A new study in America found there are “critical gaps” in both awareness of basic facts as well as detailed knowledge of the Holocaust.

Whilst the survey reveals some major concerns, it is also heartening to see that the vast majority of Americans (93%) see the importance of teaching Holocaust education in school.

Key findings:

  • Seven out of ten Americans (70 percent) say fewer people seem to care about the Holocaust than they used to
  • A majority of Americans (58 percent) believe something like the Holocaust could happen again
  • Nearly one-third of all Americans (31 percent) and more than 4-in-10 Millennials (41 percent) believe that substantially less than 6 million Jews were killed (two million or fewer) during the Holocaust
  • While there were over 40,000 concentration camps and ghettos in Europe during the Holocaust, almost half of Americans (45 percent) cannot name a single one – and this percentage is even higher amongst Millennials
  • Most Americans (80 percent) have not visited a Holocaust museum
  • More than nine out of ten respondents (93 percent) believe all students should learn about the Holocaust in school
  • Eight out of ten respondents (80 percent) say it is important to keep teaching about the Holocaust so it does not happen again

The study was commissioned by the Claims Conference who described it as a comprehensive national survey of Holocaust awareness and knowledge among adults in the United States.

The publication of the study took place on Yom HaShoah, the Holocaust Remembrance Day for Israel and the Jewish people.

“On the occasion of Yom HaShoah, it is vital to open a dialogue on the state of Holocaust awareness so that the lessons learned inform the next generation,” said Claims Conference president Julius Berman.

“We are alarmed that today’s generation lacks some of the basic knowledge about these atrocities,” he continued.

The survey found there are critical gaps both in awareness of basic facts as well as detailed knowledge of the Holocaust, and there is a broad-based consensus that schools must be responsible for providing comprehensive Holocaust education. (Unfortunately, only 9 States currently mandate Holocaust education as part of their school curriculum.)

In addition, a significant majority of American adults believe that fewer people care about the Holocaust today than they used to, and more than half of Americans believe that the Holocaust could happen again.

Holocaust Knowledge and Awareness Study

Claims Conference Board Member and Survey Task Force Chair, Matthew Bronfman discussing some of the findings from the Holocaust Knowledge and Awareness Survey. On this week of Yom HaShoah, as we remember victims of the Holocaust, this study reminds us of the importance of our work and the need to continue addressing education and research so that the world truly never forgets.

Posted by Claims Conference (Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany) on Thursday, 12 April 2018

“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.”

What is the Holocaust? The Holocaust was the mass murder of six million Jews and millions of other people leading up to, and during, World War II. The killings took place in Europe between 1933 and 1945 and were carried out and organised by the German Nazi party which was led by Adolf Hitler. The largest group of victims were the Jews. Nearly 7 out of every 10 Jews living in Europe were killed.

The Holocaust Knowledge and Awareness Study was commissioned by the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany.   Data was collected and analyzed by Schoen Consulting with a representative sample of 1350 American adults via landline, cell-phone, and online interviews.  Respondents were selected at random and constituted a demographically representative sample of the adult population in the United States.

The task force which carried out the survey was comprised of Holocaust survivors as well as representatives from museums, educational institutions, and leading nonprofits in the field of Holocaust education such as:  Yad Vashem, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Claims Conference, American Jewish Committee, the Jewish Agency and George Washington University.