Nearly two-thirds of U.S. young adults were unaware that six million Jews were killed during the Holocaust, according to a survey released Wednesday.
A study conducted by the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany (Claims Conference) among American Millenial and Gen Z adults aged between 18 and 39, found that 36% of those surveyed said that they thought that “two million or fewer Jews” were killed during the Holocaust.
The survey also found that nearly half (48%) were unable to name at least one concentration camp or ghetto established by the Nazis and their collaborators during World War II.
Approximately half (49%) said they had seen Holocaust denial or distortion posts on social media or elsewhere online, with 56% saying they saw Nazi imagery on their social media and/or their local communities.
Eleven percent of respondents across the U.S. believed that Jews had caused the Holocaust.
However, almost two-thirds (64%) of American millennial and Gen Z adults believe Holocaust education should be compulsory in schools. Seven out of 10 said it was not acceptable for an individual to hold neo-Nazi views.
“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,” said Gideon Taylor, president of Claims Conference.
“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 calculated the young adults' Holocaust “knowledge score” by measuring three criteria: have “definitively heard about the Holocaust,” can name at least one concentration camp, death camp, or ghetto and know that 6 million Jews were killed in the Holocaust.
The states with the highest Holocaust Knowledge Scores were Wisconsin, Minnesota, Massachusetts, Maine, Kansas, Nebraska, Pennsylvania, Idaho, Iowa, and Montana.
The states with the lowest Holocaust Knowledge Scores were Alaska, Delaware, Maryland, New York, Georgia, Hawaii, Louisiana, Florida, Mississippi, and Arkansas.
Claims Conference Executive Vice President Greg Schneider said of the survey: “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. Survivors lost their families, friends, homes and communities; we cannot deny their history.”
The survey's data came from 1,000 interviews, 200 in each state, targeting a random and demographically representative sample of respondents aged 18 to 39 through phone and online interviews.