A Third Of People In Major European Countries Know Little Or Nothing About The Holocaust

Many Europeans also hold anti-Semitic beliefs, a CNN poll confirms.

Many Europeans don’t know much about the Holocaust, and anti-Semitic beliefs are still fairly widespread among residents of at least seven European countries, according a recent CNN/ComRes survey.

A combined third of European respondents said they knew “just a little” about the Holocaust (30 percent) or had “never heard” of it (4 percent), per the CNN poll, which was carried out in September.

The Holocaust was the systematic, state-sponsored persecution and murder of 6 million Jews by Adolf Hitler’s Nazi regime in Germany and throughout Europe from 1933 to 1945. Millions of non-Jewish people ― including priests, Jehovah’s Witnesses, gay people, Roma people and people with disabilities ― also died at the hands of the Nazis. There are thousands of Holocaust survivors still alive today.

The CNN survey, conducted online by the pollster ComRes, interviewed 7,092 people in Austria, France, Germany, Great Britain, Hungary, Poland and Sweden.

The survey found that anti-Semitic views are common in Europe, with 1 in 10 respondents saying they feel unfavorably toward Jews in their country. (Over a third said they feel unfavorably toward Muslims.) More than a quarter of respondents said they believe Jews have too much influence in business and finance, and about 1 in 5 said Jews have too much influence in media and politics.

When it comes to knowledge of the Holocaust, Americans don’t fare much better. According to a survey of Americans earlier this year, 11 percent either had not heard of the Holocaust or weren’t sure whether they’d heard of it. And more than 40 percent did not know what Auschwitz was ― perhaps the most infamous of the Nazis’ many concentration camps.

A Holocaust memorial near Treblinka, Poland, a former German Nazi extermination camp. Treblinka was second only to Auschwitz
A Holocaust memorial near Treblinka, Poland, a former German Nazi extermination camp. Treblinka was second only to Auschwitz in the number of Jews killed there by the Nazis.

Anti-Semitism has been on the rise in the U.S., with the number of anti-Semitic incidents increasing nearly 60 percent in 2017, per a report from the Anti-Defamation League earlier this year. Last month, a mass shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue left 11 people dead, in the deadliest attack against the Jewish community in U.S. history.

In Europe, French Prime Minister Édouard Philippe said earlier this month that after a decline over the past two years, the number of anti-Semitic acts in France jumped more than 69 percent in the first nine months of 2018.

“We are far from finished with anti-Semitism,” the prime minister wrote on Facebook.

Nearly 20 percent of 18- to 34-year-old respondents in France said they’d never heard of the Holocaust, per CNN’s poll.

Still, 62 percent of the Europeans polled said that commemorating the Holocaust helps ensure such atrocities will never happen again, and half said it helps combat anti-Semitism today.

About 44 percent of Europeans in CNN’s poll said anti-Semitism is a growing problem in their country today. But 18 percent blamed Jews themselves for the problem, claiming that most anti-Semitism is a response to the everyday behavior of Jewish people.