Americans today have large gaps of knowledge or are ignorant to the history and consequences of the Holocaust, some 73 years since Nazi Germany’s atrocities became known to the world, according to a survey commissioned by a Jewish organization which works to compensate survivors.
The survey, conducted by Shoen Consulting on behalf of The Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany (Claims Conference) found that 11 percent of U.S. adults and 22 percent of millennials “haven’t heard” or “are not sure if they have heard of the Holocaust.”
It was released on Thursday — to coincide with Holocaust Remembrance Day — and is the anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising, as marked on the Hebrew calendar.
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At least 70 percent of those surveyed feel that “fewer people seem to care about the Holocaust as much as they used to” and 58 percent believe that “something like the Holocaust could happen again.”
Further, large numbers of respondents believe that there is anti-Semitism in the U.S. today (68 percent) and that there are many neo-Nazis in the U.S. (34 percent).
By the end of World War II, at least six million Jewish men, women and children had been systematically murdered by the Nazi regime and its collaborators across Europe. Yet education about the atrocities committed and the places they occurred are absent from many Americans understanding about this period of history, the survey found.
Of those aware of the Holocaust, one third of all Americans and over four in 10 millennials believe that only two million Jews or less were killed.
While 84 percent responded that they knew the Holocaust occurred in Germany, only 37 percent identified Poland as a country where Jews were also killed.
Auschwitz-Birkenau, one of the largest of 40 concentration camps that held Jewish prisoners, is located just outside of Krakow, Poland. Over one million Jews were killed or died at the camp in addition to tens of thousands from other minority groups, including Polish citizens, Roma, Soviet prisoners, homosexuals and the disabled.
Two-thirds of millennials (66 percent) can’t identify what Auschwitz is, according to the survey.
“This study underscores the importance of Holocaust education in our schools,” Greg Schneider, Executive Vice President of the Claims Conference, said in a statement.
“There remain troubling gaps in Holocaust awareness while survivors are still with us; imagine when there are no longer survivors here to tell their stories. We must be committed to ensuring the horrors of the Holocaust and the memory of those who suffered so greatly are remembered, told and taught by future generations.”
The survey also found that a large majority of Americans have little to no connection to the Holocaust — with 80 percent never having visited a Holocaust museum and 66 percent not knowing or knowing of a survivor.
“On the occasion of Yom HaShoah, it is vital to open a dialogue on the state of Holocaust awareness so that the lessons learned inform the next generation,” Claims Conference President Julius Berman said in a statement. “We are alarmed that today’s generation lacks some of the basic knowledge about these atrocities.”
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