41% of Americans Have to Ask, ‘What’s Auschwitz?’

Thursday is Holocaust Remembrance Day, and a new survey suggests the day is sorely needed.

The results show that many Americans, particularly young adults, lack a basic understanding of the Nazi genocide during World War II.

Though 96% of respondents said the Holocaust took place, 31% believe a maximum of 2 million Jews were killed, well under the actual figure of about 6 million, reports the New York Times. The percentage increased to 41% among millennials, defined as those aged 18 to 34.

Some 41% of Americans and 66% of millennials had no idea about Auschwitz, the death camp in Nazi-occupied Poland where an estimated 1.1 million were killed, per WFTS.

The infamous German inscription that reads 'Work Makes Free' at the main gate of the Auschwitz I extermination camp. (Getty Images)

The infamous German inscription that reads ‘Work Makes Free’ at the main gate of the Auschwitz I extermination camp. (Getty Images)

The executive vice president of the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany, which seeks restitution for Holocaust victims and their heirs and commissioned the February survey of 1,350 respondents, says the gaps in understanding are “troubling” given that some 400,000 Holocaust survivors are still living.

“Imagine when there are no longer survivors here to tell their stories,” he says, stressing the importance of Holocaust education. He’s backed by survey respondents, 93% of whom said it was important to teach about the Holocaust in schools.

While experts say there’s nothing quite like hearing about the genocide directly from a survivor, museums are preparing for a time when no survivors remain, using holograms and recorded testimony to keep their stories alive, notes the Times.

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9 comments

  • Silverfish Imperetrix

    An integral part of the Nazis taking over Germany was disarming the population. The way things are going, in another generation or so it could happen again.

    • Rusty Knyffe

      Not only was disarming the population one of the steps, but the first and most egregious step was to control speech and communication. Take away anyone’s ability to discuss or alert others about goingson and the rest soon follows.

      That people are this ignorant of history bodes ill for our nation. This being the generation that insists that us “older” citizens are useless because we can’t (or, won’t) use an iPhone can’t even make change for a purchase under $5. The Generation Sheeple is truly disturbing. Next thing you know, one of these people is going to develop some kind of information application to collect personal data from millions and call it a service to mankind. Oh, wait……

    • Rusty Knyffe

      We may not want to believe that 6 millions Jews were killed, but they were. Some of these people were suspected of being Jews when they weren’t – they fell into a certain description or neighbors/coworkers wanted to save their own lives and turned them in as Jews. Another absolutely certainty is that roughly 10 million people were exterminated in death camps. This was called “The Final Solution.” It’s horrific, and we forget that this continues on into present day.

      Stalin, whom is NEVER mentioned in lieu of Hitler’s Nazi regime (remember, even members of his own party wanted to assassinate him), exterminated approximately 30 million people during his dictatorship between 1922 and 1952.

      In the Rwandan genocide, over 1 million people were exterminated for carrying the wrong identity card that had been instated as part of the German and Belgian colonialism – well over 10% of the entire national population.

      Yeah……..numbers are pretty scary when we get down to the statistics of what any brutal government or uprising does. It’s unpleasant and we don’t like to accept that people are simply murderous psychopaths, so we cook the books and do everything we can to minimize the facts to a more comfortable level, particularly when people knew what was happening and decided to take a stance of non-interference. When we’re talking about tens of millions, what’s a few hundred thousand, here or there?

      • Silverfish Imperetrix

        Mao Tse Tung even had Stalin beat. He killed 55 million of his own people. All in all, well over 100 million people were killed in the 20th Century trying to (and sometimes succeeding) implement socialism / communism.

      • Rusty Knyffe

        VERY good point, and these exterminations all began with suppressing communications – speaking freely.

        What is disturbing is that these genocides continue, today. All of the social media in the world won’t help because they are no longer a legally neutral platform. In legal terms, social media are publishers that determine what they will, and won’t, feed to the public under the guise of “information.” Wait for it……………..

  • gutterratt

    The teaching of the intention and actions of the nazis to exterminate the Jews should be a part of all discussions in relationship to bias, oppression, and slavery of any one culture/nation over another.

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