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Research shows a lack of Holocaust awareness in the Netherlands

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THE HAGUE, Netherlands — A Jewish group that commissioned a study of Holocaust awareness in the Netherlands said Wednesday that the results showed “a disturbing lack of awareness of key historical facts about the Holocaust.” to diarist Anne Frank and her family.

The survey commissioned by the New York-based Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany found that the number of respondents who believe the Holocaust is a myth was higher than in any of the other five previously surveyed countries, with 23 percent of adults among 40 and 12 percent of all respondents believe the holocaust is a myth or that the number of murdered Jews is greatly exaggerated.

It also found that 54% of all respondents – and 59% of those under the age of 40 – are unaware that 6 million Jews were murdered. About 29 percent believe the number is 2 million or less.

“It’s terrible,” Max Arpels Lezer, a Dutch survivor whose mother was murdered in Auschwitz, told The Associated Press.

“They should know their own national history – that so many Jewish people were killed in the Holocaust and I think it’s a shame,” he added.

Of the 140,000 Jews who lived in the Netherlands before World War II, 102,000 were murdered in the Holocaust. Another 2,000 Jewish refugees in the Netherlands were killed in the genocide.

Despite that grim history, 53% of the respondents do not mention the Netherlands as a country where the Holocaust took place. Only 22 percent of all respondents could identify Westerbork, a transit camp in the eastern Netherlands where Jews, including Anne Frank, were sent before being deported. The camp is now a museum and memorial.

The survey found that 60% of respondents have not visited the Anne Frank House museum in Amsterdam – the building on the canal where Anne, her sister, parents and four other Jews hid from the Nazis from 1942 to August 1944. occupiers of the Dutch capital. then deported.

Anne and her sister, Margot, died in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. Of the eight Jews who were in hiding in the Secret Annex in Amsterdam, only Anne’s father, Otto, survived the Holocaust.

Eddo Verdoner, Dutch National Coordinator for Countering Anti-Semitism, said in a statement that it was “shocking to see that 23% of millennials and Gen Z believe the Holocaust is a myth or exaggerated”.

He said the finding “points to a growing gap in knowledge and awareness. We need to do better in our schools to combat Holocaust distortion wherever we find it.”

More than three quarters of those surveyed – 77% – said it is important to continue teaching about the Holocaust, in part to prevent it from happening again, while 66% agree that Holocaust education should be compulsory in schools.

“Survey after survey, we continue to witness a decline in knowledge and awareness about the Holocaust. Equally disturbing is the trend toward denial and distortion of the Holocaust,” Gideon Taylor, president of the Claims Conference, said in a statement.

“To address this trend, we need to pay more attention to Holocaust education in our schools worldwide. If we don’t, denial will soon outweigh knowledge, and future generations will not be exposed to the crucial lessons of the Holocaust.”

Only half of respondents said they supported recent speeches by Dutch leaders to acknowledge and apologize for the country’s failure to protect Jews in the Holocaust. Among the respondents under the age of 40, this number fell to 44%.

Three years ago, Prime Minister Mark Rutte apologized for the failure of officials in the Nazi-occupied country during World War II to do more to prevent the deportation and murder of Jews. In 2021 he opened a Holocaust memorial in Amsterdam. At the time, Rutte called the era “a black page in our country’s history” and said the monument also has an important contemporary message “in our time when anti-Semitism is never far away. The monument says – no, it screams – be vigilant. ”

A Holocaust museum will open next year near the memorial.

The study, with a 2% margin of error, involved interviews with 2,000 Dutch adults aged 18 and over across the Netherlands in December. The Claims Conference negotiates restitution for Holocaust victims.

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