Holocaust awareness in America and the West


(1) Overview

(2) Source materials


Jenny Aharon, an adviser on EU-Israel affairs, posted this on Twitter:


(1) Overview

  • 2023: 20% of Americans age 18-29 believe the Holocaust is “a myth.”
  • 2023: 40% of Americans now believe the statement, “Israel treats Palestinians like the Nazis treated Jews,” is accurate. Other recent surveys reveal that 65% of people in Greece, 35% in Spain, 29% in the Netherlands, and 26% in Sweden, agree.
  • 2023: 40% of Americans now believe the statement, “Israel treats Palestinians like the Nazis treated Jews,” is accurate. Other recent surveys reveal that 65% of people in Greece, 35% in Spain, 29% in the Netherlands, and 26% in Sweden, agree. Update, August 2023: A retired IDF commander and deputy director of the Mossad has echoed this allegation. Excerpt from here:

A retired Israeli general and former Mossad spy accused his country’s government of “total apartheid” as he appeared to compare the occupied West Bank to Nazi Germany. Amiram Levin, who served as commander of the Israeli army’s northern forces and deputy director of Mossad, made the remarks during an interview with the Israeli broadcaster Kan. […] “Walk around Hebron and you will see streets where Arabs cannot walk, just like what happened in Germany,” the Jerusalem Post quoted him as saying.

  • 2018: 67% of American Millennials, and 40% US adults overall, don’t know what Auschwitz was.
  • 2020: 20% of young New Yorkers believe the Jews caused the Holocaust.
  • 2020: 58% of New Yorkers, and 60% of Texans, are unable to name a single Holocaust concentration camp or ghetto.
  • 2022: Nearly one-third of American Millennials, and 25% of US adults overall, have little or no knowledge of the Holocaust.
  • 2023: In Holland, 23% of Millennials and Gen Zers said they believe the Holocaust is a myth, or that the number of Jews killed have been largely exaggerated; more than half did not know that 6 million Jews were murdered in the Holocaust.
  • 2021: 52% of Britons don’t know that six million Jews were murdered during the Holocaust; 22% think two million or fewer Jews were killed.
  • 2020: 63% of Americans do not know that six million Jews were murdered in the Holocaust; 36% think the toll was two million or fewer.
  • 2018: More than half of American adults think Hitler came to power by force.
  • 2018: 45% of Americans cannot name a single concentration camp; 41% of respondents, and 66% of millennials, cannot identify what Auschwitz was.

In response to the results of a 2020 survey conducted by one of the world’s largest Holocaust-focused nonprofits, its president said:

“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. 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.”

– Gideon Taylor, President, Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany, September 2020


Amid this situation, in 2015 actress Natalie Portman publicly said the following:

“I think a really big question the Jewish community needs to ask itself, is how much at the forefront we put Holocaust education. Which is, of course, an important question to remember and to respect, but not over other things.”


(2) Source materials

Most recent items at top.

Antisemitic Attitudes in America: Topline Findings, Anti-Defamation League, January 12, 2013. Excerpt:

“The below chart shows support for each statement in the Israel Sentiment Index. Notably, 90 percent of Americans believe Israel has a right to defend itself against those who want to destroy it. Further, 79 percent of Americans see Israel as a strong ally of the United States. However, negative, antisemitic sentiments toward Israel are held by a broad swath of the American public – from 40 percent who believe, at least slightly, that Israel treats Palestinians like Nazis treated the Jews, to 18 percent who are uncomfortable spending time with a person who supports Israel.”


Towards a more compassionate society: The Gandel Survey & the impact of Holocaust education and museums in Australia, International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance, October 17, 2022. Excerpt:

Commissioned by the Gandel Foundation and undertaken by a team of researchers at Deakin University, including IHRA delegates Dr. Steven Cooke and Dr. Donna-Lee Frieze, the Gandel Survey asked over 3,500 Australians more than 70 questions, making it the largest survey of its kind ever undertaken.

Some of the survey’s key findings were alarming: Although Australians showed comparatively high levels of Holocaust knowledge, a quarter of the population had little or no knowledge of the Holocaust, with that number rising to 30% among Millennials. Likewise, over 70% knew nothing about Australia’s own connections to the Holocaust – despite Australia being home to one of the largest populations of Holocaust survivors per capita.


Holocaust Knowledge Gaps Threaten the World’s Pledge to Uphold “Never Forget” and “Never Again” Pillars, by Doug Schoen, Forbes, November 16, 2021. Excerpt:

The lack of basic Holocaust knowledge and awareness across Europe and North America threatens the world’s pledge to uphold the core pillars of this horrific genocide— “never forget” and “never again”—for generations to come.

Indeed, a recent survey among adults in the United Kingdom—which was conducted by my firm, Schoen-Cooperman Research, and commissioned by the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany—found that many respondents could not recall basic facts about the Holocaust.

Foremost, a majority (52 percent) of U.K. respondents did not know that six million Jews were murdered in the Holocaust, and 22 percent thought that two million or fewer Jews were killed.

This deficiency in Holocaust knowledge is not unique to adults in the United Kingdom. Across all five countries the Claims Conference has studied—the United States, France, Austria, Canada, and now the United Kingdom—more than one-half of all respondents could not correctly identify that six million Jews were killed.


Survey exposes lack of knowledge about the Holocaust, Institute of Education Institute of Education (IOE), University College London, November 10, 2021. Excerpt:

A new national study of Holocaust knowledge and awareness in the United Kingdom found that 52% of all respondents did not know that six million Jews were murdered during the Holocaust with 22% thinking that two million or fewer Jews were killed.

The study, led by the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany (Claims Conference), brought together a survey taskforce including UCL Institute of Education (IOE) academics Professor Stuart Foster and Dr Rebecca Hale, who shared their expertise in conducting national studies about Holocaust education with students and teachers in England as part of their work at the Centre for Holocaust Education.


20% young people ‘felt’ as though the Jews caused the Holocaust – survey, by Zachary Keyser, Jerusalem Post, September 17, 2020. Excerpt:

The numbers, state-by-state, show that 60% of respondents in Texas, 58% in New York and 57% in South Carolina were unable to name a camp or ghetto.

More importantly, around 20% of the young people sample in New York “felt” as though the Jews caused the Holocaust. Out of the nationwide sample, 11% believed that Jews were responsible for the Holocaust.

“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 Conference Claims president Gideon Taylor. “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.” […]

“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,” said Claims Conference executive vice president Greg Schneider.


First-ever 50-state survey on Holocaust knowledge of American millennials and Gen-Z reveals shocking results, Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany, September 16, 2020. Excerpt:

Gideon Taylor, President of the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany (Claims Conference), today announced the release of the U.S. Millennial Holocaust Knowledge and Awareness Survey, the first-ever 50-state survey on Holocaust knowledge among Millennials and Gen Z. The surprising state-by-state results highlight a worrying lack of basic Holocaust knowledge, a growing problem as fewer and fewer Holocaust survivors – eyewitnesses to a state-sponsored genocide – are alive to share the lessons of the Holocaust.

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.


What Americans Know About the Holocaust, Pew Research, January 22, 2020, Excerpt:

Most U.S. adults know what the Holocaust was and approximately when it happened, but fewer than half can correctly answer multiple-choice questions about the number of Jews who were murdered or the way Adolf Hitler came to power, according to a new Pew Research Center survey.


Survey: Holocaust Is Fading From American Memory, NPR, April 15, 2018. Excerpt:

A new poll commissioned by a Jewish organization reveals big gaps in Americans’ historical knowledge. According to that survey, two-thirds of millennials and 4 out of 10 Americans overall don’t know what Auschwitz was. And while 6 million has long been accepted by historians as the number of Jews killed in the Holocaust, nearly a third of Americans think it was far fewer. And just over half of Americans think Hitler came to power by force. In fact, he was democratically elected.

To consider the significance of this, we’re joined now by Deborah Lipstadt. She’s the author of many books including, “Denying The Holocaust: The Growing Assault On Truth And Memory.” You might remember that another of her books about her successful court defense against a suit by a British Holocaust denier was the basis of the 2016 film “Denial.” Professor Lipstadt, thank you so much for speaking with us. It’s a pleasure to speak with you once again.

DEBORAH LIPSTADT: You’re welcome. Thank you for having me, Michel.

MARTIN: Well, as a person who teaches this history, were you surprised by the results of the survey?

LIPSTADT: I was surprised, I must say that, and I don’t surprise easily. I was surprised because 6 million has become almost a noun more than a number. And Auschwitz has become a shorthand for so many things that I was surprised by this number and a bit depressed by it as well.


Americans Lack Basic Knowledge of the Holocaust  The knowledge gap is particularly troubling among U.S. millennials, by Megan Trimble, US News & World Report, April 12, 2018. Excerpt:

A survey released in tandem with Yom HaShoah, or Holocaust Remembrance Day, found a startling number of American adults lack basic knowledge of what happened during the genocide.

That knowledge gap is more pronounced among U.S. millennials – people ages 18 to 34, according to the national study commissioned by the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany and released Thursday. The survey, conducted by Schoen Consulting from Feb. 23-27, involved 1,350 American adults interviewed by phone or online. Millennials were 31 percent of the sample.

Forty-one percent of millennials, and nearly one-third of all Americans, believe that 2 million or fewer Jews were killed in the Holocaust. The actual number is about 6 million. Moreover, 45 percent of Americans could not name a single concentration camp, despite more than 40,000 camps and ghettos operating in Europe during the Holocaust, and 41 percent of respondents – and 66 percent of millennials – couldn’t identify what Auschwitz was.

The survey also found that some respondents had not heard of, or are not sure if they had heard of, the Holocaust.


Holocaust study: Two-thirds of millennials don’t know what Auschwitz is, By Julie Zauzmer, Washington Post, April 12, 2018. Excerpt:

Two-thirds of American millennials surveyed in a recent poll cannot identify what Auschwitz is, according to a study released on Holocaust Remembrance Day that found that knowledge of the genocide that killed 6 million Jews during World War II is not robust among American adults.

Twenty-two percent of millennials in the poll said they haven’t heard of the Holocaust or are not sure whether they’ve heard of it — twice the percentage of U.S. adults as a whole who said the same.


Natalie Portman: Holocaust is no more tragic than other genocides In an interview with ‘The Independent’, she questions the precedent of putting Holocaust education before all other national tragedies, by Sam Sokol, Jerusalem Post, August 23, 2015. Excerpt:

Holocaust survivor advocates harshly criticized Natalie Portman on Sunday, after the Israeli-born actress/director stated that the Shoah is no more tragic than other genocides and questioned its prominence in Jewish education.

In an interview with The Independent published on Friday, the American movie star questioned prominence given to Holocaust education at the expense of other mass murders.

“I think a really big question the Jewish community needs to ask itself, is how much at the forefront we put Holocaust education. Which is, of course, an important question to remember and to respect, but not over other things,” she was quoted as saying.


Greeks Have ‘Devastating’ Lack of Awareness About the Holocaust, Study Finds, by Felicity Capon, Newsweek, March 20, 2015. Excerpt:

A survey has found that a large number of Greeks have limited awareness of the Holocaust and even harbour antisemitic views, which can be attributed to a “profound sense of victimisation” according to the report’s authors.

The survey, conducted by academics from the International Hellenic University, the University of Macedonia, and the University of Oxford, with funding from the British, Canadian and Romanian embassies in Athens, questioned 1045 Greeks over the age of 18. The survey was presented yesterday at the British ambassador’s residence in Athens under the title Perceptions about the Holocaust and Antisemitism in Greece.

Among the report’s most shocking findings was that 65% of all recipients agreed with the statement: “The Jews treat Palestinians in the same way they were treated by the Germans in WWII,” a result that one of report’s authors Dr Giorgos Antoniou, describes as “devastating”. Over 90% of the Greeks questioned believed that Jewish people hold too much power in international business and media.


Teaching the Holocaust to Muslim Germans, or Not, by Alison Smale, The New York Times, June 17, 2015. Excerpt:

In Germany’s ever-swirling debate about its past, it is a relatively recent, always delicate question: How do you teach Muslim Germans about the Nazis and the Holocaust?

The topic has bubbled up in recent weeks, after discussion in Bavaria about a proposal for all eighth or ninth graders there to visit a former concentration camp or the newly opened center in Munich documenting Nazi crimes. […]

One conservative lawmaker, Klaus Steiner, praised the intent, but he suggested that Muslim pupils would need special preparation and implied that some might be exempted.

Lower-ranked secondary schools, he said, have a higher proportion of immigrant pupils, often recent arrivals whose parents sought refuge from war and hardship. “Many are from Muslim families,” Mr. Steiner said. “These children and their parents will need time before they can identify with our past.”

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