continues to educate about the Holocaust to ensure that it never happens again! ❤️ #learnontitkok #neverforget #strongwoman #survivor #holocaustsurvivor #98yearold #greatgrandma #jewish #hungarian #germany #inspirational #askontiktok #viral ♬ Inspirational Piano - AShamaluevMusic

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@lilyebert Follow me to learn more about my story of surviving the Holocaust and Auschwitz. #survivor #fyp #foryou #holocaust #education #greatgrandma #history ♬ original sound - Lily Ebert & Dov Forman

 

"I was in Auschwitz for four months. Four months in a death camp. People would say, 'Four months is not so long.' But I will tell you something... even four months was too long," she said in another. Painting a horrifying picture of the atrocities that took place at the camp, Ebert shared in another video that "in Auschwitz you were not afraid of death, you were afraid to live." She has also opened up about her liberation experience on January 27, 1945, with her TikTok followers. When asked about the first thing she did afterward, she said: "I lay down on the floor and fell asleep. I am sure a few people went to eat something because we were very hungry, but I was so tired because we could not sleep [in the camp], so I went straight to sleep."

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One particular story that had followers intrigued was that of an American GI Ebert met after Auschwitz was liberated who wrote a message for her on a German banknote. "He wrote me, 'Good life, good luck for your future,'" she shared. Without much more than the banknote to go on, Forman decided to track down the soldier who had made a profound impact on his great-grandmother's life. "I remember joking with my great-grandmother that I would be able to find the soldier in 24 hours," he said. "I posted it, and within eight hours I had, I think, 8,000 notifications and the tweets had 2 million views. And an hour later we had managed to find the soldier."

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They soon learned that the soldier's name was Private Hyman Shulman, from Brooklyn, and that he had passed away in 2013. However, they were able to set up a Zoom call with his son, Jason Shulman. "Quite honestly, that I thought at first that this was a scam of some sort, and yet when I looked at the banknote there, it said something like 'good luck and happiness' and there in Hebrew lettering was my father's Hebrew name, first and middle name," Jason revealed. "After I got over my distrust and realized something real was going on, it really did give me the chills." Ebert credits that little note for restoring her faith in humanity. 

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