- The Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany, a Jewish organisation, conducted a survey asking 11,000 young adults across every US state of their knowledge about the Holocaust.
- The survey found that 23% of respondents said they believed the Holocaust was a myth (3%), that the number of Jewish deaths was exaggerated (12%), or that they were not sure about their views on the Holocaust (8%).
- Five per cent of respondents said they had “definitely have not heard” of the Holocaust, while 7% said they “don’t think” they had heard of it.
- The president of the group that commissioned the survey said the results were “both shocking and saddening” and were a “wake-up call” in underscoring the need for Holocaust education.
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A new survey of young adults in all 50 states found that almost two-thirds could not approximate how many Jews were murdered during the Holocaust and that relatively large numbers lacked other basic knowledge about the World War II genocide.
The survey was commissioned by the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany, a Jewish organisation also known as the Claims Conference, and conducted by Schoen Cooperman Research on 11,000 people ages 18 to 39. The results were gathered by phone and online, with a 1,000-person national sample as well as 200 interviews in each state.
The group said the survey also found the following results nationally:
- Five per cent of respondents said “no, I definitely have not heard about the Holocaust,” while 7% said “no, I don’t think I’ve heard about the Holocaust.”
- The vast majority of respondents (77%) agreed with the statement “The Holocaust happened, and the number of Jews who died in it have been fairly described,” but the remaining 23% said they believed the Holocaust was a myth (3%), that the number of Jewish deaths was “greatly exaggerated” (12%), or that they were not sure (8%).
- Forty-eight per cent of respondents could not name a single concentration camp, death camp, or ghetto that the Nazis established in Europe during the war. A plurality of respondents (44%) could name Auschwitz, with Dachau (6%) as the next most mentioned.
- In an open-ended question asking “Who or what do you think caused the Holocaust?” 11% of respondents mentioned “Jews,” though the full context of their answers was unclear. The most frequently mentioned words were “Adolf Hitler” (72%), “The Nazis” (62%), “Germany” (36%), and “World War I” (13%).
- In response to a multiple-choice question asking “approximately how many Jews were killed during the Holocaust,” 63% did not select the correct answer, which was 6 million. Thirty-six per cent guessed a number too low (ranging from 25,000 to 2 million), while 10% guessed the only option that was too high (20 million). Seventeen per cent were not sure.
Forty-nine per cent of respondents reported seeing posts denying or distorting the Holocaust online, the Claims Conference said, while 30% of respondents also said they had seen Nazi symbols on social media or in their community.
In response to the survey results, Gideon Taylor, the group’s president, said: “The results are both shocking and saddening and they underscore why we must act now while Holocaust survivors are still with us to voice their stories.
“We need to understand why we aren’t doing better in educating a younger generation about the Holocaust and the lessons of the past. This needs to serve as a wake-up call to us all, and as a road map of where government officials need to act.”
The group added in a statement: “The surprising state-by-state results highlight a worrying lack of basic Holocaust knowledge, a growing problem as fewer and fewer Holocaust survivors â€” eyewitnesses to a state-sponsored genocide â€” are alive to share the lessons of the Holocaust.”
Sixty-four per cent of respondents have said Holocaust education should be compulsory in school, according to the survey.
Greg Schneider, the group’s executive vice president, said of the survey respondents: “Not only was their overall lack of Holocaust knowledge troubling, but combined with the number of Millennials and Gen Z who have seen Holocaust denial on social media, it is clear that we must fight this distortion of history and do all we can to ensure that the social media giants stop allowing this harmful content on their platforms.”