One in four Australians has little or no knowledge of the Holocaust, a number that rises to nearly a third among millennials, according to a new poll released Thursday.
Published on International Holocaust Remembrance Day, the survey, carried out by researchers at Deakin University, Victoria, polled 3,522 Australian adults last September.
Respondents “registered low levels of Holocaust denial and overt antisemitism,” researchers wrote, with 70 percent aware that the term Holocaust refers to the genocide of the Jews and 54 percent able to identify the death toll at around 6 million.
However, in addition to 30 percent of millennials having little or no knowledge of the Holocaust, only 25 percent of Australians said they had visited a Holocaust museum in Australia or overseas. Furthermore, 81 percent had never heard an in-person talk or lecture from a Holocaust survivor.
On average, respondents “with comparatively higher level of Holocaust awareness had warmer feelings towards minority or disadvantaged groups” such as Jews and other religious minorities, including Hindus, Muslims and Buddhists, as well as asylum seekers and members of Indigenous peoples, the survey found.
The poll was commissioned by Australia’s Gandel Foundation, which aims to fight inequality and promote cultural dialogue.
It also found that 80 percent of Australians were unaware of their country’s connection to the genocide, including the government’s opposition to accepting Jewish refugees.
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The researchers advocated for more trips to museums and talks with survivors, as well as better teacher training on the Holocaust.
“Not many people know about Australia’s hard-line attitude towards Jewish refugees before the Second World War,” Associate Prof. Steven Cooke, one of the researchers, said in a statement. “How does knowing that history help us to, for instance, reflect on our attitudes towards asylum seekers today?”
The latest survey appeared to confirm elements of a previous poll, conducted last January by Australia’s Social Research Centre on behalf of the online news publication Plus61J.
That poll, titled “CROSSROADS21: Australian Attitudes to Israel and Jewish People,” also quizzed Australians about their awareness of the Holocaust. Thirty percent of respondents said they knew “little” or “virtually nothing” about the Shoah.
However, nearly two-thirds of respondents (62 percent) in the “CROSSROADS21” survey said they supported banning the swastika in their country in order to protect Jewish people from antisemitism.
A similar survey on Holocaust awareness in Britain last November found that 52 percent of the 2,000 respondents did not seem to know how many Jews died in the Holocaust, while 22 percent couldn’t name a single concentration camp.
In a 2020 Claims Conference survey in the United States, meanwhile, 31 percent of respondents said they believed that substantially fewer than 6 million Jews were killed during the Holocaust. In that poll, some 45 percent of Americans couldn’t name a concentration camp.