Given the atrocities of the Holocaust, one might conclude that it would be mandatory for educators to teach children about that period when Nazis planned a “Final Solution” to murder world Jewry.
But not every society believes that young people can learn from the Holocaust, and many seem indifferent to the subject. On Jan. 27, International Holocaust Remembrance Day, Dutch soccer fans broke into a chant of “Jews burn best” while observing a game in Rotterdam. Also, earlier last month, Australian consumers discovered that a board game based on the atrocities of World War II was being sold by major retailers – leaving Holocaust survivors horrified.
Across Europe and America, the Holocaust is slowly being forgotten. In Germany, a 2017 poll reported that almost 40 percent of German high school students could not explain what happened in Auschwitz. And a 2018 CNN poll revealed that only about 43 percent of all Germans think that “commemorating the Holocaust helps to combat anti-Semitism today.”
In the United Kingdom, a recent survey found that five percent of adults do not believe the Holocaust took place, and one in 12 believes its scale has been exaggerated. In Canada, a poll reported that half of its residents were unable to name a Nazi concentration camp such as Auschwitz, and most don’t realize that 6 million Jews died in the Holocaust. Among millennials, almost a quarter are not sure they have heard of the Holocaust.
And, a 2018 Claims Conference survey reported that 70 percent of Americans say fewer people seem to care about the Holocaust than they used to. The study also found that nearly one-third of all Americans believe that 2 million or fewer Jews were killed in the Holocaust – far less than the actual figure of 6 million. In addition, almost half of all Americans could not name a single death camp (out of the thousands of camps and ghettos in Europe).
With extremism gaining acceptance in European parliaments, and anti-Semitism being “normalized” in world capitals, people need to be reminded that man is capable of world genocide. In America, and abroad, we need to teach our children – and adults – about a period of recent history that we must prevent from happening again.