‘Never heard of it’: Third of Europeans know ‘little’ or ‘nothing’ about Holocaust, survey says

Knowledge of the Holocaust is lacking in Europe, according to a CNN/ComRes survey which found that a third of Europeans polled admitted they knew little or nothing about the genocide committed by Adolf Hitler.

One in 20 Europeans in the countries surveyed by the news outlet has never even heard of the Holocaust. The lack of knowledge was particularly rampant in France, where one out of five people, between the ages of 18 and 34, said they’d never heard of it.

In Austria, where Hitler was born, 12 percent of young people said they had never heard of the Holocaust. Austria also had the highest number of people who said they knew “just a little” about it; with four out of 10 Austrian adults giving that response.

But Europeans do apparently see the benefit of keeping the memory of the Holocaust alive, with two-thirds saying that doing so helps ensure that similar horrors will never happen again. That number rose to 80 percent in Poland, home to the Nazi death camp Auschwitz.

Anti-Semitism & Jewish stereotypes

Although half of Europeans said that commemorating the Holocaust helps fight anti-Semitism, it hasn't stopped anti-Semitic views from existing.

For instance, 40 percent of respondents said that Jews are at risk of racial violence in their countries. Half of them said their governments should do more to fight anti-Semitism.

Jewish stereotypes are also rampant in Europe, with four out of 10 people in Poland and Hungary saying that Jews have too much influence in global business and finance. Around one in three people in those countries said Jews were too influential in political affairs around the world.

One in five people in France, Germany, and Austria said Jews had too much influence in the media, while a quarter said they had too much influence on wars and conflicts.

However, when asked how much of the world’s population is Jewish, around two thirds of respondents guessed too high. A quarter of Hungarians, for example, estimated that the world is more than 20% Jewish. They were off by a factor of 100, as around 0.2% is actually Jewish, according to Pew Research Center’s Global Religious Landscape study.

Thoughts on Israel

Twenty-eight percent of respondents said that most anti-Semitism in their countries was a response to actions taken by Israel, while 18 percent said it was due to the everyday behavior of Jewish people.

Still, only one in 10 Europeans surveyed said they personally had an unfavorable view of Jews. However, the number was much higher in Hungary, where 19 percent admitted that they did. The number was 15 percent in Poland.

One-third of those surveyed said that Israel uses the Holocaust to justify its actions.

The CNN/ComRes poll surveyed 7,092 adults in seven countries: Austria, Britain, France, Germany, Hungary, Poland, and Sweden. Interviews took place between September 7 and September 20.

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