Nearly 33 percent of students in elementary and high schools in the United States and Canada who participated in a new survey said they weren’t sure if the Holocaust happened, or if it did, they thought it was “exaggerated or fabricated.”
Almost 3,600 North American students from grades six through 12 participated in the study commissioned by the Ontario-based organization Liberation75, though 78.6 percent of the respondents were Canadian. The findings of the survey were released on Wednesday, one day before International Holocaust Remembrance Day
The survey also showed that 54 percent of students knew how many Jews were killed in the Holocaust and 92 percent of the students wanted to know more about the Holocaust. Meanwhile, 40 percent of students surveyed pointed out that social media was where they learned about the Holocaust.
“I think that the study is so important in an age of misinformation and disinformation,” said Alexis Lerner from Western University, who led the study. “When students aren’t getting Holocaust information and genocide information in the schools, they’re not getting fact-based information. And so they’re turning to these alternative sources of information.”
No Canadian province or territory requires Holocaust education as part of their secondary-school curricula. In the United States, 22 states mandate Holocaust education in secondary schools, according to Liberation75.
Marilyn Sinclair, the founder of the organization, which is committed to Holocaust education, said provincial and territorial governments across Canada should require teachers to educate students about Holocaust and anti-Semitism “to ensure our youth know about the dangers of what happens when hate goes unchecked and we don’t stand up for each other.”
The survey also questioned students about their knowledge of Jews and anti-Semitism.