Nearly a fifth of American millennials don’t know what Auschwitz is. So says a report by the Claims Conference which was released recently and yet over half of Americans think that the Holocaust could happen again.
The study was released on Holocaust Remembrance Day, and it shows the importance of reminding people of the horrors that took place leading up to and during World War II. There are significant gaps in many peoples’ knowledge about the Holocaust, and it appears to be worse among millennials than it is in their parents’ generation.
70% of the respondents in the Holocaust Knowledge and Awareness Study felt that fewer people care about the Holocaust than they used to and 58% said that the Holocaust could happen again.
49% of Millenials, those born between 1985 and 2000, can not name a single concentration camp. Sadly 45% of all adults in the US had the same lack of knowledge.
One of the most shocking results of the survey is the finding that almost a third of US adults (31%) believe that the number of Holocaust victims is lower than reported.
Historians researching the detailed records kept by the Nazis have placed the death toll as high as 12 million. 6 million of those victims were Jewish. Holocaust deniers feel the number killed in the Holocaust is less than 2 million. The participants in the study seemed more ignorant than in outright denial and almost a third of them felt that less than two million Jews were killed. That number rises to 41% in millennials.
On the positive side, 93% of the Americans involved in the study felt that the Holocaust should be taught in schools.
Those same people, though, while 68% acknowledged that anti-Semitism exists in the US, only 34% felt that there were meaningful numbers of neo-Nazis in America. According to a poll by the Washington Post, 9% of Americans have no problem with those having neo-Nazi or white supremacist ideals. This is approximately 22 million people.
The Claims Conference is also known as the Conference on Jewish Claims Against Germany. It was founded in 1951 with the purpose of helping Jewish families, and Holocaust survivors claim reparations and recovered property from Germany. It also works with organizations for Holocaust survivors and with memorial events.
The Claims Conference was at the center of a scandal in the mid-2000s when it became known that executives were receiving extravagant salaries and the conference was paying extremely high management expenses. It was generally assumed that the money for those salaries and expenses should have been used to help the survivors.
The Chair of the United States Commission for the Preservation of America’s Heritage Abroad, Paul Packer, recently told the Jerusalem Post that President Donald Trump’s administration is working to stop efforts to deny the history of the Jewish people, including Jewish connections to Jerusalem and Jewish suffering in the Holocaust.
Packer said that the US is concerned about motions at UNESCO that deny the Jewish connection to Jerusalem. He went on to say that the administration was also concerned about the Claims Conference poll.
Packer said that the “administration is committed to ensuring there is no daylight between the United States and Israel on preserving Jewish heritage.”
The United States Commission for the Preservation of America’s Heritage Abroad was created in 1985 by President Ronald Reagan. Its purpose is to “encourage and facilitate the preservation and restoration of monuments, cemeteries, historic buildings, and other sites associated with US history.”