One in Five Young Germans Do Not Know Auschwitz Was A Death Camp

We have previously discussed how history is being forgotten in the United States, England, and other countries. We can now add Germany to the list. While one would hope that there are certain historical facts that are indelible, one in five young Germans has no idea that Auschwitz was a Nazi death camp.

The good news is that 90 percent of Germans recognized the name but the shocker came with the polling of the 21 percent of 18-29 year olds.

Moreover, nearly a third of the 1,002 people questioned did not know that Auschwitz was in today’s Poland.

The anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz by Soviet troops is on January 27, 1945.

Source: Hurriyet

31 thoughts on “One in Five Young Germans Do Not Know Auschwitz Was A Death Camp”

  1. Pete is right. Especially if you asked them to list the allies on each side and what continents they fought on. One in Five would know D Day was in Normandy …. but you’d start losing them after that.

  2. TD,

    When I was in high school, Andersonville was barely addressed and in a cursory fashion. I didn’t learn the full scale of it until college.

  3. I guess the closest thing America has to Auschwitz would be Andersonville. That question got asked to a group at my marina this afternoon and all the old farts knew that it was a Civil War prison camp where they let the inmates starve and they all knew it was somewhere in the South. I wonder what kids know about this.

  4. Stunning and sobering at the same time. But we have people in the State of Tennessee doing something actively to rewrite history as Mike, rafflaw et al have pointed out. Texas is trying (or is it over) to change textbooks to purge Jefferson and include Calvinism…And we have a GOP contender Santorum on a national level…..I am embarrassed to show my US passport these days sometimes.

    1. Raff,

      So good on the strings, but can’t carry a tune for the life of him.

  5. Surprised…..Not in the least….I bet the numbers in the US would be higher….

  6. TalkingDog: “Americans need more than some photos of a smiling U.S. Army female guard next to a detainee at Abu Grave or however one spells that now forgotten prison somewhere in Iraq.”

    Changing/eradicating history is labor intensive, you have to change history books and photoshop pictures. Not developing a clear picture of current events by looking forward works just as well and saves a lot of time and effort.

  7. As we see now in Tennessee where an attempt is being made to expurgate the issue of slavery from the schools, the erasure of history in the service of denial is a technique used throughout humanity’s history. Santayana spoke truth, as Gene mentioned, but many humans find true history hard to take and prefer mythology and/or convenient amnesia

  8. I too have been to Dachau and I did not smell the stench of death, and I know personally what that smells like. It is too bad that you did not read or remember the presentations on the walls which stated that the townspeople helped liberate that camp and were in active opposition to it since it was a stronghold of the SPD. Also it was NOT a death camp either such as Birkenau. It was primarily a holding camp where over 30,000 people were murdered by one means or another. Most of those dead were Soviet POWs who were murdered.

    The thing that stunned me most about Dachau was the huge map of Europe with dots to designate all the camps such as Dachau and the extermination camps. The whole map was covered with those dots of my guess is nearly a thousand! I then thougjt about it,and it was obvious that such a massive system had to have been built to accomodate the 12 millions who were rounded up and murdered.

    I also visited Auschwitz and watched a film in German, and my fellow viewers were from East Germany as members of the FDJ which was the communist youth group. So I know that at least the East German youth learned about their history in WWII.

  9. There are people around here who walk by the dog pound every day. They think its a place to weigh dogs and know nothing about the killing. But todays real message from Naples is: God spelled backwards is Dog. Tell that one to Santo Rum or however he spells his name. One of the best books on the Nuremburg war trials is by Whitney Harris, who was one of the prosecutors for the American Army and who died in 2007 or thereabouts in Saint Louis, Missouri where he was a good influence on young lawyers who needed advice on shutting down an inhumane mental hospital. “Tyranny On Trial.” Whitney worked with Justice Jackson who was on leave from the Supreme Court of the U.S. to show the world how exemplarary America is.
    We are the Exceptional nation. We just dont know nothin about birthin babies or seeing through the likes of Cheney, Rumsfeld and Bushieboy when they tell us we dont need no Geneva Convention. Most Americans think that the Geneva Convention holds motorcycle races outside Geneva, Illinois.

  10. I lived in Augsburg, Germany from 1983-1986.

    I took a trip to Dachau (then a suburb of Munich). It was a cool, moist day, and could still smell the stench of death about the place. I was left emotionally stunned for the next several days, thinking about how the inmates must have felt about their inevitable doom.

    It was amazing to find out how many in that town feigned ignorance at what happened there.

    Personally, I don’t think it’s ignorance, but denial passed on to the next generations.

  11. “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” – George Santayana

  12. “But because of his telling, many who did not believe have come to believe, and some who did not care have come to care. He tells the story, out of infinite pain, partly to honor the dead, but also to warn the living – to warn the living that it could happen again and that it must never happen again. Better than one heart be broken a thousand times in the retelling, he has decided, if it means that a thousand other hearts need not be broken at all. (vi)”

    ― Elie Wiesel, Night

    I wonder how many young Americans are unaware that Auschwitz was a death camp…, as TalkingDog suggested…

  13. The German Propaganda Minister, Joe Goebbels, stated clearly that he learned his best propaganda techniques from the American, Eddie Bernays.

    Eddie was the nephew of Sigmund Freud. He studied his uncle’s work concerning the subconscious mind, and applied it in American Propaganda.

    The great success of Bernays’ work, still going stronger than ever, is substantial verification of much of Freud’s work (which is “disfavored” now).

  14. Shocking: 1. Americans know nothing about the 1933 parallels with the 9/11 attacks and the subsequent Patriot Act, ten years of wars, Gitmo, Iraq prison torture. Beginning in 1933 it was: The Reichstag Fire, The Reichstag Decrees by President von Hindenburg, WWII, the Holocaust, the Nuremburg Trials wherein the Allies put the Germans on trial for all but the fire.
    2. Poll American voters age 18-28 about their knowledge of Auschwitz.
    3. Poll Americans of all ages about their knowledge of human rights treaties signed by the United States.

    It would be fitting to put Cheney, Rumsfeld and their ilk on trial in Nuremberg for these crimes against prisoners, drone victims, dismantling of civil and criminal laws and lying to the American people and the world.

    Google: The Judges Trial and the name of the lead defendant: Alstoeffer for some history. The Spencer Tracy movie about Judgment At Nuremberg does give some focus on the story but is not tough enough on the bad guys.
    What the Allies did in some of the towns adjacent to the concentration camps was to parade the towns people through the camps and force them to look at the corpses, starved humans, ovens, and ash piles. Americans need more than some photos of a smiling U.S. Army female guard next to a detainee at Abu Grave or however one spells that now forgotten prison somewhere in Iraq.

  15. That problem is just the tip of the iceberg. All too many American kids cannot find the USA on a map of the world. When talking to some kids, they do not understand the difference between a state and a big city. I was asked recently what city Illinois was in–that high school senior thought Illinois was in St. Louis.

    Last year, I was interviewing an African American man in his twenties. One of the questions asked to determine his intellectual functioning was, “Who was Martin Luther King, Jr.?” His reply was that MLK was a President of the US.

    That interview took place the day after MLK Day.

  16. How quickly they are allowed to forget. That is why the law proposed in Tennessee to remove any mention of slavery from textbooks is appalling. The Tea Party backed bill would try to cleanse history.

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