Nearly two-thirds of young adults in the United States do not know that 6 million Jews were killed during the Holocaust, according to a surprising new survey that also shows Holocaust denial is prevalent on social media.
The poll of U.S. Millennials and Gen Z adults ages 18-39, released last week, showed that only 37 percent accurately said 6 million Jewish people were killed during the Holocaust. One third (36 percent) said it was 2 million or less, while 17 percent were not sure. It was a multiple-choice question, with seven possible answers.
Nearly half of respondents (48 percent) could not name a single concentration camp, death camp or ghetto during World War II. (Auschwitz, at 44 percent, was the most well-known camp.)
About half (49 percent) also said they had seen holocaust denial or distortion on social media or elsewhere online.
A total of 15 percent of respondents said they believe either the number of Jews has been exaggerated (12 percent) or the Holocaust did not happen (3 percent).
The survey was commissioned by the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany. It included 1,000 interviews nationwide and 200 interviews in each state.
“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. “We need to understand why we aren’t doing better in educating a younger generation about the Holocaust and the lessons of the past. This needs to serve as a wake-up call to us all, and as a road map of where government officials need to act.”
Meanwhile, 59 percent of young adults say they believe “something like the Holocaust could happen again today,” and 64 percent believe “there is antisemitism in the United States today.”
An overwhelming majority (82 percent) say they’re either very familiar (52 percent) or familiar (30 percent) with the story of Anne Frank, a victim of the Holocaust whose diary has inspired people worldwide.
The conference, in an online analysis, said the survey reveals a “worrying lack of basic Holocaust knowledge” which is a “growing problem as fewer and fewer Holocaust survivors – eyewitnesses to a state-sponsored genocide – are alive to share the lessons of the Holocaust.”
Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Stefaan Maes
Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.