Young in dark about Shoah
JC/ YouGov poll reveals shocking ignorance of the Holocaust
MORE THAN a quarter of young Britons “do not know” if the Holocaust happened, a new YouGov poll conducted exclusively for the JC this week reveals.
Asked whether the Holocaust was a “myth”, “had happened but its scale had been exaggerated”, or that “six million Jews had been killed”, 28 per cent of 18- to 29-year-olds responded that they did not know. The overall percentage of “don’t knows” was 17 per cent.
Auschwitz survivor Freddie Knoller, 85, found the figures “frightening”. “I lecture to schools, mostly to children over 16, but this makes me think I should concentrate on that age group [18-29s],” he said. “I don’t know how to get hold of them, though.”
Better news for Holocaust educators was that just one per cent of the overall survey of 1,132 people thought the Holocaust was a myth, and only four per cent believed that the extent of the atrocities had been deliberately exaggerated by Jewish or pro-Israel groups.
Excluding “don’t knows”, respondents were in favour of Britain’s annual Holocaust Memorial Day commemoration by a four-to-one margin. But a sim- ilar majority was against criminalising Holocaust denial in Britain. Opinion was divided on whether HMD should be renamed Genocide Day, reflecting “victims of all persecution throughout the world.” Thirty-five per cent considered that the main focus of the day should be on victims of Nazi persecu- tion, against 31 per cent in favour of Genocide Day. Among the over-50s, there was a 38-32 per cent majority for Genocide Day. In the overall response, 14 per cent felt that “the whole idea of any such day is wrong”.
Only 16 per cent of respondents wanted Holocaust denial to be a criminal offence here, with 63 per cent against. Among the ABC1 social-grade category, 70 per cent were against criminalising Holocaust denial.
Speaking to the JC on Wednesday, Home Secretary John Reid said he deplored “attempts to deny the Holocaust. I want to see effective implementation of the strengthened legislation the government has introduced to deal with hate crimes in recent years.”
On the question of continuing the late-January HMD commemoration, marking the liberation of Auschwitz, 60 per cent were in favour, 15 per cent were opposed, with 25 per cent having no opinion on the matter. Support for the day was highest among women and respondents from the North-East, Yorkshire and Humberside.
Overall, 79 per cent said it was true that six million Jews had been killed. This acknowledgement dropped to 64 per cent among the 18-29s.