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More Than 10 Percent of Millennials and Gen Z Believe Jews Caused the Holocaust: Poll

Newsweek logo Newsweek 9/16/2020 Ewan Palmer
a group of people walking down a dirt road: Auschwitz German concentration camp's barbed wires and prisoners barracks. A survey has found that 11 percent of U.S. Millennial and Gen Z respondents believe Jews caused the Holocaust. © Alain Nogues/Sygma/Sygma/Getty Auschwitz German concentration camp's barbed wires and prisoners barracks. A survey has found that 11 percent of U.S. Millennial and Gen Z respondents believe Jews caused the Holocaust.

The millennial and Z generations have a "shocking and saddening" lack of knowledge about the Holocaust, with more than one in 10 believing the atrocity was caused by the Jewish people according to a new survey.

According to a poll conducted by the President of the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany (Claims Conference), both generations display a "disturbing" lack of basic awareness about some key facts surrounding the Holocaust, including not knowing how many people died or the names of Nazi concentration camps.

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In what is described as "one of the most disturbing revelations" of the survey, 11 percent of U.S. millennials and Generation Z members said they believed that Jews caused the Holocaust.

When broken down by state, the poll says that nearly one in five (19 percent) of people in New York believed that Jews were responsible—a fact made "even more disturbing" as New York is the state with by far the largest Jewish population in the country.

The report also found that 16 percent of responders in Louisiana and Tennessee also believe Jewish people caused the Holocaust, along with 13 percent in Texas and California and 12 percent in South Dakota.

Nationally, 59 percent of respondents said that they believe something like the Holocaust could happen again.

"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, president of Claims Conference.

"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."

Claims Conference, an organization that works to improve Holocaust education and secure compensation for survivors, conducted what they described as the first-ever 50-state survey on Holocaust knowledge among millennials and Gen Z.

Nearly half (49 percent) of millennials and Gen Z say they have seen Holocaust denial and distortion shared on social media or elsewhere online.

When asked how many Jews were killed during the Holocaust, 63 percent of those taking part in the survey said they did not know the figure was six million.

When broken down by state, the report found that 69 percent of people in Arkansas do not know how many Jewish people died in the Holocaust, followed by Delaware with 68 percent, Arizona with 67 percent, and Mississippi and Tennessee with 66 percent.

When broken down further, nationally 36 percent of millennials and Gen Z in the U.S. said they thought that two million or fewer Jews were murdered.

Elsewhere, 48 percent of millennials and Gen Z could not name a single Nazi death camp or ghetto established during World War II.

"Not only was their overall lack of Holocaust knowledge troubling, but combined with the number of millennials and Gen Z who have seen Holocaust denial on social media, it is clear that we must fight this distortion of history and do all we can to ensure that the social media giants stop allowing this harmful content on their platforms," Claims Conference Executive Vice President Greg Schneider said.

"Survivors lost their families, friends, homes and communities; we cannot deny their history."

Claims Conference also ranked each state based the responders meeting their top three Holocaust knowledge criteria: heard about the Holocaust, can name at least one concentration camp, death camp, or ghetto, and know that six million Jews were killed in the Holocaust.

Based on the percentages of responses, Wisconsin scored the highest in Holocaust awareness, followed by Minnesota, Massachusetts, Maine and Kansas.

Arkansas has the lowest Holocaust knowledge score with only 17 percent of millennials and Gen Z in the state meeting the Holocaust knowledge criteria.

The Holocaust Knowledge and Awareness Study involved a sample 1,000 adults aged between 18 and 39 nationwide and 200 interviews in each state. The survey was conducted via landline, cell phone and online interviews.

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