A new survey ranks younger Idahoans among the most well-educated in the country when it comes to the Holocaust, but there’s room for improvement, according to one expert.
The survey was commissioned by the Claims Conference, an organization that lobbies for Holocaust education and for reparations from Germany for survivors.
According to the survey, most of the Gen-Zers and Millennials surveyed in Idaho knew basic facts about the Holocaust, like that it was perpetrated by Adolf Hitler and Nazi Germany, or that it even happened in the first place. One-third of young people nationally either deny the Holocaust took place, or that the number of Jews killed was significantly exaggerated.
Dan Prinzing, the director for the Wasmuth Center for Human Rights in Boise, said that’s encouraging, since Idaho doesn’t require schools to specifically teach students about the Holocaust.
“What it speaks to is the depth of instruction that certain educators are bringing in their classroom,” Prinzing said.
But there are gaps in knowledge: Nearly 60% of those surveyed in Idaho didn’t know that six million Jews were killed during the Holocaust and 40% couldn’t name a single concentration camp.
Nationally, 63% of younger people didn’t know the full death toll and nearly half didn’t know the name of a concentration camp.
Prinzing said that’s discouraging. But in addition to teaching people about those horrific statistics and places, it’s also critical to teach how the Holocaust started – with words and propaganda.
“If we don’t look at when did the Holocaust really begin, well that’s going to take dedicated instruction. That’s going to take more than a fly-by factoid.”
Doing so, he said, would push back against the 13% of younger people in Idaho who think it’s acceptable to have neo-Nazi views. Another 19% said they weren’t sure if it was acceptable.
Prinzing also said teaching the origins of the Holocaust would help prevent something similar from happening today, something two-thirds of respondents think could come to pass.
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