22% of young Americans have never heard of the Holocaust
New survey carried out by Claims Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany, and published on Holocaust Memorial Day, finds 41% of people in US aged 18-24 believe 2 million Jews were killed in the Holocaust, while 58% of those polled said it could happen again; 'imagine when there are no longer survivors here to tell their stories.'
Fifty-eight percent of the 1,350 people polled said that they believed that another Holocaust could take place again in the future.
The poll, entitled “National Survey of Holocaust Awareness and Knowledge Among Adults in the United States”, which was carried out by the Claims Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany (Claims Conference), also examined the general knowledge of the participants on a variety of other issues about the Holocaust.
Twenty-two percent of people aged 18-24 said they have never heard of the Holocaust, while 11 percent of 25-34 year olds said they were unfamiliar with it.
Moreover, the poll, which was conducted by a combination of Holocaust survivors as well as representatives from museums, educational institutions, and leading nonprofits in the field of Holocaust education, highlighted a distinction between the age groups regarding knowledge on how many Jews were murdered in the Holocaust.
Forty-one percent of the youths, for example, thought that fewer than two million Jews were murdered, while 31% of the adults believed the same thing.
While there were over 40,000 concentration camps and ghettos in Europe during the Holocaust, the Claims Conference website notes, “almost half of Americans (45 percent) cannot name a single one—and this percentage is even higher amongst Millennials."
On the other hand, 94% of all of the people polled said that Jews were the victims of the Holocaust.
There were other rays of hope in the survey findings. “More than nine out of ten respondents (93 percent) believe all students should learn about the Holocaust in school,” the poll says. “Eight out of ten respondents (80 percent) say it is important to keep teaching about the Holocaust so it does not happen again.”
The survey also examined knowledge of some of the central figures identified with the Holocaust and World War II. 15% had never heard of Anne Frank, a German-born diarist who was eventually captured by the Nazis as a little girl while in hiding and killed in the Final Solution.
Forty-four percent had never heard of Oskar Schindler, a German industrialist who saved over 1,000 Jews, and 54% had never heard of Eli Wiesel, a Romanian-born Holocaust survivor who went on to become a writer, professor, political activist and Nobel Laureate. 44% percent also did not know who headed the Nazi SS, Heinrich Himmler.
Claims Conference President Julius Berman said that the findings were alarming.
“On the occasion of Yom HaShoah (Holocaust Remembrance Day), it is vital to open a dialogue on the state of Holocaust awareness so that the lessons learned inform the next generation,” Berman said. “We are alarmed that today’s generation lacks some of the basic knowledge about these atrocities.”
Greg Shneider, Executive Vice President of the Claims Conference, said that the statistics highlighted the importance of teaching about the Holocaust in schools.
“This study underscores the importance of Holocaust education in our schools,” he said. “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.”