October 2020 -- Tishrei- Cheshvan 5781,  Volume 26, Issue 10

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The U.S. Holocaust Knowledge and Awareness Survey

Gideon Taylor, President of the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany (Claims Conference), announced the release of the U.S. Millennial Holocaust Knowledge and Awareness Survey, the first-ever 50-state survey on Holocaust knowledge among Millennials and Gen Z. The surprising state-by-state results highlight a worrying lack of basic Holocaust knowledge, a growing problem as fewer and fewer Holocaust survivors – eyewitnesses to a state-sponsored genocide – are alive to share the lessons of the Holocaust.

 

Nationally, there is a clear lack of awareness of key historical facts; 63 percent of all national survey respondents do not know that six million Jews were murdered and 36 percent thought that “two million or fewer Jews” were killed during the Holocaust. Additionally, although there were more than 40,000 camps and ghettos in Europe during the Holocaust, 48 percent of national survey respondents cannot name a single one.

 

The state-by-state analysis yielded a particularly disquieting finding that nearly 20 percent of Millennials and Gen Z in New York feel the Jews 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. “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.”

The study reveals that Wisconsin scores highest in Holocaust awareness among U.S. Millennials and Gen Z. Arkansas has the lowest Holocaust knowledge score , with less than 2-in-10 (17 percent) of Millennials and Gen Z meeting the Holocaust knowledge criteria.

 

In what might be considered a disturbing sign of the times, 59 percent of respondents indicate that they believe something like the Holocaust could happen again.

 

The states with the highest Holocaust Knowledge Scores are: Wisconsin, Minnesota, Massachusetts, Maine, Kansas, Nebraska, Pennsylvania, Idaho, Iowa, and Montana.

The states with the lowest Holocaust Knowledge Scores are: Alaska, Delaware, Maryland, New York, Georgia, Hawaii, Louisiana, Florida, Mississippi, and Arkansas.

 

In New York, several specific survey findings are particularly stunning. For instance, there were more than 40,000 camps and ghettos during World War II, but of the respondents in New York, 58 percent cannot name a single one. Additionally, 60 percent of respondents in New York do not know that six million Jews were killed during the Holocaust.

 

Other outcomes in New York include:

 

• When asked if they had seen Holocaust denial or distortion on social media or elsewhere online, 57 percent of respondents in New York say they had.

 

• 58 percent of respondents in New York believe that something like the Holocaust could happen again.

 

• 19 percent of respondents in New York think the Jews caused the Holocaust.

 

• 36 percent of respondents cannot identify that the Holocaust was associated with World War II.

 

• 34 percent of respondents in New York believe the Holocaust happened but the number of Jews who died has been greatly exaggerated, the Holocaust is a myth and did not happen, or are unsure.

 

• 65 percent of respondents in New York believe there is antisemitism in the United States today; and 67 percent say they have seen Nazi symbols in their community and/or on social media platforms in the last five years.

 

• 28 percent of respondents in New York believe it is acceptable to hold neo-Nazi views.

 

• 62 percent of respondents in New York report having never visited a Holocaust museum in the United States.

 

• 65 percent of respondents in New York believe Holocaust education should be compulsory in school, and 79 percent say it is important to keep teaching about the Holocaust, in part, so that it does not happen again.

 

The Claims Conference recently launched #NoDenyingIt, a digital campaign in which survivors, in personal and moving videos posted online, appeal directly to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg – imploring him to remove Holocaust denial from his platform. The survey findings underscore the importance the urgent need to understand that Holocaust denial is hate speech and to remove denial of this critical historic event.

 

Survey Taskforce: A U.S. Millennial Holocaust Knowledge and Awareness Survey task force led by Claims Conference Board member Matthew Bronfman, was comprised of Holocaust survivors as well as historians and subject matter experts from museums, educational institutions and leading nonprofits in the field of Holocaust education, including Yad Vashem, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, the Claims Conference and George Washington University.

 

Survey Methodology and Sample: The Holocaust Knowledge and Awareness Study was commissioned by the Claims Conference. Data was collected in the United States and analyzed by Schoen Cooperman Research, with a representative sample of 1,000 interviews nationwide and 200 interviews in each state with adults ages 18 to 39 via landline, cell phone and online interviews. Respondents were selected at random and constituted a demographically representative sample of the Millennial population across each state. For more information, visit: www.claimscon.org

 

The Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany (Claims Conference), a nonprofit organization with offices in New York, Tel Aviv and Frankfurt secures material compensation for Holocaust survivors around the world. Founded in 1951 by representatives of 23 major international Jewish organizations, the Claims Conference negotiates for and disburses funds to individuals and organizations and seeks the return of Jewish property stolen during the Holocaust. As a result of negotiations with the Claims Conference since 1952, the German government has paid more than $80 billion in indemnification to individuals for suffering and losses resulting from persecution by the Nazis. In 2020, the Claims Conference will distribute approximately $350 million in direct compensation to over 60,000 survivors in 83 countries and allocate approximately $610 million in grants to over 200 social service agencies worldwide that provide vital services for Holocaust survivors, such as homecare, food and medicine.