According to a new survey on Wednesday, nearly two-thirds of young American adults are not aware that 6 million Jewish victims died during the Holocaust in World War II — and some even believe they themselves are responsible for the genocide.
The study was commissioned by the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany, also known as the Claims Conference.
According to the results of the Millennial Holocaust Knowledge and Awareness Survey, 63% of young adults in the United States aren’t aware of the death toll of the Holocaust.
The poll is a state-by-state snapshot on how millennials and Generation Z members understand the history of the Holocaust, now that there are fewer survivors to personally tell their stories.
The survey found that almost 50% of respondents reported seeing Holocaust denial or distortion posts on the Internet and social media — and that 11% believe Jewish followers were responsible for the mass extermination.
In New York state alone, that figure was almost 20%. The share was 16% in Louisiana, Tennessee and Montana and 15% in Arizona, Connecticut, Georgia, Nevada and New Mexico.
The Claims Conference said those statistics were “perhaps one of the most disturbing revelations of this survey.”
“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,” Claims Conference President Gideon Taylor said in a statement.
“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 survey said young adults knew the most about the Holocaust in Wisconsin, Minnesota, Massachusetts, Maine, Kansas, Nebraska, Pennsylvania, Idaho, Iowa and Montana — and the least in New York, Florida, Alaska, Delaware, Maryland, Georgia, Hawaii, Louisiana, Mississippi and Arkansas.
“Quality Holocaust education helps students think critically about how and why the Holocaust happened,” said Gretchen Skidmore, director of education initiatives at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum.
“The study of the Holocaust engages students in understanding the fragility of societies, the dangers of antisemitism and hatred, and the importance of promoting human dignity.”
The research analyzed 1,000 interviews with randomly selected U.S. adults between 18 and 39. The Claims Conference did not list a margin of error for the survey.
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