Quarter of French millennials ignorant about Nazi horrors
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Quarter of French millennials ignorant about Nazi horrors

Survey by Claims Conference highlighted need for Shoah education with 57 percent of those polled unaware that six million Jews died.

Students on the Holocaust Educational Trust (HET)/UJS Lessons from Auschwitz Universities Project, visiting Auschwitz. Photo credit: Yakir Zur
Students on the Holocaust Educational Trust (HET)/UJS Lessons from Auschwitz Universities Project, visiting Auschwitz. Photo credit: Yakir Zur

A quarter of French millennials either don’t know or aren’t sure what the Holocaust was and almost half don’t know about French collaborators, according to a new poll.

The results were revealed by Julius Berman, president of the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany (Claims Conference), on Tuesday, saying it highlighted the need for Holocaust education.

Of all French adult respondents, 57 percent did not know that six million Jews were killed during the Holocaust, but among millennial and Generation Z respondents, that number jumped significantly to 69 percent. Of this age group, 44 percent believed that less than two million Jews were killed during the Holocaust.

Asked about France’s Holocaust history, just 56 percent of millennials and Gen Z were aware of the historical mass arrest and round-up at Vel d’Hiv, compared to 74 percent of French respondents overall, while only two percent of all respondents knew about the Drancy internment camp, in a Paris suburb.

“Once again, we are seeing a significant lapse in understanding about the Holocaust, a history that is critically important,” said Berman. “Our current education is not ample; it is failing us and the disturbing trend of Holocaust ignorance we are seeing globally demands increased education.”

Similar surveys have been conducted in the United States, Canada and Austria, but analysts said the outcomes from the French study indicate “alarming gaps” in knowledge of historical facts about the Holocaust.

Matthew Bronfman, Claims Conference task force chair for the survey, said: “It is devastating to learn that younger generations do not understand the impact of the Holocaust. It was an attempted extermination of an entire people. Without knowledge, how can we ensure that prejudice and hatred are confronted?”

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