The Worldwide Problem of Holocaust Ignorance – and the Barriers to Solving It (History News Network)

Some of the most populous states passed laws between 1985 and 1995, covering nearly one-third of the US population, requiring the teaching of the Holocaust in public schools. In each case, the law specified that knowledge about the Holocaust ought to be connected to human rights issues. Prejudice and discrimination must be identified with genocide, leading to an emphasis on “the personal responsibility that each citizen bears to fight racism and hatred whenever and wherever it happens” (New Jersey) and “encouraging tolerance of diversity” (Florida). As the wording of these laws demonstrates, teaching about the Holocaust is a political act. Because encouraging diversity and fighting prejudice are politically controversial, Holocaust education is a partisan political act, and always has been.

Despite such laws, ignorance about the Holocaust is widespread in America, especially among young people. The millennial generation should have been exposed to Holocaust teaching in schools, especially in those states that require it. But they know little about the Holocaust. Two-thirds of millennials do not know what Auschwitz was; half cannot name one concentration camp; about 40% believe that fewer than 2 million Jews were murdered; 20% are not sure if they have ever heard of the Holocaust.

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