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Study shows gap in Canadian knowledge of Holocaust history



On November 7 last year, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made headlines when he apologized almost 80 years later for the refusal of his country, the Jewish refugees of St. Louis many of whom later became Nazis were killed.

"We refused to help them if we could," Trudeau said. "We have helped to seal the cruel fates of many places in Auschwitz, Treblinka and Belzec. We failed her. And we are sorry for that.

It is likely that many Canadians were surprised to hear of this disgraceful moment in their own national history.

After all, a recent poll had revealed that less than 15% of Canadians had ever heard of And even after the sad story was told, only about a quarter believed that Canada was one of the countries that would reject it, with only 1

% having heard of the Belzec extermination camp and 2% of the Treblinka extermination camp.

This revelation was just one of the findings of a new study published early Thursday morning that describes the Holocaust awareness among Canadian adults in the days leading up to the International Holocaust Remembrance Day. Following a study from last year, there are some major gaps in American revealed knowledge about the Holocaust. It was commissioned by the Azrieli Foundation, a Canadian philanthropic organization dedicated to Holocaust education in its mission, in partnership with the Claims Conference, the Jewish group that commissioned the first survey.

"At a certain level it is very similar. [to the first study] and deeply disappointing, "says Greg Schneider, Claims Conference Executive Vice President.

The study generally shows that Canadians share basic knowledge about the Holocaust, but are often weak in terms of particularities 22% of Millennial respondents were less sure that they ever heard or saw the word "Holocaust." Of all respondents, 23% said that fewer than 6 million Jewish people were killed during the Holocaust Describing Germany as a country where the Holocaust occurred indicated significantly less that its effects spread to other places, such as Poland or Hungary, and only 55% could definitely say that they had ever heard of the idea of ​​anti-Semitism

Nearly a quarter of Millennials and 36% of respondents believed that Canada had an "open immigration" during the Holocaust Politics for Jewish Refugees "- an idea brought about by the history of St. Louis . In fact, Jewish immigrants and refugees were systematically kept out of Canada during this period. The policy was: "None is too much".

For those who organized the poll, the results are a kind of call to arms and a reminder of the importance of education.

"With our work on Holocaust education, we already had a unique perspective on the subject," says Naomi Azrieli, chairman and CEO of the Azrieli Foundation. "It's important to have the data to measure it."

In her own life, Azrieli says, her father's experience as a survivor has led the Holocaust to learn early at home. But she also remembers when she was first brought into space. Her teacher had done a good job with the material, she recalls, but she had the impression she was just lucky in that respect.

As in the US, Azrieli explains that the Canadian education system is not centralized. Where and how the topic appears is very different in the provinces and schools. Her family's foundation has repeatedly stated that teachers can and want to teach the subject well, but often need additional support to do so successfully. For example, during a recent teacher training course for the Foundation, she said she had never heard the word anti-Semitism before.

"Taking us out of the study as shocking as some of the statistics That is, teachers need to be supported more than ever. "Azrieli sys.

The study reinforces the notion that people want to know about this story, and they worry about the impact if it does not. 19659002] A whopping 47% of Canadians – actually four percentage points less than Americans – believe that there are currently many or many neo-Nazis in the United States. Almost half said that the Holocaust could happen in another Western democracy today. About a quarter believed that this was possible in Canada and 62% of the non-Millennials believe anti-Semitism exists in their country. The findings also show that knowledge runs counter to extremism because "the fewer Canadians know about the Holocaust, the more likely neo-Nazism will be tolerated," the study's summary says.

A large majority – 85% – said it was important to continue to teach the subject, especially so that the Holocaust would not happen again.

"People understand why it's so important to teach this," says Schneider of TIME.

Whether this understanding leads to greater knowledge The level of knowledge in the future remains to be seen.

Write to Lily Rothman at lily.rothman@time.com.


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