LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ) – A first-ever 50-state survey on Holocaust knowledge among Americans in the Millennial and Gen Z age groups find surprising state-by-state results and highlight a worrying lack of basic Holocaust knowledge, according to the survey’s sponsors.
The problem is made worse by the fact fewer and fewer Holocaust survivors – eyewitnesses to a state-sponsored genocide – are alive to share the lessons of the Holocaust, said Gideon Taylor, president of the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany.
Nationally, 63 percent of all survey respondents do not know six million Jews were murdered and 36 percent thought that “two million or fewer Jews” were killed during the Holocaust. Additionally, although more than 40,000 camps and ghettos existed in Europe during the Holocaust, 48 percent of national survey respondents cannot name one.
The state-by-state analysis yielded a particularly disquieting finding that nearly 20 percent of Millennials and Gen Z in New York feel the Jews caused 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 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.”
The study reveals that Wisconsin scores highest in Holocaust awareness among U.S. Millennials and Gen Z. Arkansas has the lowest Holocaust knowledge score, with less than 2-in-10 (17 percent) of Millennials and Gen Z meeting the Holocaust knowledge criteria.
In what might be considered a disturbing sign of the times, 59 percent of respondents indicate they believe something like the Holocaust could happen again.
The states with the highest Holocaust Knowledge Scores are: Wisconsin, Minnesota, Massachusetts, Maine, Kansas, Nebraska, Pennsylvania, Idaho, Iowa, and Montana.
The states with the lowest Holocaust Knowledge Scores are: Alaska, Delaware, Maryland, New York, Georgia, Hawaii, Louisiana, Florida, Mississippi, and Arkansas.
In Kentucky, several specific survey findings fall along national trends. For instance, of the respondents in Kentucky, 51 percent cannot name a single camp or ghetto. Additionally, 61 percent of respondents in Kentucky do not know that six million Jews were killed during the Holocaust.
Other outcomes in Kentucky include:
- When asked if they had seen Holocaust denial or distortion on social media or elsewhere online, 49 percent of respondents in Kentucky say they had.
- 55 percent of respondents in Kentucky believe that something like the Holocaust could happen again.
- Seven percent of respondents in Kentucky think the Jews caused the Holocaust.
- 44 percent of respondents cannot identify that the Holocaust was associated with World War II.
- 15 percent of respondents in Kentucky believe the Holocaust happened but the number of Jews who died has been greatly exaggerated or are unsure.
- 57 percent of respondents in Kentucky believe there is antisemitism in the United States today; 10 percent of respondents in Kentucky believe it is acceptable to hold neo-Nazi views; and 56 percent say they have seen Nazi symbols in their community and/or on social media platforms in the last five years.
- 66 percent of respondents in Kentucky report having never visited a Holocaust museum in the United States.
- 55 percent of respondents in believe Holocaust education should be compulsory in school, and 84 percent say it is important to keep teaching about the Holocaust, in part, so that it does not happen again.