Americans abysmally ignorant about the Holocaust

There are two articles this year reporting surveys of Americans’ knowledge of the Holocaust. The first is in the Guardian (click on screenshot below), the second is a Pew survey (click on second screenshot). Both give the same results: compared to what you might think, and certainly to readers here, most Americans don’t know all that much about the Holocaust.

Now you might think that the results aren’t that bad, and, as the Pew survey notes, Jews like me tend to know more about the Holocaust than non-Jews, but I still find it amazing, since it’s hard to live in the West without knowing these basic facts.

The Guardian survey involved 1000 nationwide interviews and 200 interviews in each state, all involving young adults (18-39), totaling 11,000 respondents. The Pew Survey involved 10,971 respondents who were part of the Pew Research Center’s American Trends Panel; respondents were of various ages and were asked four questions about the Holocaust. Both show roughly the same thing, though the Pew survey also broke down the data by age, education, degree of “warmness” towards the Jews, political affiliation and so on. I’ll be brief.

A summary of the Guardian study:

Almost two-thirds of young American adults do not know that 6 million Jews were killed during the Holocaust, and more than one in 10 believe Jews caused the Holocaust, a new survey has found, revealing shocking levels of ignorance about the greatest crime of the 20th century.

According to the study of millennial and Gen Z adults aged between 18 and 39, almost half (48%) could not name a single concentration camp or ghetto established during the second world war.

Almost a quarter of respondents (23%) said they believed the Holocaust was a myth, or had been exaggerated, or they weren’t sure. One in eight (12%) said they had definitely not heard, or didn’t think they had heard, about the Holocaust.

Now the “six million” figure is an iconic number, though perhaps fewer people realize that actually the “Holocaust” refers only to the genocide of Jews. The Nazis actually killed far more civilians that that; here are estimates from the U.S. Holocaust Museum:

This figure is 19 million, with Jews, Roma, Soviet prisoners of war, and Jehovah’s Witnesses being those dispatched in the camps. It’s salutary to remember that the Nazis killed not just Jews, but many civilians on their home ground, as well as Roma, homosexuals, and the disabled. Soviet and Polish civilians suffered horribly, many shot on the spot.

At any rate, the fact that the 6 million figure for the Holocaust proper wasn’t known by nearly everyone was a source of anguish to Gideon Taylor, the president of the Conference on Jewish Material Claims against Germans.

The facts that more than 10% of people thought the Jews caused the Holocaust, and 23% thought the Holocaust was a myth or exaggerated, are more disturbing to me, as is the idea that half the respondents couldn’t name a single concentration camp. Who hasn’t heard of Auschwitz? And don’t people know about the Warsaw Ghetto? These are people who should have learned this in history class, for the minimal age of respondents was 18.

The highest scoring states were Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Massachusetts, and the lowest scorers were Florida, Mississippi and Arkansas. Make of that what you will.

So be it. Here’s the Pew survey.

Pew asked their sample of almost 11,000 people four questions. They’re given in this table along with the proportion of adults and teens who answered each question correctly (and you better know the answers!). Older people did better, as you might expect.

Again we see that most people, but not an overwhelming majority, know that the Holocaust happened between 1930 and 1950, and what a ghetto was. Less than half, however, knew that the number of Jews killed was 6 million as opposed to the three alternative answers of less than a million, three million or more than 12 million. 43% knew that Hitler became chancellor through an election (it was in 1932, and forced Hindenburg to appoint Hitler Chancellor).

66% of Americans knew that the Holocaust refers to the killing of Jews rather than general killings, which is a decent figure. Of the four questions above, 24% of Americans got 3 of them right and 24% got all four right, while 18% got none right and the other 34% one or two right. There was no appreciable difference between Democrats and Republicans in their degree of knowledge about the Holocaust.

I’ll add one more table showing that there’s a big effect on level of education on knowledge about the Holocaust, as you might expect. But I didn’t expect such a big difference between people with “some college” and those who were college graduates:

My take: Yes, I found the level of ignorance fairly surprising, though of course remember that this is the nation that elected Trump as President. I wasn’t so much distressed by ignorance about ghettos and camp names as by the 23% of Americans who thought the Holocaust was a myth or exaggerated, or didn’t know for sure. That’s nearly one out of four people, and I think bespeaks a degree of anti-Semitism more pervasive in America than most people realize.

But if you want to see real ignorance of history, ask Americans about the genocide of the Armenians, which likely involved well more than a million deaths, or the killings during the partition of India (200,000 to 2,000,000; estimates vary widely). The horrors of history need to be studied by everyone, for they tell us what the “average” person are capable of when worked up by religious or political fervor.

h/t: Matthew

68 Comments

  1. Roo
    Posted September 16, 2020 at 12:53 pm | Permalink

    Well, in a strange way, for the US, this actually represents relatively widespread knowledge. The percentage of Americans who can name all three branches of government is usually in the low 30s, for example, meaning 65%+ can’t. About 40% couldn’t name the Vice President. I sometimes wonder if there is literally any topic where you would have about 95% common knowledge across the country.

    • Filippo
      Posted September 16, 2020 at 4:55 pm | Permalink

      “I sometimes wonder if there is literally any topic where you would have about 95% common knowledge across the country”.

      I can’t document it at the moment but, IIRC, some poll in the last several years suggested that approx. 96% of Amuricuns knew who Lady Gaga was.

    • eric
      Posted September 16, 2020 at 6:24 pm | Permalink

      I sometimes wonder if there is literally any topic where you would have about 95% common knowledge across the country

      What is the symbol used for “hashtag”?

      • Posted September 17, 2020 at 5:00 am | Permalink

        You won’t get 95% for that unless you restrict the demographic to young people.

  2. George
    Posted September 16, 2020 at 1:06 pm | Permalink

    I am not sure what level of knowledge of the Holocaust is sufficient. It bothers me that the Holocaust is usually seen as equivalent to the death camps. The Wannsee Conference was held in January 1942. The “Final solution to the Jewish question” was decided at the conference. Getting the death camps really going did not occur until the summer.

    The Germans (I intentionally do not limit this to Nazis) had been busy exterminating Jews since they crossed the Polish border on Sep 1, 1939. They had been persecuting (and worse) German Jews from the moment they took control of Germany in 1933 (earlier if they could).

    I have been to Auschwitz. Not sure if I could handle another visit. I have many questions about the Holocaust. I have not been able to look for the answers. People should know more about the Holocaust specifically and genocide in general. Something our species has been good at.

    • Trevor H
      Posted September 16, 2020 at 1:14 pm | Permalink

      For me, the minimum people need to know are the warning signs to stop it happening again

      It seems this is sadly lacking

  3. eric
    Posted September 16, 2020 at 1:16 pm | Permalink

    It’s been a lot of years, but I vaguely recall my HS coverage of it went something like: 8 million, which includes mostly Jews but also Roma, homosexuals, people with disabilities, and criminals. I don’t remember being specifically taught about the JWs, and I think Russian civilians were taught to me as being more traditional civilian casualties of war.

    My kid’s been to the holocaust museum at 8yo. Pretty young, I’ll admit we were on the fence about whether we were doing it too young or not. He did not get to ‘look over the wall’ at the explicit videos. We’ll probably go again in his teens; then he’ll be allowed to look.

  4. Ken Kukec
    Posted September 16, 2020 at 1:34 pm | Permalink

    Chrissake, this one’s a shanda by the goyim, boss.

  5. ThyroidPlanet
    Posted September 16, 2020 at 1:38 pm | Permalink

    The first reason I knew 6 million people were murdered was a monologue I heard in my “formative” years by Jello Biafra – the singer of The Dead Kennedys – called “Names for Bands”. It’s 99% about hilarious names for bands and their albums. The last name for a band is delivered in the last line:

    “Then, hit ‘em where it counts with the name of the band – ‘Lest We Forget’ by Six Million Jews”.

    Adults sought to censor Jello Biafra and his band.

    • darrelle
      Posted September 16, 2020 at 2:14 pm | Permalink

      dead kennedys – nazi punks fuck off (in studio)

      A favorite clip of mine. A look into the Dead Kennedys working in the studio, a funny sign, a sentiment I can get behind, and I even like the song.

      • Outlier
        Posted September 17, 2020 at 7:50 am | Permalink

        Awesome clip! I also really dig Napalm Death’s cover of the song, even though this video is just a mashup of various clips.

    • ThyroidPlanet
      Posted September 16, 2020 at 6:15 pm | Permalink

      I found it : https://youtu.be/nabFMi6PGQA

      … there’s another zinger I forgot about- so not so much of a spoiler…

  6. Joe Kosiner
    Posted September 16, 2020 at 1:39 pm | Permalink

    The result of these surveys is not surprising. Americans seem to know little of history (about most things) and are easily manipulated into thinking that the Holocaust didn’t happen, or that the Jews deserved what they got. I also believe that the level of antisemitism in the US is far greater than realized by most people. There are far more antisemitic incidents acts being carried out today than against any other religious group. With respect to the Armenian Genocide, I have a book titled “Ambassador Morgenthau’s Story”. It was the first volume to document the horrific genocide of the Armenian people. Morgenthau was US Ambassador to Turkey from 1913-1916. It was published in 1919. A memorial edition was published on the 60th anniversary of the Genocide to honor Morgenthau as a friend and benefactor to the Armenian people. It is a tough read.

  7. Randall Schenck
    Posted September 16, 2020 at 1:42 pm | Permalink

    Not surprised at all about the ignorance on this issue. Americans are probably the most ignorant people on the planet concerning history of all areas. I recall a simple survey asking what countries were among the allies during WWII received very poor scores. When a country is ignorant of their own history what are the chances they know anything of others.

    • m
      Posted September 16, 2020 at 2:14 pm | Permalink

      Especially ignorant of Christian history.

    • jezgrove
      Posted September 16, 2020 at 2:51 pm | Permalink

      There’s the much-quoted “20% Americans can’t find Canada on a world map”, of course: although that’s probably apocryphal. At least, I certainly hope so!

      • eric
        Posted September 16, 2020 at 6:29 pm | Permalink

        My cousin is an economics professor. His ‘story of shame’ is from a freshman economics class, where one of his questions read something like “…once the supply of good X plummeted, assuming the demand remains the same, what would you expect to happen to the price?” Several freshman test-takers asked, “what does ‘plummet’ mean?”

      • Diana MacPherson
        Posted September 18, 2020 at 2:53 pm | Permalink

        Well you’ve probably heard the US politicians during the Bush years saying they wanted to strengthen the Canadian border to “keep the Canadians on their side of the border”. We all laughed and laughed as some governors of cities bordering Canada hid their faces in embarrassment. Remember their was early speculation that the 9/11 attackers came from Canada. Americans can be so xenophobic that they even fear Canada. Maybe it’s all the red in our flag.

        My dad was recently talking to an American who said that they had closed the Canadian border because covid was so bad in Canada. Um no…..think the Ober way around their friend.

        • Diana MacPherson
          Posted September 18, 2020 at 2:53 pm | Permalink

          *other

    • Posted September 16, 2020 at 3:56 pm | Permalink

      It reminds me of the joke, that war is God’s way of teaching Americans geography.

    • Filippo
      Posted September 16, 2020 at 5:47 pm | Permalink

      “Americans are probably the most ignorant people on the planet concerning history of all areas.”

      I’m reminded of Susan Jacoby telling of stepping into a NYC bar mid-day on 9/11 to get some nectar so as to help compose herself, and overhearing two twentyish Wall Street junior partner types speculating on the motivation of the plane hijackers. One said that the attack was prompted by U.S. involvement in Vietnam.

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted September 18, 2020 at 2:48 pm | Permalink

      Most Americans also don’t know that WWII had be raging for years before the US entered the war after Pearl Harbour. I’ve often reminded my American friends that no Canada had been in the war for 2 years before America entered.

  8. Posted September 16, 2020 at 1:48 pm | Permalink

    In context, there are many things we are all ignorant about. Most do not know the size an atom or temperature of the sun or that males have a y chromosome, etc.. Most of these have little consequence to people’s daily lives.

    But holocaust ignorance might actually play a role in developing socially important policies. The same could be argued for nuclear weapons and climate change. Though I would say that climate change is far more likely to kill lots of people than future genocidal maniacs (is that a silver lining??).

  9. Glenda Palmer
    Posted September 16, 2020 at 1:50 pm | Permalink

    sub

  10. Ken Kukec
    Posted September 16, 2020 at 1:51 pm | Permalink

    312,000 Serb civilians in the territories of Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina. Sounds like the work of the Ustaše.

    The Balkans are still riven by these blood feuds.

  11. Ken Kukec
    Posted September 16, 2020 at 2:02 pm | Permalink

    … lowest scorers were Florida, Mississippi and Arkansas.

    Bet the scores were pretty good in Miami Beach and Boca Raton — hell, throughout many parts of South Florida. What happens north of the Palm Beach County line is another country, man.

    • Eli
      Posted September 16, 2020 at 2:18 pm | Permalink

      I wouldn’t be so sure. South Florida has seen a huge influx of immigrants from the Caribbean and South America in the last 20-30 years. I doubt Holocaust education forms a big part of their childhood. And we all know historically how Latin America dealt with the Nazis by giving them refuge.

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted September 16, 2020 at 3:31 pm | Permalink

        Sure, but I’ll still bet the scores in Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach were higher than those in counties elsewhere around the state.

        And quite of few of those who fled Havana in advance of Fidel were Jewbans.

  12. Ken Kukec
    Posted September 16, 2020 at 2:13 pm | Permalink

    <blockquote… if you want to see real ignorance of history, ask Americans about the genocide of the Armenians …

    Or ask the Erdoğan government — though that’s a matter of Turkish denialism rather than ignorance per se.

  13. Eli
    Posted September 16, 2020 at 2:16 pm | Permalink

    While it’s salutary to remember that the Nazis killed a lot more than 6 million civilians, it’s important to acknowledge that the Holocaust of the Jews was unique. The Nazis were obsessed with exterminating the Jews. At the same time as they were defeated on the front, they prioritized the rail network to transport Jews to the death camps. The Nazis wanted to get their hands on every single Jew in the world. They even asked their wartime allies, Japan, to hand over Jewish refugees hiding in the Japanese-occupied Shanghai. This is what makes the Holocaust unique.

    However, nowadays I see the woke people (most of which are young) complain about the allegedly “privileged” position of the Holocaust in national memory. Basically, the wokies believe that white culture was not concerned with oppressed black and brown people but solemnized the one event where “some white people genocided other white people”. So it’s not surprising to see young people downgrade their knowledge of the Holocaust.

  14. jezgrove
    Posted September 16, 2020 at 2:35 pm | Permalink

    I’d hope that the situation is better in the UK but couldn’t out a comparable survey (although my search was admittedly pretty cursory). According to the Holocaust Education Centre:

    “In England, by law children are to be taught about the Holocaust as part of the Key Stage 3 History curriculum; in fact, the Holocaust is the only historical event whose study is compulsory on the National Curriculum. This usually occurs in Year 9 (age 13-14). While academy schools do not have to follow this syllabus, it is assumed that they will deliver Holocaust education as part of a “balanced and broadly based” curriculum. Similarly, although independent schools are not obliged to deliver the National Curriculum, many in fact do.

    Whether the students retain any of the information is another matter, I suppose…

    • jezgrove
      Posted September 16, 2020 at 2:37 pm | Permalink

      Aargh! “…but couldn’t find a comparable survey”.

  15. Jeannie Hess
    Posted September 16, 2020 at 2:41 pm | Permalink

    I am 72. My history classes never covered WW1 of WW2. There was not enough time. Instead, my high school(a top HS in PA) was responding to Russia launching Sputnik. The HS jettisoned the science and math curriculums and got mimeographed booklets from University of Illinois and some other college.

    It was not until sometime in my 20s that I stumbled upon a stack of old Life magazines which is where I first learned about the holocaust. I was dumbfounded both by the horror and by my ignorance.

    • Randall Schenck
      Posted September 16, 2020 at 2:55 pm | Permalink

      I think you are probably right. In Iowa in those days American History was either 10th or 11th grade and that was it. So one year of Am. History in four years of high school.

    • Filippo
      Posted September 16, 2020 at 6:00 pm | Permalink

      I wonder if U.S. history might be better taught by starting with the present and working backwards. (But, of course, that would risk not adequately covering the sacrosanct events precipitating the Revolutionary and Civil War periods.)

      And then there’s state history (every state is the greatest state in the Union), most likely during middle school. I had to memorize in alphabetical order the names of the 95 counties of my state. Just curious, did anyone here have that mind-numbing and de-motivating chore imposed on them?

      • Randall Schenck
        Posted September 16, 2020 at 7:48 pm | Permalink

        I don’t remember that one but just barely recall we had something about world history in grade 6. Very strange. And also during that time we had state history. Can’t really recall any of it all these years later.

  16. Posted September 16, 2020 at 3:21 pm | Permalink

    All the more reason to keep on reminding everyone of the darkest days of humankind.

  17. Mark
    Posted September 16, 2020 at 3:24 pm | Permalink

    Two of those four questions aren’t really about the holocaust.

    But yes, you’re pretty ignorant if you can’t answer all of them.

  18. busterggi
    Posted September 16, 2020 at 3:31 pm | Permalink

    This is a country where pride of ignorance is considered a virtue by much of society. I’d be cynical but that would require raising my standards.

  19. Posted September 16, 2020 at 4:11 pm | Permalink

    The Holocaust seems to be pretty much omnipresent. Maybe I think that because I’m german and it was about every second subject in history class, Hitler’s rise to power and the holocaust, the middle ages, the holocaust, the renaissance, concentration camps and the holocaust etcetera. There is also growing awareness now for the other german genocide, the “Herero and Namaqua genocide” costing up to 100,000 in 1904 during the relatively minor german colonial period. These things are important to know, and there is a responsibility to understand the mechanisms behind it, not just the surface.

    But if you want to see real ignorance of history, ask Americans about the genocide of the Armenians, which likely involved well more than a million deaths, or the killings during the partition of India (200,000 to 2,000,000; estimates vary widely). The horrors of history need to be studied by everyone, for they tell us what the “average” person are capable of when worked up by religious or political fervor.

    I can’t help to notice that the activities of other powers are more or less entirely forgotten, and the reason can’t be the scale or horror of it. Worth mentioning is the situation in the Congo during Leopold II of Belgium’s reign, an episode that is according to historians of Holocaust proportions. What took place under colonial rule, just few years earlier is typically already out of focus.

    The reason we now often hear of the Armenian Genocide, is because Turkey is currently a “Bad Guy”. The Belgiums are required to be seen as the “Good Guys”, in historical terms, so that the Germans in WW1 could be the “Bad Guys”. That was the colonial view, adopted by the other powers who had divided the world among each other already.

    One emphasis of study at uni was propaganda. Ever since, I am alert why some knowledge is deemed especially important and not others. It’s very easy to remember what someone else did, and it very quickly shades into nationalism and jingoism, and then becomes the opposite of what such knowledge ought to prevent.

    • Posted September 16, 2020 at 5:21 pm | Permalink

      This is a very perceptive comment.

    • Filippo
      Posted September 16, 2020 at 6:06 pm | Permalink

      “Worth mentioning is the situation in the Congo during Leopold II of Belgium’s reign . . . .”

      I remember a passing reference to Leopoldville in my 8th grade world (?) history textbook in the brief coverage of Africa. No reference to the Congo being a European colony, and certainly no discussion of the morality of such a state of affairs.

  20. Posted September 16, 2020 at 4:19 pm | Permalink

    I will admit my ignorance about the horrendous death toll following the British partition of the Indian sub-continent. But was not the cause religious strife? How is Britain responsible? Would the Muslims, Sikhs and Hindus have lived together in happy harmony were it not for the Raj? Would it have been better not to partition and leave a single superstate? Who would have ruled this superstate and how would religious strife have been avoided?

    • savage
      Posted September 17, 2020 at 12:05 am | Permalink

      You could as well blame the Soviet Union for not preventing the Yugoslav Wars. Empires provide peace at the expense of self-rule.

  21. Mark R.
    Posted September 16, 2020 at 4:29 pm | Permalink

    In my inbox, the post’s title was cut-off and read “Americans are abysmally ignorant…” The rest of the sentence could refer to just about anything in regards to Americans. Is there a subject that Americans, in general, aren’t ignorant about? Maybe BBQ or football or Disneyland…
    It would be interesting to know how many Americans knew these basic Holocaust facts 50 years ago. I bet it would be upwards of 90%. Time for the major networks to replay World at War again.

    • savage
      Posted September 16, 2020 at 11:59 pm | Permalink

      I doubt the Holocaust was more well-known 50 years ago in the US. Even German and Austrian schools scarcely covered it until the 1970s. There was some interest in individual war criminals like Adolf Eichmann, but it conveniently detracted from the survivors.

  22. Posted September 16, 2020 at 4:47 pm | Permalink

    I do not recall learning about the Holocaust in school. Actually learned about it from my dad at a fairly young age. I grew up in rural Western Canada where many European war refugees had settled. Our neighbors were a German widow (her Wehrmacht husband had been killed on the Eastern front) and her son Gerd, who was older than me. Gerd and I hung out together, I looked on him almost as an older brother, and we often hung out around his house.

    One day the door to his mother’s bedroom was open and I looked in. There were many family pictures from Germany including pictures of her late husband in uniform. On one wall was a huge picture of Adolph Hitler. I asked Gerd about it and he told me Hitler was a “great man.” It sort of shocked me because I knew he was bad and responsible for the War. Anyway, I told my veteran dad about it and he flipped out. He got out the encyclopedia and made me read about the Holocaust. I remember it sickened me. Gerd and I didn’t hang out after that.

  23. Mark
    Posted September 16, 2020 at 4:57 pm | Permalink

    Some things I learned outside of school.

  24. keith
    Posted September 16, 2020 at 5:23 pm | Permalink

    Not to mention the mass deaths that the Soviets caused.

    • Filippo
      Posted September 16, 2020 at 6:11 pm | Permalink

      “Not to mention the mass deaths that the Soviets caused.”

      In the 20-30’s, I gather. Do I correctly recall that the number of Soviet civilians killed in WW II was (at least) 20,000,000? (I gather that there’s a not inconsiderable number post-WW II.) Will shortly Google the number of U.S. civilians killed in WW II.

      • Diana MacPherson
        Posted September 18, 2020 at 3:05 pm | Permalink

        The allies owe their lives to the Soviets. It would not have been possible to win WW2 without the soviets. Think of the siege of Leningrad. While the rest of the allies were taking a shit kicking on the front, the Russians were in siege and starving to death – ordinary Russians! And boy did they suffer if the Nazis got to them (see this post for the numbers). So think of the Russians starving and helping the allies win the war only to be massacred by Stalin (who enjoyed massacring his own people during the war too I’ve read).

  25. Blue
    Posted September 16, 2020 at 5:48 pm | Permalink

    Yeah, this degree of ignorance is unconscionable.

    As S A M E level of ignorance with the
    Burning Times’ O U T R A G E of
    ” Prosecutions for the crime of witchcraft
    reached a highpoint from y1580 to y1630,
    during the Counter – Reformation and
    the European wars of religion, when an estimated
    50,000 people [ Blue: other sources state
    in to the millions ] were burned at the stake,
    of which roughly 80% were women, and
    most often over the age of 40. ”

    VERY many of these women ? those Times’
    H E A L E R S. Yeah. These women made
    others, ill, feel and BE better. That ?
    That THREATENED men. That women could heal ?
    Others then ? Others then LIKED them.

    Wull, THAT ‘ld N E V E R do, would it now ?
    [ per the history of how almost all
    ” doctors ” from then on and for multiple
    centuries came to be ONLY men and of
    the history of the American Medical Association. ]
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Witch_trials_in_the_early_modern_period

    Every morning every day t h r o u g h o u t
    their ENTIRE lives these women waked up … …
    fearing. Fearing that that day someone else
    ‘ld ” name ” them … … a witch.
    What a way to have to live, … … huh ?

    Blue

    • Posted September 17, 2020 at 1:46 am | Permalink

      Most of the estimates I’ve read/heard seem to settle on the 100K mark of victims, mainly in Northern Europe.

      Crazy witch trials are another gift of the faaaith community.
      The (I think old (?) testament) reads something like: “That shall not permit a witch to live.”
      Even today in Islam “witchcraft” is a capital crime in some countries.

      Religion – dragging us backwards one idiot at a time.

      D.A., J.D., NYC

  26. Hempenstein
    Posted September 16, 2020 at 9:13 pm | Permalink

    My Polish, non-Jewish PhD advisor’s father – IIRC a military officer – disappeared at the hands of the Nazis. Whether he’s among the 1.8M in Table 1, who knows? But that gave me a heightened awareness of that category of Holocaust victims.

    Also noted in Table 1, the 50-100K Polish elites. There is a Polish MD, Grzegorz aka 240252, who posts great music on YouTube from the ’20s/30s, both American and Polish, together with wonderful photomontages. I started into his videos for the American music, but started looking at some of the Polish ones, too. When I look at these I can only wonder if any of the people in them survived the War. Here’s a sampler:

    1930. Vs. pix of the rubble / aftermath of WWII, I always wonder how pix like these managed to survive. And also, how does he find them?

    1934, and @ 2:00, I’m particularly intrigued by the name Madame Dr. Elektorowicz

    This one’s laden with mansions and manor houses, and the people who lived in them.

    And here’s the page that lists all of his videos. Good stuff!

  27. StephenB
    Posted September 16, 2020 at 10:11 pm | Permalink

    Indeed, to our everlasting shame, this is the nation that elected Trump as President. Maureen Dowd of the NY Times wrote, “The occupational hazard of democracy is know-nothing voters.” (9/18/2011) The USA is now a prime example of what happens to a democracy that falls victim to this hazard.

  28. Posted September 17, 2020 at 3:45 am | Permalink

    What do they ever read!!? What do they learn in school??!

  29. Posted September 17, 2020 at 5:19 am | Permalink

    But if you want to see real ignorance of history, ask Americans about the genocide of the Armenians, which likely involved well more than a million deaths, or the killings during the partition of India (200,000 to 2,000,000; estimates vary widely). The horrors of history need to be studied by everyone, for they tell us what the “average” person are capable of when worked up by religious or political fervor.

    I only found out about the Armenian genocide a few years ago when listening to Dan Carlin’s podcast about the First World War. I found out about the deaths during partition a few years before that.

    I think that the majority of my fellow Britishers have never heard of either of them despite the latter happening during the dismantling of what was our empire. I’d hope we would do better on the holocaust than Americans though.

    • Posted September 17, 2020 at 5:17 pm | Permalink

      ALWAYS – but ALWAYS listen to Dan Carlin’s podcast when you can. He is top notch.

      After WEIT (of course) its the best game in town.
      They’re long but you will learn in a few hours what you/we SHOULD have been taught in school.
      His Japanese one and his Cuban Missile Crisis one are incredibly gripping.
      He passes the Dawkins test of
      “Listen/read this text with something *you* actually know a lot about – if it is accurate you can probably trust the rest of what they say.”

      Everybody else is reading facebook, Q., Fox or other b.s. (sigh)
      Be educated, it is important and personally liberating.
      best regards,

      D.A., NYC

    • Posted September 17, 2020 at 10:04 pm | Permalink

      The trouble with the Armenian genocide is the Turks vehemently deny it and have done so since day one. They even made it a stipulation to microsoft that back when they had their encarta encyclopedia and wanted to ship it to turkey, they had to remove any mention of the genocide before Turkey would accept shipments.
      I was in a history club in college and we were doing an info board about genocides and included the Armenian one. Half a dozen Turkish students (we had a lot of international students) found out while we were setting up the displays and got in a “heated discussion” with the pres and vice pres of the club and others that were helping us out. We never removed it, but some comments on one of the “leave your thoughts” panels condemned the decision.

  30. Veroxitatis
    Posted September 17, 2020 at 7:47 am | Permalink

    I would expect also that a similar number of Americans are equally ignorant of their own history. Many millions of indigenous inhabitants died as a result of colonisation, some ( perhaps the largest portion through the spead of infectious diseases against which they had no natural defences ), others directly through ‘ Indian Wars ‘ and enforced migration or indirectly by the annihilation of their means of living ( eg. the destruction of the Plains bison and buffalo herds. )

  31. KD
    Posted September 17, 2020 at 12:11 pm | Permalink

    I think the question about Hitler becoming Chancellor is misleading. The Nazi’s never won a majority in a national election. He got the Chancellorship through a Parliamentary dirty backroom deal with the Conservatives, and then once he got it, he instituted a coup (while blaming the Reichstag fires on the Jews) and then purged everyone who wasn’t loyal. The whole seizure of power was backed by paramilitary forces who make the Antifa look like the Little Rascals by comparison. When he felt that his power was solid, he then purged his own paramilitary forces, so within a year you were either personally loyal to Hitler, or completely silent and apolitical or you had a hole in your back.

    A “democratic fig leaf” is closer to what happened than a “democratic process.”

    • Posted September 17, 2020 at 10:08 pm | Permalink

      Yeah, they felt like because he did have so many supporters, him in that position would at least be a check on their power and they’d settle down. They didn’t anticipate Hindenburg dying in office, though, and von Papen was too naive to think he could control Hitler. The night of the long knives sobered him up quick, but it was too late.

  32. Posted September 17, 2020 at 12:44 pm | Permalink

    I would be greatly surprised if U.S. children during and shortly after the WWII years were not taught about the Eastern and Western aspects of the war. I was born in the early 1940s. My folks both worked in shipyards. I remember the impacts on U.S. families before, during and immediately after the war. But I was too young to read, listen to the news (no TV yet and too poor to go to movies.) But, the history of the war was taught and I learned about the Holocaust in school in the 50s. In addition, I read. So, I make the faulty assumption that even if the history wasn’t taught in school, there are other sources for individuals to learn about it.

    By the time my kids went to school in the
    70s and 80s, WWII history wasn’t taught, so
    the Holocaust wasn’t taught. I wouldn’t be surprised if that weren’t the case for many children in school during that time, and after.

    It does not surprise me that many Americans are unaware of the Holocaust and death toll from WWII. I also doubt that enough is known about the Pacific death toll other than that associated with the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. I doubt that the Armenian death toll is/was known or those in Africa and the Middle East post colonialism or that in Ukraine under Stalin or those in the Far
    East post WWII.

    Other than through the fictitious view of cowboys and Indians in books and movies, I doubt that the death toll of indigenous peoples after the arrival of the Europeans in the Americas is known. How many know that there were still bounties for killing Indians in California in the early 1900s? How many know the cost to indigenous peoples as the result of wars and taking of lands for the Westward Expansion? How many are aware of the greater impact on Native Americans of the current Covid 19 pandemic and lesser access to treatment?

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted September 18, 2020 at 3:14 pm | Permalink

      I, a Canadian kid educated in the 70s, 80s, and 90s learned about WWII in elementary school, high school, and university. On Remembrance Day as young kids at school we watched horrible films about the Holocaust that were far too graphic for young kids. So we were well aware and at least know that lots of Jews were exterminated systemically by an evil government if nothing else. There were also so many movies to watch about Auschwitz, Treblinka and Sobibor. How can people not know? I do admit that as a kid I thought concentration camps were places where they made you think really hard until it was death by math. I knew the 6 million anyway because neo Nazis are always denying the number and turning it into a Streisand moment.

  33. Posted September 18, 2020 at 5:46 am | Permalink

    Here in Germany it’s the same. 10% don’t know that Auschwitz was a concentration camp . The younger, the less they know. At least attitudes changed in the last years. While 20 years ago a lot of people wanted to stop talking about the Holocaust, this number decreases year by year since.
    If you want to the 3rd generation after war German perspective: https://hikeminded.blog/2017/08/29/sunny-day-in-auschwitz/


One Trackback/Pingback

  1. […] course, after reading some other things this evening that indicated how few Americans know about or believe the truth of the Holocaust, well, those folks would be going “what can’t happen […]

Post a Comment to Aneris

Required fields are marked *
*
*

%d bloggers like this: