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Survey Finds Lack of Holocaust Knowledge Among American Young Adults

FILE - Holocaust survivor Shalom Stamberg holds a book with a photo of himself in Auschwitz just before the start of an annual Holocaust memorial ceremony, in Haifa, Israel, April 21, 2020.

A “shocking” number of American young adults lack a basic understanding of the Holocaust, according to a new survey.

According to the first-ever, state-by-state survey of American Millennials and Gen Z (ages 18 to 39), 63% do not know that 6 million Jews were exterminated by Nazis, and 36% thought the number was “two million or fewer.”

Nearly a quarter of those surveyed (23%) said they believed the Holocaust was a myth, had been exaggerated or weren’t sure.

Commissioned by the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany, also known as the Claims Conference, the study found “particularly disquieting” that nearly 20% of young people in the state of New York thought Jews were responsible for the Holocaust. This view was held by 11% nationally.

"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 Claims Conference President Gideon Taylor in a statement.

"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 survey also found that young Americans couldn’t name one of the more than 40,000 concentration camps or ghettos established during World War II. Fifty-six percent could not identify Auschwitz-Birkenau, the most infamous concentration camp.

Nearly half of those surveyed said they’d seen Holocaust denial or distortion posts on social media or elsewhere online.

The survey found that 64% think Holocaust education should be compulsory.

Data was collected among adults 18 to 39 years old from 1,000 interviews nationwide and 200 interviews in each state.