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“New Study Reveals Nearly One Quarter of Dutch Millennials and GenZ Believe the Holocaust Was a Myth or Exaggerated”

Only Half of Respondents Are In Favor Of Recent Efforts By Dutch Public Figures to Acknowledge and Apologize for the Netherlands’ Failure to Protect the Jews During the Holocaust

The Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany (Claims Conference) released on January 25, 2023 a Netherlands Holocaust Knowledge and Awareness Survey, including a breakdown of Millennial and Gen Z respondents, exposing a disturbing lack of awareness of key historical facts about the Holocaust and the Netherlands’ own connection to Holocaust history.

The Claims Conference has conducted seven surveys across six countries examining Holocaust knowledge and awareness worldwide:
Netherlands, U.K., France, Austria, Canada, U.S. National, U.S. State.

Key Findings
Denial and Distortion:
The number of Dutch adults who believe the Holocaust is a myth was higher than any country previously surveyed; 12% of all respondents believe the Holocaust is a myth or the number of Jews killed has been greatly exaggerated, while 9% are unsure. These numbers are higher among Dutch Millennials and Gen Z, where nearly one-quarter (23%) believe the Holocaust is a myth or the number of Jews killed has been greatly exaggerated, while 12% are unsure.

Misperceptions About Holocaust Death Toll:
More than half of all respondents (54% of all respondents and 59% of Millennial and Gen Z) do not know that six million Jews were murdered, and 29% believe that two million or fewer Jews were killed during the Holocaust. Alarmingly, this number grew to 37% of Millennials and Gen Z who believe that two million or fewer Jews were murdered during the Holocaust.

Neo-Nazism and Antisemitism:
22% of Millennials and Gen Z feel it is acceptable for an individual to support neo-Nazi views and 13% are unsure. 12% of all Dutch respondents feel it is acceptable and 11% are unsure.

National Responsibility and Acknowledgement:
When asked whether they support or oppose recent efforts by Dutch public figures to acknowledge and apologize for the Netherlands’ failure to protect Jews during the Holocaust, only 44% of Dutch Millennials and Gen Z support and half (50%) of all Dutch respondents support.

Although there were several transit camps in the Netherlands used to deport more than 70% of the country’s Jewish population to concentration camps, and one of the most recognizable names of the Holocaust, Anne Frank, was in hiding in Amsterdam, a majority of Dutch respondents (53% of all respondents and 60% of Millennials and Gen Z) “did not cite” their own country as a country where the Holocaust took place.

“Survey after survey, we continue to witness a decline in Holocaust knowledge and awareness. Equally disturbing is the trend towards Holocaust denial and distortion,” said Gideon Taylor, Claims Conference President. “To address this trend, we must put a greater focus on Holocaust education in our schools globally. If we do not, denial will soon outweigh knowledge, and future generations will have no exposure to the critical lessons of the Holocaust.”

Greg Schneider, Claims Conference Executive Vice President, said, “One of the more troubling trends we continue to see in these surveys is the rise in numbers of people who believe the Holocaust was a myth or that the number of Jews murdered is exaggerated. In the Netherlands survey, 23% of Millennial and Gen Z respondents believe that the Holocaust was a myth or that the number of those murdered was greatly exaggerated. The numbers overall regarding denial and distortion are also higher compared to other countries we have surveyed. This is a denigration to those who lost their entire family during the Holocaust. On a positive note, this survey, like all of the surveys we have conducted, indicates a strong desire for improved Holocaust education in schools across the world.”

While many of the identified gaps in Holocaust knowledge among Dutch adults are shocking, there is a clear desire for Holocaust education. Two-thirds (66 percent) of Dutch respondents and a majority of Dutch Millennials and Gen Z agree that Holocaust education should be compulsory in school. And, 77 percent of all respondents say it is important to continue to teach about the Holocaust, in part, so it does not happen again.

Max Arpels Lezer, a Holocaust survivor from the Netherlands, said, “As a Holocaust survivor from the Netherlands, it is important to me that future generations learn about and understand the history of the Holocaust. I am upset and deeply concerned by these findings. That many of my countrymen do not even know their own national history. Without education, future generations will not understand the full impact of the Holocaust in my country. It is of utmost importance for us who survived that the future generations carry forward our testimonies even when we are gone.”

Emile Schrijver, survey taskforce member and General Director of the Jewish Cultural Quarter in Amsterdam, said, “While many of the historical facts related to the Holocaust in the Netherlands are not known, I am encouraged by the number of respondents to this survey that believe Holocaust education is important. We know that we can work together with educators to ensure the trends we see in Holocaust denial and distortion and the rise in antisemitism are countered by a robust curriculum of Holocaust education. This must be our focus moving forward.”

Matthew Bronfman, Claims Conference Task Force Chairman, said, “The ongoing Holocaust Knowledge and Awareness surveys continue to build a strong case for Holocaust education. As we explore the base of knowledge about the Holocaust around the world, we are competing with the rapid growth of social media and the platforms those channels provide to those who would deny and distort the history of the Holocaust. Now more than ever, we need to be lending support to teachers in their current efforts around Holocaust education and expanding their resources so we do not lose this battle to the detractors.”

Eddo Verdoner, National Coordinator on Combating Antisemitism, the Netherlands, states, “It is shocking to see that 23% of Millennials and Gen Z believe the Holocaust is either a myth or has been exaggerated. This points to a growing gap in knowledge and awareness. We must do better in our schools to fight Holocaust distortion wherever we find it. Additionally, 66 percent of all respondents and 57% of Millennials and Gen Z feel Holocaust education should be compulsory in school, while that’s the majority, the survey shows the importance of a more robust effort to engage future generations in Holocaust history.”

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