Using TikTok for Learning and Communication



When the “POV Holocaust Challenge” drew attention to the young short video platform TikTok and its content creators in 2020, interest was also aroused by memorials and institutions that deal with the topic of National Socialism and forms of remembrance in and on this platform.

One of the results: After ten years of experience in social media, the Neuengamme Concentration Camp Memorial has also been communicating on TikTok since the end of 2021. Within two months, over 10,000 people followed the account even without buying followers. The most popular video has been viewed over half a million times. Each video is commented on – up to 350 times. On no other social media platform of the memorial are so many people reached and the community is similarly active.

With the account, the memorial wants to reach, inform, sensitize, raise awareness, increase the visibility and relevance of the topic of National Socialism in “Generation Z” and, last but not least, strengthen the awareness of the Neuengamme Concentration Camp Memorial. The memorial uses TikTok to give young people a framework for reflection.

In order to reach adolescents and young adults via this platform, it is important to deal with the visual and narrative language and the visual possibilities that the platform offers. TikTok can thus become a tool for digital storytelling and dialogue at eye level. Neuengamme uses an authentic, direct approach and posts personalized content. Young volunteers of the Action Reconciliation Service for Peace appear as communicating persons in front of the camera. They draw attention to objects or manageable topics and contextualize them.


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They answer questions with videos or ask questions to the community themselves. The starting point for the content of the short videos is the question of what the community already knows (basic information) and where it can be surprising (“untold stories”). Where is the interest? In addition, the Content Memorial entered into cooperation with a successful content creator and the Young Committee of the Amicale Internationale KZ Neuengamme.

The memorial received helpful support for the launch of the account from the “Shoah Education and Commemoration Initiative” of the Hebrew University Jerusalem. In the training course, eleven institutions and memorial sites in Germany and Austria deal intensively with the possibilities and challenges of using TikTok for remembering and learning about National Socialism and developed strategies for its use for (inter)active history mediation and new digital forms of remembrance.

Those who receive a lot of attention also receive it from other sides: the memorial is confronted with comments that deny and relativize the Holocaust and make racist and anti-Semitic remarks. Constant monitoring and the use of filters are essential to provide followers with a safe experience.

The goal is to build a long-term community. The memorial wants to reach young people in a contemporary way and be actively visible in the digital world. The challenge is to find an appropriate, concise and at the same time accepted form of communication in the community.