Survey: Majority of French don’t know scope of Holocaust

Although it is a mandatory subject in school, 69 percent of the younger generations do not know six million Jews were murdered during World War II.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

In a survey among the French public published Wednesday, over half of the respondents did not know basic facts about the Holocaust, such as how many Jews were murdered by the Nazis.

The Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany commissioned the poll in November and publicized it as 46 world leaders gathered in Jerusalem for a memorial event Thursday, just a few days before International Holocaust Remembrance Day on January 27.

French President Emmanuel Macron is one of the slated speakers at the World Holocaust Forum commemoration at Yad Vashem, which is titled “Remembering the Holocaust: Fighting Anti-Semitism.”

Over half of the 1,100 people surveyed, 57 percent, did not know how many Jews died during the Holocaust, with 30 percent thinking the number was two million or less – one third of the actual number.

A whopping 81 percent did not recognize the name Auschwitz-Birkenau, the most infamous concentration and death camp in which over a million Jews were murdered.

The ignorance among the younger generation was especially high, despite the fact that the study of the Holocaust is mandatory in French schools.

Fully 69 percent of millennials and Generation Z greatly underestimated the number of Jews murdered, with 44 percent thinking it was less than two million. A quarter of millennials had not even heard of the Holocaust.

Many were unfamiliar with the role their own country played. Forty-five percent of those surveyed did not know that the French Vichy government that the Germans allowed to rule over the southern half of the country during World War II collaborated with the Nazis in hunting down and deporting Jewish citizens and refugees alike.

Only two percent knew about France’s sole internment camp, Drancy, located in the northeastern suburbs of Paris. Between June 1942 and July 1944, 67,400 French, German and Polish Jews were deported from Drancy to the extermination camps, including 6,000 children.

Regarding anti-Semitism today, 69 percent think that it is as bad or worse in their country than it was a decade ago. A fifth of the younger people think that it’s acceptable to express anti-Semitic opinions in French society today, although the number drops to 10 percent among the respondents in general.

Over half, 52 percent, believe that the Holocaust could happen again in Europe. Thirty-six percent believe it could even happen in the United States.