Poll finds most people in UK don’t know how many Jews perished in Holocaust

Barely a third could name a concentration camp, and one in ten believe the mass murder of Jewish people during WWII is either greatly exaggerated or a myth

The Children of the Kindertransport sculpture, outside Liverpool Street Station in London (John Chase, 2006)
The Children of the Kindertransport sculpture, outside Liverpool Street Station in London (John Chase, 2006)

In a survey among 2,000 adult Britons, 52 percent did not seem to know how many Jews died in the Holocaust and 32% couldn’t name a single concentration camp.

The Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany, or Claims Conference, on Wednesday published the results of the survey, which it conducted in the United Kingdom in October ahead of the anniversary of the 1938 Kristallnacht pogroms in Germany and Austria on November 10.

“We are very concerned to see the profound gaps in knowledge of the Holocaust,” said Gideon Taylor, the president of the Claims Conference, which is the body representing Jewish communities and organizations in reparations talks with Germany.

Although 63% were able to name the Auschwitz concentration camp, just 14% recalled Bergen-Belsen, 10% Dachau, and 6% Treblinka.

Nearly a quarter, 22%, said they believe less than two million Jews died during the Holocaust. One in ten agreed that “the Holocaust is a myth or has been greatly exaggerated.”

There was also poor knowledge of Britain’s actions to save victims during the Holocaust, with 67% believing all, or at least, some Jewish immigration was allowed. However, Britain did not allow any Jewish refugees in as soon as the war started.

Also, 76% of respondents did not know what the Kindertransport was, a campaign in 1938-1939 that brought nearly 10,000 Jewish children from Europe to Britain to save them from the Holocaust.

“It is particularly disappointing to find that the Kindertransport, an important historic chapter, that reflected the best of humanity and should serve as a beacon of hope in the darkest of times, is being forgotten,” said Greg Schneider, Claims Conference executive vice president.

Jewish children boarding ship as part of a kindertransport out of Nazi occupied Europe. (Courtesy of Pamela Sturhoofd)

There was firm support for continuing Holocaust education in schools (88%), partly to prevent it from happening again, a development that 56% believe is possible.

The organization’s findings about levels of Holocaust awareness in Britain suggest Americans are less knowledgeable than Britons.

In a Claims Conference survey in the United States last year, 31% of respondents said they believed that substantially fewer than 6 million Jews were killed during the Holocaust. Almost half of Americans, or 45%, couldn’t name a single concentration camp. The survey had a 2% error of margin.

In the same survey, 76% said they had never heard of the Kindertransport.

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