20 Percent of non-Christians in France Never Heard of the Holocaust, Survey Finds

Ignorance about the Holocaust and revisionism appeared strongest among far-right and far-left voters, and people who said they follow a faith that is not Christianity

File photo: French Holocaust survivors gather at the site of former Drancy detention camp, north of Paris, August 20, 2001.
Michel Euler/AP

More than 20 percent of non-Christians in France never heard of the Holocaust, while another 15 percent said it’s either an exaggeration or a lie.

Those are among the results of a survey of 1,014 Christian and non-Christian adults, as well as those who said they were without religion, conducted this month for the American Jewish Committee and two other groups by the Ifop research group.

Ignorance about the Holocaust and revisionism appeared strongest among far-right and far-left voters, and people who said they follow a faith that is not Christianity. Islam is France’s second-largest religion, with 8.8 percent of the population according to a 2017 Pew study. Judaism is third with 0.8 percent.

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Among non-Christians, 21 percent said they had never heard of the Holocaust, compared to only 10 percent of all respondents. Overall, 21 percent of all respondents didn’t know when the Holocaust happened. Among non-Christians, the figure was 34 percent.

Among respondents who said they are religious but not Christians, 11 percent said the figure of 6 million Holocaust victims was  “exaggerated” and a further 4 percent said the Holocaust was “invented.”

Just over a quarter of non-Christian respondents said the Holocaust was merely “another tragedy among many others in a war with many victims.” Overall, only 3 percent of all respondents agreed with the statement.

Asked whether they think French Jews feel insecure in their country, 53 percent of all respondents and 40 percent of non-Christians said no.

Among supporters of the far-right politician Marine Le Pen, 15 percent said they had never heard of the Holocaust. That figure was 10 percent among supporters of Jean-Luc Melenchon, a far-left politician. Only 4-5 percent of supporters of more centrist politicians indicated total ignorance with regards to the Holocaust.