A newly-released video featuring a Holocaust survivor was flagged by social media giant YouTube as "inappropriate or offensive to some audiences." The nearly three-minute video, released on August 28, bore the designation for one week. Google, YouTube’s parent company, finally removed the label only after an official appeal and a press inquiry.
For decades, Holocaust survivor Irving Roth has shared his experiences for audiences of all ages and backgrounds, so the world will never forget what happened as a result of the Nazis’ “final solution.”
In April 1945, Roth walked out of the Auschwitz concentration camp. Upon his arrival the previous year, the teenager watched in horror as members of his family were marched into the gas chamber. When the Allies freed him, he was thankful that he would live to see his sixteenth birthday.
The video, produced by Christians United for Israel (CUFI), highlights Roth’s work with the largest pro-Israel organization in America. In the video, Roth is seen showing young people — mainly college students — the death camps in Poland.
"With the massive volume of videos on our platform, sometimes we make the wrong call on content that is flagged by our community,” said a YouTube spokesperson. “When this is brought to our attention, we review the content and take appropriate action, including restoring videos or channels that were mistakenly removed."
YouTube offered what they called “background information” — that the video was “mistakenly restricted due to human error” and “after reviewing the video again, the video has been reinstated with no restrictions.”
YouTube’s explanation did not sit well with the Auschwitz survivor.
“The only people who would object to this video are Holocaust deniers and other anti-Semites. If the staff at YouTube would like to understand a Survivor’s experience, I feel it would be my responsibility to make myself available to provide some insight,” Roth told the Haym Salomon Center.
While YouTube is known to place warning labels on videos that offer graphic and/ or violent images, the video in question, titled “Irving Roth, Holocaust Survivor- CUFI Story,” does not show any images that some might refer to as “gruesome” or “disturbing.”
On the contrary, video footage shows what the camps look like today, including the remaining ovens that were used to cremate bodies, as well as a pile of ash with the words “ashes of Holocaust victims” over the mound.
Hope Hernandez, CUFI’s Donor Engagement Coordinator, was a college student and a part of the CUFI on Campus program when she visited the death camps with Roth in 2009. Her experience as a young Christian visiting a concentration camp with a survivor is a main focus of the video.
“We are looking through rooms with piles of shoes and clothes and things that people arrived on trains with and they never left,” Hernandez explains in the video. “Irving is taking us through a room of ovens. We exit to a field where the bodies are buried, this mass grave of tens of thousands of people. This whole experience is really settling-in what took place here.”
Pastor John Hagee, founder and Chairman of CUFI, said, “I appreciate YouTube reinstating the video, but this should never have occurred. The matter begs the question, what gap in employee training allowed a video about a Holocaust survivor to be labeled offensive due to so-called human error?”
Paul Miller is president and executive director of the news and public policy group Haym Salomon Center. Follow him on twitter @pauliespoint.