Survey: Nearly 2 in 3 young Ohioans don’t know 6 million Jews were killed in Holocaust

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Nationwide lack of Holocaust knowledge among Millennials, Gen Z

Visitors walk below the gate with its inscription “Work sets you free” as the memorial site of the former German Nazi death camp Auschwitz in Oswiecim reopens on July 1, 2020 to visitors, for the first time after a break caused by novel coronavirus COVID-19 lockdown. (Photo by BARTOSZ SIEDLIK/AFP via Getty Images)

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WTRF) – A first-of-its-kind survey has found members of America’s youngest generations possess a “disturbing” lack of knowledge about the Holocaust.

The study by the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany of 11,000 Millennial and Generation Z adults, aged 18-39, found they lack basic knowledge of key facts about the Holocaust, the World War II-era Nazi extermination of 11 million people including 6 million Jews

Among the most startling finds are that 63 percent of Millennial and Gen Z adults did not know that 6 million Jews were killed; 36 percent believed it was fewer than 2 million Jews; and 11 percent thought that Jews caused the Holocaust.

The survey, conducted in March, also provided results by state, which show young Ohioans are about as informed as the U.S. average:

Two were two areas, though, in which Ohio diverged from the rest of the country. Although 56 percent nationwide did not know of Auschwitz – the Holocaust’s deadliest camp that saw 1.1 million perish between 1940-1945 – 37 percent of Ohioans did not know of the camp.

More disturbingly, however, while 30 percent nationwide have seen Nazi imagery on social media platforms in the past five years, nearly double the share of Ohioans – 59 percent – said the same.

“The most important lesson is that we can’t lose any more time,” Greg Schneider, executive vice president of the Claims Conference, told NBC News. “If we let these trends continue for another generation, the crucial lessons from this terrible part of history could be lost.”

A further breakdown of Ohio results shows things like:

  • 63% associated the Holocaust with World War II, while others linked it to World War I (20%) and even the Civil War (6%) and Vietnam War (2%).
  • 5% were not familiar with Adolf Hilter.
  • 4% believe the Holocaust didn’t happen and 12% think the number of Jews who died in it has been greatly exaggerated.

Ohio in bottom half of states

Study authors tabulated results for each state and ranked them with a score out of 100 percent. Wisconsin (42%) ranked first, with Minnesota, Massachusetts, Maine, Kansas, Nebraska and Pennsylvania the only other states to break 30%. Arkansas (17%) brought up the rear.

Ohio (24%), meanwhile, is in a six-way tie for 32nd with Alabama, Missouri, Oklahoma, Rhode Island and Tennessee.

The study polled equal numbers of respondents in age groups 18-24, 25-29, 30-34 and 35-39. Thirty-one percent were enrolled in college at the time. The study’s public release, however, did not provide margins of error.

A silver lining from the study is that 81 percent in Ohio and 80 percent nationwide believe it is important to continue teaching about the Holocaust, in part, so it does not happen again. But one unsettling contemporary finding is that 59 percent nationwide said something like the Holocaust could happen again today.

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