Poll shows lack of Holocaust awareness in the Netherlands


THE HAGUE, The Netherlands (AP) — The Jewish group that commissioned the Holocaust awareness study in the Netherlands said Wednesday that the results show “an alarming lack of awareness of key historical facts about the Holocaust,” prompting calls for better education in the country. it was the home of the diarist Anne Frank and her family.

A survey conducted by the New York Conference on Jewish Material Claims against Germany found that the number of respondents who considered the Holocaust a myth was higher than in any of the other five countries previously surveyed: 23 percent of adults under 40 and 12 percent of all respondents consider the Holocaust myth or the number of Jews killed is greatly exaggerated.

It also found that 54% of all respondents – and 59% under the age of 40 – do not know that 6 million Jews were killed. About 29 percent believe the figure is 2 million or less.

“It’s terrible,” Max Arpels Leser, a Dutch survivor whose mother was killed in Auschwitz, told The Associated Press.

“They should know their national history – that so many Jews were killed in the Holocaust and I think it’s a shame,” he added.

Of the 140,000 Jews living in the Netherlands before World War II, 102,000 were killed during the Holocaust. Another 2,000 Jewish refugees in the Netherlands were also killed in the genocide.

Despite this dark history, 53% of those polled do not name the Netherlands as the country where the Holocaust took place. Only 22 percent of all respondents were able to name Westerbork, a transit camp in the eastern Netherlands where Jews, including Anne Frank, were sent before being deported. The camp is now a museum and monument.

The survey showed that 60% of respondents did not visit the Anne Frank House Museum in Amsterdam, the canal-side building where Anne, her sister, parents and four other Jews hid from the Nazi occupiers of the Dutch capital from 1942 until August 1944, when they were discovered and killed. subsequently deported.

Anna and her sister Margot died in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. Of the eight Jews who hid in the secret annex in Amsterdam, only Anna’s father, Otto, survived the Holocaust.

Eddo Verdoner, the Netherlands national coordinator for combating anti-Semitism, said in a statement that it is “shocking that 23% of millennials and Gen Z consider the Holocaust to be either a myth or an exaggeration.”

He said the discovery “indicates a growing gap in knowledge and awareness. We must do better in our schools to combat the distortions of the Holocaust wherever we find them.”

More than three-quarters of those surveyed – 77% – said it was important to keep talking about the Holocaust, partly to ensure it doesn’t happen again, and 66% agreed that teaching about the Holocaust should be mandatory in school.

“Poll after poll, we continue to see a decline in knowledge and awareness of the Holocaust. Equally troubling is the trend towards Holocaust denial and distortion,” Claims Conference President Gideon Taylor said in a statement.

“To cope with this trend, we must pay more attention to the teaching of the Holocaust in our schools around the world. If we do not do this, denial will soon outweigh knowledge, and future generations will not learn the critical lessons of the Holocaust.”

Only half of the respondents said they supported recent speeches by Dutch leaders in which they acknowledged and apologized for the country’s failure to protect Jews during the Holocaust. This number has dropped to 44% among respondents under the age of 40.

Three years ago, Prime Minister Mark Rutte apologized for not doing more by officials in the Nazi-occupied country during World War II to prevent the deportation and murder of Jews. In 2021, he opened a Holocaust monument in Amsterdam. At the time, Rutte called the era “a black page in our country’s history” and said the monument also had an important contemporary message “in our time when anti-Semitism is never far off”. The monument says – no, it shouts – be vigilant.

Next year, a Holocaust museum is planned to open near the monument.

The survey, with a margin of error of 2%, included interviews with 2,000 Dutch adults aged 18 and over in the Netherlands in December. The Claims Conference is negotiating reparations for victims of the Holocaust.

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