Almost two-thirds of young Americans know little of the Holocaust

A national survey released just a couple of days before Rosh Hashanah shows younger adults between the ages of 18 and 39 have a shocking lack of knowledge about the Holocaust.

The U.S. Millennial Holocaust Knowledge and Awareness Survey, the first-ever 50-state survey on Holocaust knowledge among Millennials and Gen Z, was released today by the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany (Claims Conference).

Nationally, 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. Additionally, although there were more than 40,000 camps and ghettos in Europe during the Holocaust, 48 percent of national survey respondents cannot name a single one.

In perhaps one of the most disturbing revelations of this survey, 11 percent of U.S. Millennial and Gen Z respondents believe Jews caused the Holocaust.

The survey offered one positive finding nationally: 80 percent of respondents believe that Holocaust education is important, “in part, so that it does not happen again.”

Young adults aren’t the only ones struggling to recall history. As I wrote here, U.S. 8th graders don’t know U.S. history that well, according to test results on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). (Concerning academic proficiency isn’t limited to history either. Student performance in reading and mathematics is also in a sorry state.)

Why is knowledge of key historical events and the rudiments of American history rapidly becoming history? Is it because less classroom time is devoted to this subject compared to other subject areas? Or is it because instruction in general is getting blurred into politics and propaganda?

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