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Persecution of Jews in the Third Reich
In the summer of 1942, Jews from the Warsaw ghetto were loaded onto freight cars and transported to the Treblinka death camp. © CAF/dpa

Long queues are normal in front of the Anne Frank Museum in Amsterdam. But the knowledge of many young Dutchmen in particular about the Nazi persecution of the Jews is patchy.

Frankfurt/Amsterdam – The scope of the Holocaust is unknown to many Dutch people and especially to the young 78 years after the liberation of Auschwitz. Some even speak of a myth. That is the result of a study by the Claims Conference, which was published a few days before the International Day of Remembrance for the Victims of National Socialism.

The Claims Conference was established after World War II to enforce the claims of Jewish survivors against Germany and continues to serve Holocaust survivors and their descendants today. 2,000 Dutch people over the age of 18 were interviewed. The results of Millennials born between 1980 and 1994 and the so-called Generation Z born after 1995 were recorded separately.

Although there were several transit camps in the Netherlands from which Jews were deported to concentration camps such as Auschwitz, 59 percent of all respondents and 71 percent of millennials and Generation Z (Gen Z) were unable to name a single transit camp in their own country. . Only 22 percent of all respondents and 17 percent of Millennials and Gen Z were able to name Westerbork, the Dutch transit camp Anne Frank was taken to before she was deported to Auschwitz.

Ignorance of history, indifference to the present.

Anne Frank herself, who lived in hiding with her family in Amsterdam during the German occupation of the Netherlands, was known to 89 percent of those surveyed. However, 32 percent of millennials and 27 percent of all adults surveyed did not know that she died in a concentration camp.

The full extent of the Holocaust was similarly unknown to many: 54 percent of all respondents and 59 percent of Millennials and Gen Z were unaware that six million Jews were murdered. A full 29 percent believed that two million or fewer Jews were killed during the Holocaust. For Millennials and Gen Z, the ratio was even higher at 37 percent. Nearly a quarter of Dutch respondents in this age group, or 23 percent, even considered the Holocaust to be a myth or exaggeration. This number is higher than in any other country previously examined, he said.

Looking to the present, there were also troubling results from the study. For example, 22 percent of Millennials and Gen Z found it acceptable for someone to support neo-Nazi views. In the general group of respondents in the Netherlands, the proportion was twelve percent.

“Knowledge and awareness are rapidly eroding”

“Our study from the Netherlands clearly shows us that historical facts are no longer binding, especially among young adults,” said Rüdiger Mahlo, representative of the Claims Conference in Germany. “Knowledge and awareness about the Holocaust is eroding at a shocking rate. Our worst fears are proving justified.”

“With each study, the decline in knowledge and awareness about the Holocaust becomes more visible; at the same time, there is a trend toward denial and distortion of the Holocaust,” warned Gideon Taylor, president of the Claims Conference. As a result of the survey results, he came out in favor of strengthening Holocaust education around the world. Previous studies in France, Austria and Canada, for example, had shown a lack of knowledge about the Holocaust in recent years.

“I am shocked and deeply concerned by the results now presented. Many of my compatriots don’t even know their own national history,” said Dutch Holocaust survivor Max Arpels Lezer. He expects education so that future generations can understand the full scope of the Holocaust. “For us survivors, it is of the utmost importance that future generations continue our testimony even after we are gone.”

auschwitz
The gate of the former German death camp Auschwitz. © Jan Woitas/zb/dpa

According to the survey, the desire for education and information on the subject definitely exists: Two-thirds of Dutch respondents and the majority of Dutch millennials and Generation Z thought Holocaust education should be compulsory in schools. dpa

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