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Two-thirds of US millennials do not know what Auschwitz is

Only 5 to 6 per cent of US adults know Jewish people were killed in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, as well as Germany

Julie Zauzmer
Friday 13 April 2018 16:47 BST
Auschwitz was first introduced to hold Polish political prisoners
Auschwitz was first introduced to hold Polish political prisoners (AFP/Getty)

Two-thirds of American millennials cannot identify what Auschwitz is, according to a study released on Holocaust Memorial Day which found knowledge of the genocide that killed six million Jews during the Second World War is rapidly fading among US adults, especially those aged 18 to 34.

Twenty-two per cent of millennials said they haven’t heard of the Holocaust or are not sure whether they’ve heard of it – twice the percentage of US adults as a whole who said the same.

The study, conducted by the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany, interviewed 1,350 American adults in February.

Asked to identify what Auschwitz is, 41 per cent of American adults as a whole and 66 per cent of millennials could not come up with a correct response identifying it as a concentration camp or extermination camp.

The US Holocaust Memorial Museum says that at least 1.3 million people were deported to the camp, run by Nazi Germany in occupied Poland, from 1940 to 1945 and 1.1 million of them were killed. It was the largest concentration camp among many built by the Nazis during their campaign to wipe out the Jews and other groups.

The survey found a low awareness of nations other than Germany where the Holocaust occurred: just 5 to 6 per cent of US adults knew that Jews were killed in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, where 90 per cent of the local Jewish populations were murdered. Just 37 per cent of US adults knew that Jews from Poland were killed; Poland was home to 3.5 million Jewish Holocaust victims.

Respondents indicated much more awareness of modern day bias against Jews, with 68 per cent saying antisemitism is present in America today and 51 per cent saying there are “many” or “a great deal of” neo-Nazis in the United States today.

Despite the lack of historical knowledge, the survey found a desire for Holocaust education – 93 per cent said in response to a question towards the end of the survey that all students should learn about the Holocaust in school. Perhaps because respondents feel that lack of knowledge is a real threat to the future: 58 per cent said they believe something like the Holocaust could happen again.

The poll has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus three percentage points.

The Washington Post

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