A recent disturbing survey shed light on how much the next generations know about the holocaust. The majority of people under 40 (millennials and generation Z-ers) are unaware that 6 million Jews were killed in the holocaust.
This deficit of knowledge of the history of this genocide has also revealed an alarming 15% of folks under 40 thought having neo-Nazi views as acceptable. This lack of knowledge of our world history has led nearly 20% of millennials and Gen Z-ers to believe that it was the Jews who CAUSED the Holocaust!
Gideon Taylor, the president of the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany, had commissioned the survey. The survey was #5 in a series designed to review people’s general knowledge on Holocaust history.
“How much of that is based on genuine understanding of neo-Nazis principles and how much is based on ignorance is hard to tell. Either of them is very disturbing. If people can’t name Auschwitz … that’s something that’s deeply concerning. I don’t think there is any greater symbol of man’s depravity in recent history than Auschwitz.”
The survey of 1,000 18- to 39-year-olds in all 50 states also provided the first state-by-state breakdown of Holocaust knowledge in the U.S. In New York, for example, which ranked among the bottom 10 states in an analysis of Holocaust knowledge.
Taylor observed that these results demonstrate how the internet “has given a voice to and amplified Holocaust denial in a way that was unimaginable just a few years ago.”
The survey also discovered that nearly half of respondents had seen social media posts denying or distorting facts about the Holocaust, and more than half said they had seen Nazi symbols in their community or online.
“Approximately 6 million Jews were killed during the Holocaust after Adolf Hitler and the Nazi regime came to power in Germany in the 1930s. Jews and other groups were targeted by the Nazis and their allies on beliefs of perceived racial inferiority. Millions were sent to ghettos, labor camps and concentration camps and killed in mass shootings, gas chambers and from starvation.”
A survey done just 2 years earlier found that almost a third of Americans incorrectly believed 2 million or fewer Jewish people died in the Holocaust. More than 40% of respondents in that survey also could not identify Auschwitz, the notorious concentration camp located in German-occupied Poland.
Ironically, Nazi propagandas that convinced an entire country to try to exterminate a group of people for the good of the world is being used today to erase the memory of those peoples who were nearly destroyed. What are some modern day symbols and campaigns being used to drive entire populations to do things they wouldn’t normally do as an individual? A people who does not take time to learn about history, is a people destined to repeat it.
Arbeit macht frei is a German phrase meaning “Work sets you free.” The slogan is known for appearing on the entrance of Auschwitz and other Nazi concentration camps. And of course the irony of this slogan never led the workers of Auschwitz to freedom but instead led them to a death brought upon them by their captors.