Most American adults don’t know how many Jews were killed in the Holocaust

  • JTAHolocaustSurvey
(JTA) Half of American adults are unaware of basic facts regarding Nazism and the Holocaust including the number of Jews who were killed and how Nazis came to power.
by BEN SALES | Jan 30, 2020

Those are some of the findings of a new study by the Pew Research Center released on Tuesday, about a week ahead of the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. The study asked nearly 13 000 respondents, Jewish and non-Jewish adults and teenagers, four questions about the Holocaust.

Most knew that the Holocaust took place between 1930 and 1950, and that Nazi ghettos were areas of cities where Jews were forced to live. But only 45% knew that 6 million Jews died in the Holocaust. About 12% thought that the number was lower or higher, and 29% didn’t know the answer. Among the teens, only 38% knew the number of Jews killed.

In the Pew study, 43% of the American adults knew that Adolf Hitler became chancellor of Germany through a democratic process. A quarter of adults thought Hitler came to power through violence, and another 25% didn’t know. Only a third of the teenage respondents, ages 13 to 17, knew that Hitler assumed the position democratically.

Overall, in the Pew study, nearly half of the adults knew the answers to three or four of the questions, while 16% to 18% knew the answers to zero, one, or two questions. Teens answered all four questions correctly at lower rates than adults. College graduates answered all four questions correctly at above-average rates.

The survey was conducted in February 2019 with a total sample of 10 971 American adults.

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