Why The March of the Living Program Is More Urgently Needed Than Ever Before

Posted on 10/02/2020 @ 08:00 AM

Tags: March of the Living

This article is an abbreviated version of one published in Israel Hayom on 9-18-2020.
 
A new survey has found that critical gaps exist in what younger generations know about the Holocaust, calling into question the effectiveness of current Holocaust education and how it can be used to grow awareness of modern anti-Semitism and hatred…
 
The Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany, also known as Claims Conference, commissioned the firm Schoen Cooperman Research to conduct the first-ever nationwide survey on Holocaust knowledge and awareness among millennials and Generation Z in each of the 50 states. Schoen Cooperman conducted 1,000 interviews nationwide with adults ages 18 to 39 between Feb. 26 and March 28, 2020.
 
According to the survey, there is a clear lack of knowledge, and many distortions, surrounding the Holocaust for millennials and Gen Z.
 
Nationally, 63% of respondents didn't know that 6 million Jews were killed during the years of World War II and the Holocaust, and 36% believed that 2 million Jews or fewer were killed. Furthermore, of the more than 40,000 concentration camps and ghettos built in Europe during the Holocaust, 48% of respondents could not name a single one. While 44% were familiar with the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp in Poland and 6% knew the name Dachau, familiarity with Bergen-Belsen (3%), Buchenwald (1%) and Treblinka (1%) was significantly lacking.
 
The survey also addressed the topic of Holocaust denial. When asked whether the Holocaust did, in fact, take place, 10% said it did not happen or were not sure. Meanwhile, 23% of respondents either believed that the Holocaust did not happen or that it took place but that the number of Jews who died in it "has been greatly exaggerated," or they were unsure.
 
A little more than one in 10 (12%) of US millennials and Gen Z agreed that they had never heard of or don't think they've heard of the word "Holocaust" before, and 15% of respondents thought it was acceptable for someone to have neo-Nazi views.
 
Also unsettling is that 59% agreed that "something like the Holocaust could happen again today."
 
Regarding social-media's role in spreading Holocaust misinformation, 49% said they have observed Holocaust denial or distortion on social media or elsewhere online, and 56% said they saw "Nazi symbols," including flags with swastikas or pictures glorifying Adolf Hitler and Nazi soldiers, in their community and/or on social-media platforms within the past five years.
 
"The dual crisis of critical knowledge gaps, plus broad exposure to distortion and denial on the social-media apps that young Americans frequent, was the most alarming finding of the survey," Arielle Confino, senior vice president at Schoen Cooperman, told JNS. "Social-media platforms and apps like Facebook and TikTok are undoubtedly serving as platforms for this and are clearly having an impact..."
 
"In my opinion, the current approach to Holocaust education in the United States … isn't sufficient. We need to optimize Holocaust curriculum and teacher training with an emphasis on providing the necessary historical and geopolitical facts and context and deploy it systematically on a national level."

The Leo Martin March of the Living is solely dedicated to educating our teens about the horrors of the Holocaust and appreciating the gift of a State of Israel in order to empower them to be upstanders and able to educate their peers.
 
Through the March, over 2000 teens and adults from Miami have received intensive education and visited the sites to become personal witnesses from its inception in 1988 until today.
 
But the survival of The March is NOT a certainty! Costs are rising prohibitively and we want to be able to offer scholarships to all teens who wish to participate.
 
Please support CAJE’s “Comedy for a Cause” Celebration on Thursday, October 29th from 7:30-9pm where we will raise money for the March of the Living program and honor Morrie Siegel, Moj K. Danial, Laura Koffsky and Tara Solomiany for their support of this transformational experience. CLICK HERE TO DONATE OR REGISTER

A Message from Honoree Morrie Siegel