Holocaust Memorial Day 2022 on Social Media

Hashtag We Remember with a candle

If the core logics of social media are the sharing economy and the attention economy, it is significant to study what content has the most interactions and shares on Holocaust Memorial Day, if we are to understand the spreadability of awareness campaigns.

In our first post of 2022, we offer some very early findings regarding popular social media content this Holocaust Memorial Day.

Holocaust Memorial Day and Social Media

Since the UN Resolution 60/7 in 2005, the 27th January has been recognised internationally as Holocaust Memorial Day. This date commemorates the liberation of Auschwitz by the Soviet forces in 1945, but is used to reflect on all Holocaust victims and in some cases (such as in the UK), genocide victims more broadly.

The Holocaust Memorial Day Trust (HMDT) in the UK run a major national campaign, supporting commemorations with resources and making visible the vast range of local and national level events. This year’s theme was Light in the Darkness.

More internationally, in 2022, UNESCO and the World Jewish Congress worked with major social media platforms, such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and TikTok through advertising grants to highlight content related to their #WeRemember campaign. You can hear representatives from UNESCO and the WJC talk more about the project at a recent UN Civil Society Briefing here.

The significance that social media plays in public memory and understanding of the Holocaust has in recent years been taken more seriously, as the significance of online distortion and denial has been recognised. As early as 2014, The International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance published guidelines for Holocaust Educators using social media. Nevertheless, there is still evidently a deficit in digital literacies and capacities in Holocaust education and memory contexts.


It was possible to collect an internationally-relevant sample of posts from Facebook, Instagram and Twitter through researcher access to their APIs: CrowdTangle for the Meta-owned platforms and then Twitter’s API 2.0 for the latter.

We combined our own knowledge of common phrases used for Holocaust remembrance, such as #NeverForget and #NeverAgain with terms we found used on posts by official memory organisations and users from an initial manually look on social media on the day. We also added the UNESCO/WJC campaign #WeRemember.

We then collected posts using the following hashtags:

  • #HMD / #HMD2022
  • #HolocaustRemembranceDay /#HolocaustRemembranceDay2022
  • #HolocaustMemorialDay / #HolocaustMemorialDay2022
  • #NeverAgain
  • #NeverForget
  • #WeRemember

The time period set for collection was Wednesday 26th January 12pm – Friday 28th January 12pm UTC, to enable capture of tweets from across time zones.

We combined the produced .csv files for each platform and removed duplicates of posts which used more than one of these hashtags.

For these initial findings, we simply used the ‘sort’ function to get top results of Total Interactions (Facebook/Instagram) and Retweets (Twitter).

It is important to note the limitations of institutional APIs: Facebook/Instagram only give access to public profile posts (and public groups, but we focused on the former here) and Twitter only gives access to public tweets.

TikTok does not yet give researchers access to its API, therefore a different – manual – methodology would be needed here. There are plans for a future post about Holocaust Memorial Day on TikTok, but given the different approach needed, we’ve left it out of this piece.

What Did We Find?

Each platform presented different results in terms of its top posts. For the sake of brevity here, we present the top 5 on each site.


The top 5 on Facebook is dominated by normative ideological engagement with Holocaust memory, either situating it within religious rhetoric, military contextualisation (both the allied saviour narrative and connecting it with the need for Israeli defence) or the presentation of a Political figure (Dr. Biden) partaking in commemoration. The only post which resists this is that by American-Jewish actress Mayim Bailik sharing a #WeRemember banner.

The difference in total interactions between Franklin Graham’s post at no.1 and Mayim Bailik’s at no.2 is more than double. The top post, by an American evangelist and missionary sharing a story from Fox News is almost as popular on its own as the next 3 posts combined. When the posts were sorted by ‘angry face’ responses, Graham’s appeared 2nd on the list, suggesting controversy still rules on Facebook (even though the post itself is not controversial).

Looking at the wider data set, the only memorial museums, sites or Holocaust education organisations to feature in the top 20 are Museum of Jewish Heritage – A Living Memorial to the Holocaust (no. 7), the Anne Frank House (no. 8 and 9), and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (no. 20).


In contrast with Facebook, the top 5 on Instagram is dominated by celebrities. Mayim and Dr. Biden both surfaced in this list as well as on Facebook. Performers and a German football team actively show their support for the #WeRemember campaign here. In place #4 and #5 are more political posts: both Biden’s and one from Tom Morello, renown for political activism in his music and words. The ‘Nazi Lives Don’t Matter’ banner in the background of his image, however, seems controversial both in being implicitly a call to violence, and in appropriating a specific campaign #BlackLivesMatter for a commemoration event concerned with different histories. Nazi persecution indeed affected Black Germans, however this particular group in that specific historical time is not the focus of the Black Lives Matter movement.

No Holocaust institutions feature in the top 20 posts on Instagram, with the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum appeared at no. 22. However, @Standwithus a non-profit organisation which describes itself as ‘Fighting Antisemitism and Supporting Israel Around the World’ has posts at #12 and #15.

Popular rhetoric on Instagram on Holocaust Memorial Day seems far more centred on activism and campaigns compared to Facebook, where the top posts are more commonly situated in normative ideological contexts.


Twitter is the one space where we do see major Holocaust organisations in the top 5. In the top 20, we see both HMD_UK (#16) and the USHMM again (#20) and the Auschwitz Memorial Museum (#11).

We again see some evidence of the politicisation of Holocaust memory here, although only one post.

We have the same number of posts appearing from Holocaust organisations as we do from more minor public figures: Schler a cookbook and food writer with a new podcast, and Parnas, whose co-hosted podcast has a modest 2,000+ followers on Twitter. Both individuals have substantial followers on Twitter, however, Schler (54.3K) and Parnas (173K).

There is so many much more to read in this rich data set. However, we hope that this brief and (almost) immediate post provides a first glimpse of the ways in which the affordances of these different social media platforms are used for Holocaust commemoration.

Published by Victoria Grace Walden

Senior Lecturer in Media at the University of Sussex. Dr Walden has written extensively about digital interventions in Holocaust and genocide memory. She is author of 'Cinematic Intermedialities and Contemporary Holocaust Memory', and editor of 'Digital Holocaust Memory, Education and Research' and 'The Memorial Museum in the Digital Age'. She is PI on the ESRC-funded 'Co-creating Recommendations for Digital Interventions in Holocaust Memory and Education', the HEIF-funded 'Dealing with Difficult Heritage', and the British Academy-funded 'Digital Holocaust Memory: Hyperconnective Museums and Archives of the Future'. She has served as an advisor or consultancy for numerous organisations, including the Imperial War Museums, the United Nations and UNESCO, and the Claims Conference.

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