A series of photomontages showing people striking poses, taking selfies and even juggling at the Holocaust memorial in Berlin before the background changes to show them posing amid piles of murdered victims have gone viral on the internet.
The creator, Shahak Shapira, said he produced the “Yolocaust” website after seeing thousands of selfies and other photographs of young, smiling people posing on the memorial to Europe’s six million murdered Jews on social media.
The website went live on Wednesday and was clicked on more than 500,000 times and shared at least 70,000 times on Facebook, Mr Shapira said.
After a few hours, the site collapsed because so many people were trying to access it, he said.
Mr Shapira, 28, a Berlin-based Israeli satirist and grandson of a Holocaust survivor, said the selfies did not disturb or upset him, but he thought it was “a shame that there are people who don’t care”.
“These people should be the ones to keep the memory of the Holocaust alive,” Mr Shapira said.
He picked the word “Yolocaust” because it combines Holocaust and “YOLO” – social media shorthand for “You only live once.”
The 11 colourful images of young people showing their prettiest smiles or posing with selfie sticks turn into a disturbing sight when the background suddenly fades.
Instead of the memorial’s tombstone-like slabs, the people are seen smiling against a black-and-white backdrop of starved and gassed bodies.
The Holocaust memorial, which is located in Berlin near the city’s landmark Brandenburg Gate, consists of thousands of concrete slabs installed as an uneven field, comparable to a gigantic graveyard.
It is one of the most-visited landmarks in the German capital.
Since its inauguration in 2004, hundreds of thousands have come to see it.
Critics have complained about some visitors jumping across the slabs and revellers from a nearby nightclub taking cigarette breaks inside the memorial, saying such behaviour trivialises the memory of the millions murdered.
Thank you for helping to make Jewish News the leading source of news and opinion for the UK Jewish community. Today we're asking for your invaluable help to continue putting our community first in everything we do.
Unlike other Jewish media, we do not charge for content. That won’t change. Because we are free, we rely on advertising to cover our costs. This vital lifeline, which has dropped in recent years, has fallen further due to coronavirus.
For as little as £5 a month you can help sustain the vital work we do in celebrating and standing up for Jewish life in Britain.
Jewish News holds our community together and keeps us connected. Like a synagogue, it’s where people turn to feel part of something bigger. It also proudly shows the rest of Britain the vibrancy and rich culture of modern Jewish life.
You can make a quick and easy one-off or monthly contribution of £5, £10, £20 or any other sum you’re comfortable with.
100% of your donation will help us continue celebrating our community, in all its dynamic diversity...
Being a community platform means so much more than producing a newspaper and website. One of our proudest roles is media partnering with our invaluable charities to amplify the outstanding work they do to help us all.
There’s no shortage of oys in the world but Jewish News takes every opportunity to celebrate the joys too, through projects like Night of Heroes, 40 Under 40 and other compelling countdowns that make the community kvell with pride.
In the first collaboration between media outlets from different faiths, Jewish News worked with British Muslim TV and Church Times to produce a list of young activists leading the way on interfaith understanding.
Royal Mail issued a stamp honouring Holocaust hero Sir Nicholas Winton after a Jewish News campaign attracted more than 100,000 backers. Jewish Newsalso produces special editions of the paper highlighting pressing issues including mental health and Holocaust remembrance.
In an age when news is readily accessible, Jewish News provides high-quality content free online and offline, removing any financial barriers to connecting people.
Voice of our community to wider society
The Jewish News team regularly appears on TV, radio and on the pages of the national press to comment on stories about the Jewish community. Easy access to the paper on the streets of London also means Jewish News provides an invaluable window into the community for the country at large.
We hope you agree all this is worth preserving.