Photo Credit: Phil Kalina via Flickr
Exterior of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum: 80% of Americans have never visited a Holocaust museum.

A new, comprehensive national survey of Holocaust awareness and knowledge among adults in the United States, released on the occasion of Holocaust Remembrance Day by Schoen Consulting on behalf of the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany (Claims Conference), found that more than half of Americans believe that the Holocaust could happen again.

The Holocaust Knowledge and Awareness Study also found that a significant majority of American adults believe that fewer people care about the Holocaust today than they used to, and pointed to critical gaps in awareness of basic facts as well as detailed knowledge of the Holocaust.

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There is a broad-based consensus among Americans that schools must be responsible for providing comprehensive Holocaust education, according to the survey.

Also, while the vast majority of historians believe that approximately six million Jews were exterminated in the Holocaust, nearly one-third of all Americans (31%) and more than four-in-ten Millennials (41%) believe that only two million Jews or fewer were killed in the Holocaust.

Poles should be comforted by the survey’s finding regarding the primary location of the events tied to the Holocaust: Most U.S. Adults (84%) know that the Holocaust occurred in Germany, but only 37% identified Poland as a country where the Holocaust took place, despite the fact that more than half (3.5 million) of the Jews killed were from Poland, and the fact that the vast majority of Nazi death camps were located there. And while 90% of the Jewish population in Baltic States was killed, awareness that the Holocaust occurred in these countries is in the single digits.

Here’s another alarming result of the survey: almost half of US Adults (45%) and Millennials (49%) cannot name even one of the more than 40,000 concentration camps and ghettos in Europe during the Holocaust, and more than 4-in-10 (41%) did not know what Auschwitz was. Two-thirds of Millennials (66%) had no idea what Auschwitz was.

Are you in awe of the seemingly countless endeavors to familiarize Americans with the Holocaust? Well, if you frequent Holocaust museums, you belong to a depressingly small minority: the survey found that most Americans (80%) have never visited a Holocaust museum and two-thirds (66%) do not know a Holocaust survivor or heard about one.

Still, there are encouraging notes in the survey, particularly findings underscoring Americans’ desire for Holocaust education. More than nine out of ten respondents (93%) believe all students should learn about the Holocaust in school, and eight out of ten respondents (80%) say it is important to keep teaching about the Holocaust so it does not happen again.

“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.”

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.

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