Survey: A ‘shocking and saddening’ lack of Holocaust knowledge among American young adults
New nationwide survey shows a quarter of millennial and Gen Z Americans don’t know whether the Holocaust was real
SALT LAKE CITY — The results are in. And it turns out American millennials and Generation Z know disturbingly little about the Holocaust.
In a new nationwide study of more than 10,000 Americans age 18 to 39 (200 randomly selected in each state), nearly two-thirds of respondents didn’t know 6 million Jews were killed during the Holocaust, 48% couldn’t name a single World War II-era concentration camp or ghetto, and more than 10% believed Jews themselves caused the Holocaust.
“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 the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany, which commissioned the survey. “We need to understand why we aren’t doing better in educating a younger generation about the Holocaust and the lessons of the past.”
The study, which is the first to get specific results on a state-by-state level, asked respondents a variety of questions about the Holocaust. A Holocaust “knowledge score” for each state was then calculated, based on the percentage of respondents who met all three of the following criteria: (1) have “Definitively heard about the Holocaust,” and (2) can name at least one concentration camp, death camp or ghetto, and (3) know that 6 million Jews were killed in the Holocaust.
Wisconsin’s Holocaust knowledge score was ranked the highest at 42%, and Arkansas was lowest at 17%. Utah, meanwhile had a 28% score (tied for 15th highest).
Here’s how Utah scored in various categories:
- Holocaust knowledge score: 28%.
- Can’t name a concentration camp or ghetto: 44%.
- Believe Jews caused the Holocaust: 8%.
- Did not know what Auschwitz was: 35%.
- Did not know 6 million Jews were killed in the Holocaust: 57%.
- Believe 2 million or fewer Jews were killed in the Holocaust: 26%.
- Have seen Holocaust denial or distortion on social media or elsewhere online: 49%.
- Have seen Nazi symbols in their community and/or on social media they have visited in the past five years: 52%.
- Believe it is important to continue teaching about the Holocaust, in part, so it doesn’t happen again: 82%.
Nationally, 44% could identify Auschwitz-Birkenau, the most notorious Jewish concentration camp, The Guardian reported. (There were more than 40,000 such camps and ghettos in Europe during the Holocaust.)
Of all respondents, 23% said they believed the Holocaust was a myth, had been exaggerated or they weren’t sure, while 12% said they definitely hadn’t heard or didn’t think they had heard of the Holocaust.
More than half (56%) claimed to have seen Nazi symbols on social media and/or in their communities. Forty-nine percent had seen Holocaust denial or distortion posts on social media or elsewhere online. And 59% said they believe something like Holocaust could happen again.
While the survey indicates a lack of Holocaust education in the U.S., respondents themselves don’t seem opposed to that education. CBS News reported that nationwide, 64% of respondents said they believed Holocaust education should be mandatory in schools. And approximately 70% said it wasn’t unacceptable for someone to hold neo-Nazi views.