50% of Americans don’t know how many Jews died in Holocaust

New Pew poll shows that 66% of Americans know the Holocaust involved the mass-murder of Jews, and pluralities of Americans have basic understanding of Holocaust in multiple choice questions.

AMERICANS PROTESTING against trade with the Nazis before World War II. (photo credit: US HOLOCAUST MEMORIAL MUSEUM)
AMERICANS PROTESTING against trade with the Nazis before World War II.
More than half of Americans do not know how many Jews were murdered in the Holocaust, nearly a third do not know when the Holocaust took place, and over half do not know how Nazi leader Adolf Hitler came to power.
These are the findings of a recent survey by the Pew Research Center which have been released today (Wednesday) ahead of the World Holocaust Forum at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem on Thursday.
Although the results displayed a concerning lack of knowledge about the exact details of the Holocaust, the survey did however demonstrate that a plurality of Americans do have a basic understanding of what occurred during the Holocaust when answering multiple choice questions.
The Pew Research Center posed four questions on the Holocaust as an extension to its religious knowledge survey conducted in 2019 which polled 10,429 adults in the US.
In response to the question “How many Jews were killed in the Holocaust,” a plurality, some 45%, chose the answer “approximately 6 million, with 55% giving incorrect answers.
Twenty-nine percent of those surveyed did not know how many Jews were murdered, 12% said more than 12 million, 12% said approximately three million, and 2% said less than one million.
When asked “When did the Holocaust happen?” 69% of respondents said between 1930 and 1950, 18% said they were not sure or did not know, 10% said between 1910 and 1930, 2% between 1890 and 1910, and 1% between 1950 and 1970.
In response to the question “How did Hitler become chancellor of Germany?” 43% chose the correct answer “by democratic political process,” while 57% said either by violently overthrowing the German government, hereditary succession, agreements with nearby countries, or did not know.
Some 63% correctly answer the question “What were Nazi-created ghettos?” with the response “Parts of town where Jews were forced to live,” while another 37% said that ghettos were either places where Jews were killed, factories where Nazis force political opponents to work, housing for poor Nazis or did not know.
In response to the open-ended question “As far as you know, what does ‘the Holocaust’ refer to?” two-thirds wrote in their answer that the Holocaust refers to the attempted annihilation of the Jewish people, or words to that effect, mentioning the mass murder of Jews.
Another 18% mentioned concepts that more loosely associated with the Holocaust, including the general idea of death (6%), the persecution (but not murder) of Jews (4%), or just something about Jewish people (4%).
This group also included some respondents who referenced Hitler, concentration camps, World War II, Nazis or persecution in general without mentioning Jews specifically.
The four multiple-choice questions were also included in a separate survey of approximately 1,800 U.S. teens (ages 13 to 17) who in general displayed lower levels of knowledge about the Holocaust than American adults.
One pertinent revelation of the survey was that those who have visited a Holocaust museum or memorial, and those with a higher level of education were much more likely to get answer the questions correctly.