98-year-old Lily Ebert has always considered it important to inform the world of the antisemitic atrocities she witnessed and experienced during the Holocaust. Having lost more than 100 relatives—including her mother, brother and sister—in the genocide, she has long strived to raise awareness about all that happened during that dark period of time in the hope that history won’t ever repeat itself. Her mission became all the more vital in recent years with the worrying rise of antisemitism and Holocaust denial, and Ebert needed a platform that could get her story to the masses. Her 18-year-old great-grandson.
While the Holocaust might seem too heavy a topic for the popular social media app, Ebert quickly found a large audience—1.7 million followers within a year of posting her first video—with whom she shares the horrors of the Jewish ghettos and Auschwitz, where she was imprisoned for four months. Success on TikTok brought more attention to her cause and even led to a book she co-authored with her great-grandson, titled “Lily’s Promise: How I Survived Auschwitz and Found the Strength to Live.” Due to release in May this year, the book features a foreword written by none other than Prince Charles himself.
Ebert is also one of the seven Holocaust survivors who were chosen to be a part of the Prince of Wales’ initiative to mark Holocaust Memorial Day this year. Charles, who is patron of the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust, commissioned seven acclaimed artists to create portraits of the seven survivors which are on display at an exhibition at Buckingham Palace from January 27 to February 13 and the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh from March 17 to June 6.
Ebert spoke of the “Seven Portraits: Surviving the Holocaust” exhibition and more during a recent appearance on Good Morning Britain along with Forman. One particular moment from the show made a great impact on viewers. When asked if she’s ever thought about removing the number Nazis tattooed into her forearm, Ebert said: “No, I have never thought about having it removed. I want to show the world. Seeing something or to hear about it, it makes a big difference. The world should know how deep they cut, how deep humans can go. The fellow humans give a tattoo. You are not a human, you were not Lily Ebert anymore, you were a number. You wear a tattoo, you wear a number. Not more, not less.”
“Another human can take away my humanity. They are not humans, not me,” she added. During her appearance on the show, Ebert also spoke about why she’s so passionate about telling people what had happened during the Holocaust. “My story today is never my story, it is the story really for the thousands, millions, who cannot talk. I am here to talk, I can do it because they are not here anymore. I have to do it, to talk about the millions who cannot talk anymore. They killed my mother, brother and sister and other millions of other innocent people,” she said.
In a video posted last week for International Holocaust Remembrance Day, Ebert and Forman made a brief but powerful speech about the Holocaust. “The Holocaust was the biggest crime against humanity,” Ebert said in the video, which has been viewed 1.2 million times in the past five days. “Never before were factories — factories — built for killing people. I was there in Auschwitz-Birkenau. I am a witness.” With his arm around his great-grandmother, Forman then implored their followers to “become Lily’s witness to the Holocaust,” because “when you listen to a witness you become a witness.” Ebert drove the message home, saying: “I am a witness and the world should never, ever forget the biggest crime against humanity.”