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UK poll reveals striking ignorance of Holocaust
Poll shows more than 25 percent of youth do not know if the Holocaust happened; Jewish leaders alarmed

More than a quarter of young Britons do not know if the Holocaust happened, according to a poll on Friday that sparked alarm among Jewish leaders determined the world should not forget the Nazi genocide.

 

"This poll reinforces the necessity to observe the motto -- Never Again", said Winston Pickett, spokesman for the umbrella group, the Board of Deputies of British Jews.

 

The poll, conducted by The Jewish Chronicle to mark Holocaust Memorial Day, showed that 28 percent of 18 to 29-year-olds in Britain do not know if the Holocaust happened.

 

But teachers were given some comfort by the poll -- just one percent of those surveyed by YouGov pollsters thought the Holocaust was a myth.

 

By a majority of four-to-one they favoured Britain's decision to mark Holocaust Memorial Day every year on January 27, the day in 1945 when the advancing Russian army reached the Auschwitz concentration camp.

 

But only 16 percent of those polled felt that denying the Holocaust should be made a criminal offence in Britain.

 

They won backing from 85-year-old Auschwitz survivor Freddie Knoller who said: "We are in a country that has freedom of speech and I wouldn't like that to change."

 

But he did say that the figure demonstrating widespread ignorance of the Holocaust among young adults was "frightening. I lecture to schools, mostly to children over 16, but this makes me think I should concentrate on that group."

 

The Holocaust Educational Trust, which gives lessons in schools across Britain to inform the young about the Nazi genocide, said the survey gave cause for concern.

 

"It re-motivates, focuses and invigorates us at the trust to recognise our work is not done," executive director Karen Pollock told Reuters.

 

"Since the Holocaust, we have seen what happened in Kosovo, Rwanda, Cambodia and now Darfur," she said. "People have to apply the lessons of the past."

 

British Muslim leaders have in the past said they are unwilling to attend the annual commemorations, arguing that Holocaust Memorial Day should honour victims of genocide everywhere.

 

"We have misgivings about the name," said Inayat Bunglawala, spokesman for the Muslim Council of Britain.

 

"Our concern is that the day should be inclusive, as mass killing of any people, as happened in Rwanda and Bosnia, is unacceptable," he told Reuters.

 

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