Senator Todd Kaminsky: Results of Holocaust Survey "Shocking"

Susan Arbetter for NY State of Politics

September 21, 2020

Originally published in NY State of Politics on September 21, 2020.

More Jewish people live in New York State than anywhere else in the world with the exception of Israel. But a new survey from the Claims Conference indicates that 19 percent of millennials and Generation-Z'ers in the state believe that Jews caused the Holocaust.

The Encyclopedia Britannica defines the Holocaust as “the systematic state-sponsored killing of six million Jewish men, women, and children and millions of others by Nazi Germany and its collaborators during World War II.”

In 1939, the core Jewish population reached an historical peak of 17 million. By 1945, the population had dwindled to 11 million, due to the Holocaust.

To address the knowledge deficit, Senator Todd Kaminsky (D – Rockville Centre) is urging passage of a bill (S6648) he sponsors, which would require instruction regarding symbols of hate, including the swastika and the noose, for New York students in grades 6 through 12.

“Statistics like this are shocking, and emphasize a clear gap in education when we could be using that exact tool to tackle the larger problem of rising hate crimes in New York,” Kaminsky said.

According to its annual audit, the Anti-Defamation League reported more than 2,100 anti-Semitic incidents in the United States in 2019. That’s a 12 percent increase, and the most incidents in any year since the group began tracking.

The Claims Conference states that “Holocaust Knowledge Scores” were calculated by using the percentage of millennials and Gen-Z adults who met all three of the following criteria, they have “definitively heard about the Holocaust,” and, can name at least one concentration camp, death camp, or ghetto, and, know that 6 million Jews were killed in the Holocaust.

New York was among the states with the lowest “Holocaust Knowledge Scores,” according to the Conference, alongside Louisiana, Mississippi, and Arkansas.

The survey, which claims to be the first-ever 50-state survey on Holocaust knowledge among younger Americans, also revealed that 1 in 10 respondents say they had never heard the word “holocaust” before.