Thursday is Holocaust Remembrance Day, and a new survey suggests the day is sorely needed. The results show that many Americans, particularly young adults, lack a basic understanding of the Nazi genocide during World War II. Though 96% of respondents said the Holocaust took place, 31% believe a maximum of 2 million Jews were killed, well under the actual figure of about 6 million, reports the New York Times. The percentage increased to 41% among millennials, defined as those aged 18 to 34. Some 41% of Americans and 66% of millennials had no idea about Auschwitz, the death camp in Nazi-occupied Poland where an estimated 1.1 million were killed, per WFTS.
The executive vice president of the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany, which seeks restitution for Holocaust victims and their heirs and commissioned the February survey of 1,350 respondents, says the gaps in understanding are "troubling" given that some 400,000 Holocaust survivors are still living. "Imagine when there are no longer survivors here to tell their stories," he says, stressing the importance of Holocaust education. He's backed by survey respondents, 93% of whom said it was important to teach about the Holocaust in schools. While experts say there's nothing quite like hearing about the genocide directly from a survivor, museums are preparing for a time when no survivors remain, using holograms and recorded testimony to keep their stories alive, notes the Times. (Read more Holocaust stories.)