A 98-year-old Holocaust survivor has kept her promise to tell her survival story and she’s doing it in a very modern way – through TikTok.
When Lily Ebert made it out of Auschwitz alive, she swore to herself she would spend the remainder of her life ensuring her story was heard. At 98 years old, Ebert’s story has found an audience on the popular video sharing platform, TikTok.
@lilyebert "A number. That is what you are. I don't want to hide it. I want to tell the world how deep people can go." #learnontiktok #holocaustsurvivor #share #holocaustmemorialday #survivor #98yearold #strongwoman #tiktokgrandma #neverforget #history #tattoo #hell #viral #education #changingtheworld ♬ original sound – Lily Ebert & Dov Forman
Ebert was 20 years old when she arrived with her family at the Auschwitz concentration camp. The guards took her mother, brother, and one of her sisters to the gas chambers that same day. It was a horrific time she knew she would have to show the world later in life.
Dov Forman, Ebert’s 18-year-old great-grandson, created and helps run the TikTok account for her to divulge her shocking life story.
@lilyebert 3️⃣ questions, answered by a #holocaustsurvivor 🥰 #97yearold #socute #learnontiktok #questions #askmeanything #love #history #neverforget #oldtok #fy ♬ The Magic Bomb (Questions I Get Asked) [Extended Mix] – Hoàng Read
“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?’“
In one of her first videos on the platform, Ebert made it clear how important it is for her to share her experiences.
“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.
Today, the start of the 3 weeks mourning in Judaism, is the 76th anniversary of when my great Grandma arrived at #Auschwitz.
‘I arrived at the gates of hell. A place out of this world, I can’t describe the indescribable’.
Her Mother, brother + sister were murdered on arrival. pic.twitter.com/s007x6vRUm
— Dov Forman (@DovForman) July 9, 2020
Ebert has gained a following of over 1.6 million users, who have chosen to educate themselves on the Holocaust, through her stories of survival.
“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 one video, adding in another, “In Auschwitz you were not afraid of death, you were afraid to live.”
Tonight, on #YomHaShoah my great Grandmother, Lily Ebert BEM (97-year-old Auschwitz survivor) and I, light a candle to remember all those who perished during the Holocaust under Nazi persecution.@YellowCandleUK #NeverForget #YellowCandle pic.twitter.com/gTNPwr2Kqd
— Dov Forman (@DovForman) April 7, 2021
Ebert has also opened up about the joyous relief she felt on January 27, 1945, the day she was liberated from Auschwitz.
One of the American soldiers who aided the liberation efforts spoke to Ebert that day and wrote her a message on a German banknote. The message read: ‘Good life, good luck for your future”.
Yesterday my great Grandma (Lily Ebert – an Auschwitz survivor) showed me this bank note- given to her as a gift by a soldier who liberated her. Inscribed, it says “a start to a new life. Good luck and happiness”. Later on, she met up with those who freed her (third photo). pic.twitter.com/LAx2ZGFCnH
— Dov Forman (@DovForman) July 5, 2020
Ebert shared this story and banknote in a TikTok video. Dov had jokingly told his great-grandmother he’d be able to track down the soldier in a day. It took less than 12 for her followers to find him.
“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”, he said.
At long last Ebert learned the name of the man who had given her that piece of hope all those years ago. His name was Private Hyman Shulman of Brooklyn, New York. Although he had passed away in 2013, Ebert and Forman were able to speak with his son, Jason, over a Zoom call.
“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 Shulman said. “After I got over my distrust and realized something real was going on, it really did give me the chills.”
Ebert and Forman, who currently reside in London, wrote a book called “Lily’s Promise”, which features a foreword by Prince Charles.
Lily Ebert has stayed true to the promise she made to herself so long ago, “I thought single-handedly, I will tell my story and I will change the world”.