Netherlands joins 'disturbing' trend of decline in Holocaust knowledge, new survey finds

A new survey released ahead of Friday's Holocaust Remembrance Day found the number of adults in the Netherlands who believe the world’s worst genocide is a myth or exaggerated is higher than in any of the other nations surveyed, a "disturbing" decline in Holocaust knowledge.

In the Netherlands, 23% of adults under 40 and 12% of all respondents said they believed the Holocaust was a myth or that the number of Jews killed has been greatly exaggerated. The survey also found that 54% of all respondents – and 59% of millennials and Gen Zers – did not know that 6 million Jews were murdered, and 29% of Dutch adults believed the number is 2 million or fewer.

Of the 140,000 Jews who lived in the Netherlands before World War II, 102,000 were killed during the Holocaust, according to the U.S. State Department.

Anne Frank and the Dutch

Although several transit camps in the Netherlands were used to deport more than 70% of the country’s Jewish population to concentration camps, including Anne Frank and her family, who were hiding in Amsterdam, 53% of Dutch respondents "did not cite" the Netherlands as a country where the Holocaust took place, according to the survey.


Though most Dutch respondents – 89% – were familiar with Anne Frank, 32% of millennials and 27% of all adults surveyed did not know she died in a concentration camp.

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Similar survey findings

The survey, released Wednesday and commissioned by the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany. In 2018, a similar survey in the U.S. found almost a third of Americans and 41% of millennials incorrectly believed 2 million or fewer Jews died in the Holocaust.

The alarming trend continued in 2020, when another survey found almost two-thirds of millennials and Gen Zers didn’t know that 6 million Jews were killed.

“Survey after survey, we continue to witness a decline in Holocaust knowledge and awareness. Equally disturbing is the trend towards Holocaust denial and distortion,” Claims Conference President Gideon Taylor said in a statement.

2020 SURVEY: Almost two-thirds of millennials, Gen Z don't know that 6 million Jews were killed in the Holocaust, survey finds

“To address this trend, we must put a greater focus on Holocaust education in our schools globally. If we do not, denial will soon outweigh knowledge, and future generations will have no exposure to the critical lessons of the Holocaust,” Taylor said.

Netherlands' Holocaust history

Nazi Germany occupied the Netherlands from 1940 to 1945. Deportation of Jews from the Netherlands began in 1942, according to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.

For Dutch Jews, Westerbork in eastern Netherlands was a key location during the Holocaust where Jews, including Anne Frank, were sent before being deported to killing centers such as Auschwitz, according to the Holocaust Memorial Museum.

The last train to leave Westerbork for Auschwitz was on Sept. 3, 1944 – the same day as when Anne Frank and her family were deported. More than 100,000 Jews spent time at the Westerbork transit camp, and only 5,000 Jews who passed through Westerbork survived, according to the Holocaust Memorial Museum.

Antisemitism on the rise

The survey's results come as antisemitic incidents and rhetoric have steadily increased over the past several years. According to the Anti-Defamation League, 2021 was an all-time high in the U.S. for documented incidents of assault, harassment and vandalism directed against Jews.

A total of 2,717 incidents were reported to the ADL in 2021, and the group says 2022 will have similar results. The ADL has been tracking antisemitic incidents since 1979 and has since seen a 34% increase of incidents – an average of more than seven incidents a day – year after year.

Contributing: Ryan Miller, USA TODAY; The Associated Press

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Survey: Almost a quarter of Dutch Millennials, Gen Z deny Holocaust