Holocaust Remembrance Day: Few Americans know the death toll, poll finds

A new survey claims the Holocaust is receding in collective memory, as few Americans know the death toll of Jews.

The Pew Research Center report, “What Americans Know About the Holocaust,” said 45 percent of almost 11,000 Americans surveyed didn’t know the Nazis killed 6 million Jews during World War II.

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The survey had multiple choice answers: 2 percent said fewer than 1 million died in the Holocaust; 12 percent said about 3 million died in the Holocaust;another 12 percent said more than 12 million Jews died in the Holocaust; 29 percent said they were not sure or did not answer.

The survey also reported that many Americans didn’t know the timeframe of the Holocaust in world history: 69 percent said the Holocaust happened between 1930 and 1950; 1 in 10 thought it the Holocaust happened between 1910 and 1930; 2 percent answered between 1890 and 1910; 1 in 100 thought the Holocaust happened between 1950 and1970; 18 percent did not know or gave no answer.

International Holocaust Remembrance Day is Monday, the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz on Jan. 27, 1945. (iStock)

International Holocaust Remembrance Day is Monday, the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz on Jan. 27, 1945. (iStock)

The report asked the question: “Are those who underestimate the death toll simply uninformed, or are they Holocaust deniers – people with anti-Semitic views who ‘claim that the Holocaust was invented or exaggerated by Jews as part of a plot to advance Jewish interests?’”

International Holocaust Remembrance Day is Monday, the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz on Jan. 27, 1945.

The Nazis operated extermination and concentration camps in Poland when Germany occupied the country during World War II.

Auschwitz was the most notorious in a system of death and concentration camps that Nazi Germany operated on territory it occupied across Europe. In all, 1.1 million people were killed there, most of them Jews from across the continent.

World leaders on Thursday denounced the rising threat of anti-Semitism and vowed never to forget the lessons of the Holocaust at a solemn ceremony in Israel marking the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the infamous Auschwitz death camp.

The World Holocaust Forum in Jerusalem, the largest-ever summit of its kind, drew more than 45 world leaders, including German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier.

The Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, Berlin, Germany. (iStock)

The Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, Berlin, Germany. (iStock)

Among the final speakers was Steinmeier, who bemoaned that the atrocity originated in his country.

He said he stood before the audience “laden with the heavy, historical burden of guilt.”

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“Germans deported them. Germans burned numbers on their forearms. Germans tried to dehumanize them, to reduce them to numbers, to erase all memory of them in the extermination camps. They did not succeed,” he said. “I wish I could say that we Germans have learnt from history once and for all. But I cannot say that when hatred is spreading.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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