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One in 10 young American adults thinks Jewish people caused the Holocaust, survey finds

Selection on the ramp at Auschwitz-Birkenau, 1944 (unknown photographer from the Auschwitz Erkennungsdienst/WikiCommons)

About 1 in 10 young adults in America think Jewish people caused the Holocaust, a new survey finds.

And 10% of people in that age group say they don’t believe that the Holocaust happened or aren’t sure that it took place, the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany said in results published Wednesday.

The findings come as almost half of millennials and people in Generation Z reported seeing “Holocaust denial or distortion posts on social media” or elsewhere online , results from the organization show. The Holocaust occurred around the time of World War II, when the German Nazis killed millions of people who were Jewish and from other backgrounds.

In the United States, “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,” the Claims Conference said in a news release.

When young adults were asked about their views, the survey found “23 percent of respondents believe the Holocaust happened, but the number of Jews who died has been greatly exaggerated, is a myth and did not happen, or are unsure.”

Denial of history isn’t new. Groups have long said the Holocaust didn’t exist as a way to try to promote antisemitic views, according to the the Southern Poverty Law Center.

“Holocaust denial delegitimizes the suffering of Jews, and exacerbates intergenerational traumas by denying Holocaust history, and codifies antisemitic propaganda under the guise of academic research,” the center said.

Some social media users reacted to the survey outcomes.

“Disturbing. Disappointing. Wholly unsettling. Almost two-thirds of young Americans don’t know that 6 million Jews were killed in the Holocaust,” said Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of the Anti-Defamation League.

“What ARE they teaching in History?,” another Twitter user wrote. “How do you skip WW2?”

The Claims Conference, which calls the new survey results “shocking,” says it negotiates “with the government of Germany for payments to Holocaust victims and for homecare funding for elderly survivors.”

To conduct the survey, the Claims Conference says it worked with Schoen Cooperman Research to analyze “1,000 interviews nationwide and 200 interviews in each state” conducted between Feb. 26 and March 28. Phone and online responses were gathered from people ages 18 to 39, results show.


© 2020 The News & Observer