By Miriam Bell…

Nearly a third of New Zealanders know little or nothing about the Holocaust while only 43% know that six million Jews were killed in the Holocaust, according to the results of a new poll.

Released Wednesday, the poll turned up some disturbing results about New Zealanders’ Holocaust awareness – or lack of.

One of the key findings was that only 43% of New Zealanders say they know a reasonable amount or a lot about the Holocaust, while 29% know little or nothing about the Holocaust.

Another is that 4% of New Zealanders think the Holocaust is a myth or has been exaggerated and a further 30% of New Zealanders are unsure if the Holocaust is a myth or has been exaggerated.

Also, only 43% of New Zealanders knew that the number of European Jews killed in the Holocaust was around six million. But 20% thought less than six million Jews were killed and 37% were unsure of the number.

The level of awareness was significantly lower among younger people.

Only 18% of those aged under 30 say they know a reasonable amount or a lot about the Holocaust compared to 57% of those aged over 60. Further, only 32% of those aged under 30 know the number of Jews killed in the Holocaust.

NZ Jewish Council spokesperson Juliet Moses says the poll results reveal a disconcerting level of ignorance and uncertainty about the Holocaust in New Zealand.

The lack of widespread education about the Holocaust in New Zealand, the proliferation of Holocaust revisionism and antisemitic conspiracy theories on the internet, and the dwindling number of survivors and those who can bear witness to this blight on history and humanity mean that, perhaps, it is not surprising, she says.

“Given the frightening increase in antisemitism and racism around the world and, as we recall the horrific events of 15 March and other incidents of white supremacist terrorism in recent times, it seems that the need for more Holocaust education in schools is greater than ever.”

For this reason, they urge those with the power to facilitate more Holocaust education to consider doing so, Moses adds.

The Holocaust Centre of New Zealand (HCNZ) also released a statement expressing its concerns about the apparent lack of knowledge New Zealanders have about the Holocaust.

HCNZ chief executive Chris Harris says that findings such as that derived from this survey are troublesome.

“If we do not learn about the Holocaust, how do we take the lessons of this tragedy and make changes for today, in a world experiencing a rise in antisemitism, xenophobia, prejudice and discrimination.”

The poll, which surveyed 1,000 New Zealanders, was commissioned by the Auckland Holocaust Memorial Trust and conducted by Curia Market Research.

See the full results of the Holocaust Awareness Poll here

Read Newsroom’s Mark Jennings’ article, Are we Forgetting the Holocaust?, which is based on the poll results here.