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Majority of Dutch adults don’t know the Holocaust occurred in the Netherlands, study finds

32% of Millennials and 27% of all adults surveyed said they did not know Anne Frank died in a concentration camp.

The “Arbeit Macht Frei” gate at Auschwitz. Credit: Wikimedia Commons.
The “Arbeit Macht Frei” gate at Auschwitz. Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

The Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany (Claims Conference) on Wednesday released a new study which exposed a disturbing lack of awareness of key historical facts about the Holocaust and the Netherlands’ own connection to Holocaust history.

The “Netherlands Holocaust Knowledge and Awareness Survey” is the latest in a series of studies published by the Claims Conference, which includes the U.S., Canada, Austria, France, U.K. and the U.S. Millennial/50 state survey.

According to the newly released study, 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; although there were several transit camps in the Netherlands used to deport Jews to concentration camps such as Auschwitz, over half (59% of all respondents and 71% of Millennials and Gen Z) could not name a single transit camp that was located in their country.

“Survey after survey, we continue to witness a decline in Holocaust knowledge and awareness,” said Claims Conference President Gideon Taylor. “Equally disturbing is the trend towards Holocaust denial and distortion. 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.”

Major survey findings include:

  • More than half of all respondents (54% of all respondents and 59% of Millennial and Gen Z) do not know that 6 million Jews were murdered, and 29% believe that 2 million or fewer Jews were killed during the Holocaust.
  • Alarmingly, this number grew to 37% of Millennials and Gen Z who believe that 2 million or fewer Jews were murdered during the Holocaust.
  • The number of respondents who believe the Holocaust is a myth was higher than any country previously surveyed, with 23% of Millennials and Gen Z, and 12% of all respondents believing the Holocaust is a myth or the number of Jews killed has been greatly exaggerated; 9% are unsure.
  • 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.
  • 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.

“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,” said Claims Conference Executive Vice President Greg Schneider. “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.”

One of the most iconic names associated with the Holocaust, Anne Frank, lived in hiding in Amsterdam during the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands. While most Dutch respondents (89%) were familiar with Anne Frank, 32% of Millennials and 27% of all adults surveyed do not know Anne Frank died in a concentration camp.

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%) of Dutch respondents and a majority of Dutch Millennials and Gen Z agree that Holocaust education should be compulsory in school; 77% of all respondents say it is important to continue to teach about the Holocaust, in part, so it does not happen again.

“As a Holocaust survivor from the Netherlands,” said Max Arpels Lezer, “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.”

The survey was commissioned by the Claims Conference. Data was collected by Schoen Cooperman Research, with a representative sample of 2,000 interviews with adults aged 18 and over between Dec. 1 and Dec. 20, 2022, across the Netherlands. The survey was funded by the Foundation Remembrance, Responsibility and Future and the German Federal Ministry of Finance as part of the Holocaust Education Program.

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