That question and many others gauging knowledge of the Holocaust were part of a survey that found across-the-board ignorance about the greatest tragedy in the 20th century.
The question about how many Jews died in the Holocaust was multiple choice, with options ranging from 25,000 (5%) to 20 million (10%). The survey also found that nearly half of Millennials (48%) couldn’t name a single concentration camp and 40% didn’t know which war the Holocaust was associated with. 15% of participants said that the number of deaths was exaggerated or that the Holocaust itself was a myth.
As the saying goes, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” And given the human rights atrocities currently taking place around the world, it doesn’t bode well that young people aren’t properly educated on this subject.
“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 the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany (Claims Conference) which commissioned the survey.
Taylor added: “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.”
These results come at a time when conservatives are lashing out at the prospect of students learning about the “1619 Project,” which rethinks our nation’s founding in a way that centers around slavery. Just this week, Donald Trump demanded students learn a much more whitewashed version of our history.
Given that we’re living in the era for peddlers of fake news and right-wing anti-Semitism, it’s all the more troubling how many people aren’t up to speed on what, exactly, Jewish people have had to fight against.
Who is at fault for this tragic ignorance: Parents? The education system? The government? This can’t be pinned on one person or one political party. The responsibility belongs to all of us to educate each other. But it sure would help if government officials weren’t getting in the way. It’s no surprise that an administration eager to deport DACA recipients or performing unnecessary hysterectomies on ICE detainees doesn’t want people to make a connection between today and the past. The similarities are much too close for comfort.
The question of what you’d do if you lived during the time of the Holocaust is no longer rhetorical. We’re finding out that answer in real time.
(Image via Shutterstock)