Almost a quarter of young Americans believe the Holocaust was a myth, or was exaggerated, and more than 10 per cent believe Jews actually caused the genocide, according to a new survey.
Just under two-thirds of the 11,000 18-39-year-olds polled did not know that 6 million Jews were killed in the Holocaust and 12 per cent had never even heard of the genocide.
And around half could not name a single concentration camp or ghetto despite over 40,000 being built during the Second World War.
The study, commissioned by the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany, should be a wake-up call, says Gideon Taylor, the group's president.
“The results are both shocking and saddening, and they underscore why we must act now while Holocaust survivors are still with us to voice their stories,” Mr Taylor said.
“We need to understand why we aren’t doing better in educating a younger generation about the Holocaust and the lessons of the past. This needs to serve as a wake-up call to us all, and as a road map of where government officials need to act.”
The survey is the first to give a detailed picture of the level of understanding about the Holocaust state by state. It ranks each state by whether young people have definitely heard about the Holocaust, whether they can name one concentration camp, death camp or ghetto and whether they know 6 million Jews were killed.
The highest ranking state was Wisconsin, where 42 per cent could satisfy all three criteria. Arkansas performed most poorly, with just 17 per cent of young people able to meet all three requirements.
Eleven per cent of respondents believed Jews actually caused the Holocaust, with that number rising to 19 per cent in New York state. This is despite the fact that New York has the highest Jewish population in the country.
Despite, or perhaps because of, the astonishing levels of ignorance among America’s youth, 64 per cent of respondents believe that Holocaust education should be mandatory in American schools.