The study shows that the Netherlands do not know about the Holocaust

GAGA – A Jewish group that commissioned a Holocaust awareness survey in the Netherlands said on Wednesday that the results showed a “worrying lack of awareness of key historical facts about the Holocaust”, prompting calls for better education in the country that was the birthplace of Anne Frank’s diarist and her family.

The poll, commissioned by the New York-based Conference on Jewish Material Claims against Germany, found that the number of respondents who believed the Holocaust was a myth was higher than in any of the other five countries previously surveyed, with 23 percent of adults under the age of 40 years and 12 percent of all respondents believe the Holocaust is a myth or that the number of Jews killed is greatly exaggerated.

It also found that 54% of all respondents — and 59% of people under the age of 40 — did not know that 6 million Jews had been killed. About 29 percent believe it is 2 million or less.

“It’s horrible,” 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 who lived in the Netherlands before World War II, 102,000 were killed in the Holocaust. Another 2,000 Jewish refugees in the Netherlands were also killed during the genocide.

Despite this dark history, 53% of respondents do not name the Netherlands as the country where the Holocaust took place. Only 22% of all respondents could identify Westerbork, a transit camp in the eastern Netherlands where Jews, including Anne Frank, were sent before deportation. Now the camp is a museum and a place of remembrance.

The survey found that 60% of respondents had not visited the Anne Frank House Museum in Amsterdam, the canalside 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 found and subsequently deported.

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

Eda Verdoner, the Netherlands’ national coordinator for the fight against anti-Semitism, said in a statement that it was “shocking to see that 23% of Millennials and Generation Z believe the Holocaust is either a myth or an exaggeration.”

He said the finding “points to a growing gap in knowledge and awareness. We must do a better job in our schools to combat Holocaust misrepresentation wherever we find it.”

More than three-quarters of those surveyed – 77% – said it was important to continue learning about the Holocaust, in part to prevent it from happening again, while 66% agreed that teaching the Holocaust should be compulsory in schools.

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

“To deal with this trend, we need to put more emphasis on Holocaust education in our schools around the world. If we don’t, denial will soon outweigh knowledge, and future generations will be unable to learn the important lessons of the Holocaust.”

Only half of respondents said they supported recent moves by Dutch leaders to acknowledge and apologize for the country’s failure to protect Jews in the Holocaust. Among respondents under the age of 40, this figure dropped to 44%.

Prime Minister Mark Rutte three years ago apologized for the failure of officials in the Nazi-occupied country during World War II to do more to prevent the deportation and killing 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 carried an important modern message “in our time, when anti-Semitism is not far away.” The monument says – no, he shouts – be alert.”

It is planned to open a Holocaust museum next year next to the monument.

The poll, with a margin of error of 2%, included interviews with 2,000 Dutch adults aged 18 and over throughout the Netherlands in December. The Claims Conference negotiates restitution for Holocaust victims.

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