Study finds major gaps in Holocaust knowledge among Americans

A study released on Thursday found critical gaps in knowledge of basic facts about the Holocaust among the US public, especially among young adults. Nevertheless, nearly all Americans surveyed expressed interest in receiving additional education about the topic.
Auschwitz Photo Credit: Ehud Amiton/TPS

As Israel is marking Yom Hashoah, the Remembrance Day commemorating the atrocities of the Holocaust, a study released on Thursday revealed the existence of critical gaps in knowledge on the subject among American adults. Among the notable results, the study found that over one-fifth (22%) of young Americans have never heard about the Holocaust or were unsure what it was.

The study was conducted by the Claims Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany, a body seeking restitution for Holocaust victims and their families.  According to the organization’s survey, nearly one-third of all Americans (31%) and more than 4-in-10 Millennials (41%) believe that two million or fewer Jews were murdered in the Holocaust.

The study also revealed that almost half of Americans (45%) cannot name a single concentration camp, with an even higher percentage among adults aged 18-34. In addition, most Americans (80%) have not visited a Holocaust museum.

Most US Adults (84%) know that the Holocaust occurred in Germany, the study determined, yet just 37% identified Poland as a country where the Holocaust occurred. Moreover, two-thirds of millennials (66%) could not identify what Auschwitz was.

Despite the concerning results, the Claims Conference found that nearly all Americans (93%) wished for additional Holocaust education. It also found that most Americans desire an overall improvement in the quality of the Holocaust curriculum.

“This study underscores the importance of Holocaust education in our schools,” said Greg Schneider, Executive Vice President of the Claims Conference.  “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.”



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