When people stop thinking about things, they are eventually forgotten. It’s as though they never happened. A survey released on Thursday found that people are forgetting about the Holocaust, which might help explain the sort of mindset that led to our current sad state of affairs.
Though most Americans surveyed had heard of the Holocaust, an alarming amount lacked basic knowledge about what had actually happened. Unsurprisingly, this ignorance was far more pronounced among millennials, defined by the survey as aged 18-34.
The survey, which was conducted by Schoen Consulting, questioned 1,350 American adults and found the following:
-31 percent of Americans and 41 percent of millennials (who made up 31 percent of the entire sample) think no more than two million Jews were murdered during the Holocaust. (The actual number is believed to be around six million.)
-41 percent of Americans and 66 percent of millennials do not know what Auschwitz is. (The largest and most notorious concentration camp erected by the Nazis.)
-A mere 39 percent of Americans know Hitler was democratically elected.
It’s not all terrible, though. The New York Times points out that almost everyone agreed the Holocaust should be taught in schools, and very few people were of the Holocaust denier camp (less than 4 percent, give or take.)
Greg Shneider, the executive vice president of the Claims Conference put it this way: “The issue is not that people deny the Holocaust; the issue is just that it’s receding from memory,” adding that “people may not know the details themselves, but they still think it’s important. That is very heartening.”
And people are forgetting, because Holocaust survivors are dying. Their number has fallen to just 400,000, with most of them in their 80s and 90s. The NYT accurately notes how “no book, film or traditional exhibition can compare to the voice of a survivor” and how advocates “dread the day when none are left to tell their stories.”
Luckily, there are steps being taken to ensure that never fully happens. Survivors’ recorded testimonies are a feature in multiple museums and memorials around the country and world, with several in the form of powerful, realistic holograms. The ones at the Illinois Holocaust museum are “so real that our audience typically gasps when they see it,” the museum’s chief executive told the NYT.
Forgetting the past means repeating the same mistakes, and the Holocaust is one mistake we can never afford to make again.
h/t New York Times