What would Sophie Scholl’s Instagram account look like? A question that SWR and BR found so exciting that they started the “IchbinSophieScholl” project on the stage between May 2021 and April 2022. Schul as an influencer, played by an actress, that’s the idea. Scholl’s path to resistance should be seen in what the creators called a “real-time simulation”. Insta-Scholl has amassed nearly 930 thousand followers at their wedding ceremonies. Now it turned out that the young people were hardly there. According to a study by Rheinisch-Westfälische Technische Hochschule Aachen (RWTH), “Even if a public service broadcaster changes the media platform in order to communicate history attractively, young people aged 14-19 hardly notice it.”
Christian Kochler, Head of Teaching and Research for Social Science Education at RWTH, surveyed 1,250 pupils from Bavaria, North Rhine-Westphalia and Saarland. Four out of five participants had an Instagram account, but the project was not well known among students. More than three-quarters of users have never heard of “IchbinSophieScholl”. Only 145 of the 1,250 students have clicked on the channel, most of them only once.
to fail? SWR doesn’t see it that way. “The fact that, according to the RWTH study, as far as it is already available, 23 percent of 13- to 19-year-olds knew the canal, roughly a quarter, we rate it as very successful,” the SWR reports. The project was mainly aimed at users between 18 and 24 years old, most of whom are women. About 23 percent of users belong to this core target group. The chain has been more successful with its neighboring 25- to 34-year-old target group, who account for about 45 percent.
Some were upset by the very free treatment of the historical Sophie Scholl
The Instagram project received a lot of media attention and won awards including the “Bunte New Faces Award” for the cast and crew. But there have been criticisms, too. The Anne Frank Educational Foundation, for example, said, “With a strong focus on White, Christian, and German resistance, the actual victims of National Socialist genocide and conquest inevitably recede into the background.” Jan Böhmermann also came in with a contribution from ZDF Royal Magazine To the conclusion: “Good faith, bad execution.” Historical societies and educational institutions were also disturbed by the excessive mishandling of historical facts. Quotes from “Insta-Scholl” do not always correspond to Sophie Scholl’s historical quotes.
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Of course, these fantasies become problematic at the latest when they are not recognized or identified as such. Here, Kochler’s study of the project does not give good marks: “Among the followers there are many non-critical voices who do not realize the imagination of the presentation.” Instagram is said to have a high level of credibility, and students have deliberately separated what’s on offer there from platforms like Netflix, where they expect fiction. This is why “one can show more clearly what is fiction and what is truth,” says Kochler.
At least 1,250 young people surveyed indicated their interest in similar projects featuring historical figures on social media. They suggested – in that order – as particularly interesting historical figures: Anne Frank, Adolf Hitler, Julius Caesar.