Survey reveals about one-third of North American students feel the Holocaust was fabricated or exaggerated
David Korn understands the horrors of the Holocaust. He survived. His parents did not.
“They were taken to Auschwitz. Both of them,” he said.
Abraham and Miriam Korn were two of nearly six million Jewish people murdered by the Nazis.
Before his parents were deported from Czechoslovakia (now Slovakia), he and his brother were brought to an orphanage where they were kept hidden and protected under the care of Pastor Vladimir Kuna.
“There were 70 kids in the orphanage and 26 were Jewish. He took very big risk of himself,” Korn said.
Korn's aunt and uncle survived and eventually returned to reunite with him and his brothers. They moved to Israel after first going to France. Eventually, Korn came to Canada to work as an engineer.
“Somebody was keeping me safe so I would be able to tell the story to other people,” he said.
His story is one of three experiences shared in a new book called At Great Risk: Memoirs of Rescue During the Holocaust.
And its release is well-timed.
A new survey, which was commissioned by Canadian charity Liberation75, shows that almost 3,600 North American students revealed gaps in Holocaust education, finding that social media is a significant source of information for some students.
“We shouldn't be surprised by the outcome. We are but we shouldn’t be because there’s no mandated holocaust education within the curriculum anywhere in Canada,” said Marilyn Sinclair, of Liberation75.
For the study, students in Grades 6 through 12 were surveyed both before and after a two-day virtual conference focusing on the Holocaust. Almost 80 per cent of the students were in Canada, while the rest were in U.S. classrooms.
Just over six per cent identified as Jewish.
Results showed 33 per cent of the students surveyed either don't know what to think about the Holocaust, think the number of Jews who died has been exaggerated, or question whether the Holocaust even happened. The survey also found 40 per cent of students got their information on social media.
“So, of course they’re getting misinformation, disinformation, fake news. So, we shouldn’t be surprised that they don’t know as much about the Holocaust as they should, or that what they know is often false,” Sinclair said.
Retired Halifax Regional Municipality councillor and teacher, Bob Harvey, says he did teach the Holocaust when he taught students about Second World War history, but that was 25 years ago.
“History is no longer compulsory in the selection of subjects. Back in the 1970s, history was compulsory and everybody took it in (Grade) 10, 11 and 12,” said Harvey.
Harvey believes history must be told so it doesn’t repeat itself.
The Atlantic Jewish Council agrees.
“And that’s not just true for the Holocaust,” Arik Drucker said, the president of Atlantic Jewish Council. “The Rwanda genocide is very recent, that’s within our lifetime, so it’s important for our young kids to understand these events. They’re real.”
The Atlantic Jewish Council is encourages any educators who wish to learn more about curriculum to help teach the Holocaust to contact them.
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