How do 25% of young Americans believe the Holocaust is a myth?
“Those who don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it” is a phrase often plastered across the faded posters on the walls of history classes. It’s a phrase that’s been said many times before because it bears repeating.
Dates & events of the past may seem useless to us in the modern age but, in fact, the opposite is true – knowledge of history is vital to the progress of the future.
A 50-state survey uncovered disturbing results – that 25% of young Americans have bought into the Holocaust denial conspiracy theories infecting social media. The Holocaust is known to be the greatest crime of the 20th century, claiming the lives of 6 million Jewish people, as well as millions of minorities, including the Romani people, those handicapped or impaired, and those in the LGBTQ+ community.
As the Holocaust is now on the brink of crossing the line from “living history” to an entry in a history book, it’s more important than ever that the next generation remembers this tragedy.
The survey, titled, the U.S. Millennial Holocaust Knowledge and Awareness Survey is the first of its kind to gauge the Holocaust awareness of the Gen Z & Millennials. The results revealed a shocking lack of knowledge regarding the Holocaust and even more disturbing misinformation.
63% of those who answered the survey were unaware that 6 million Jews were murdered in the Holocaust while 36% believe the numbers to be 2 million or fewer. Though there were more than 40,000 concentration camps & ghettos in Europe during the Holocaust, 48% of the responders were unable to name a single one.
The most shocking results yielded from the survey were that 23% of Gen Z & Millennial Americans (the two generations comprise a tenth of the population) believe the Holocaust to be a myth or an exaggerated event, 12% have never heard of the Holocaust, and 11% were under the impression that the Jews caused the Holocaust.
The U.S. Millennial Holocaust Knowledge and Awareness Survey also tested to discover which states across the U.S. had the highest or lowest Holocaust knowledge. The “knowledge score” was calculated by the percentage of responders who meet these three criteria: they had heard of the Holocaust, could name at least one concentration camp, death camp, or ghetto, and knew that 6 million Jews were killed.
The states at the bottom of the “knowledge score” were Florida at 20%, Mississippi at 18%, and Arkansas at 17%. The states at the top were Wisconsin with 42%, Minnesota with 37%, and Massachusetts with 35%.
The survey highlights a problem that encompasses not only a distinct lack of knowledge of the Holocaust and the events of World War II in Germany, but that conspiracy theories are undermining the validity of historical facts.
Social media sources such as Facebook are rife with Holocaust denial conspiracies and a study published just last month found that Facebook’s algorithm was “actively promoting” Holocaust denial content.
Gideon Taylor, President of Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany, spoke about the Facebook incident, saying, “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. Survivors lost their families, friends, homes, and communities; we cannot deny their history.”
The Holocaust remains one of the most egregious offenses of modern human history. As signs of oppression & fascism are still present in our society today, it’s more important than ever that we don’t forget the lessons that history has taught us.