45% of Britons have no idea what Auschwitz was

I came across this article a few days ago. It's a survey conducted by the BBC that found that 45% of Britons have never heard of Auschwitz, much less know what happened there 60 years ago. Among people under 35, nearly 60% have never heard of Auschwitz.

Sadly, my guess is that, if the same survey had been given here in the U.S., the numbers of people who have never heard of Auschwitz would likely have been even higher.


  1. Hi, I'm from the UK. There are only a couple of things that I can use in the defence of the UK public. There is a problem (particularly among the less economicaly able) of an anti-intelectual culture that has taken hold particularly among males. This 'Yob/Lad' culture views any schooling as 'boring', and so some would have missed out on this aspect of WW2. Also, the sample size wasn't fantastic. However, many of us in the UK try to spread awareness of the Shoah. I also imagine that many had heard of Auschwitz, but could not recal where from.
    Anyway, welcome to blogging, I've bookmarked yours, and plan to view it every now and then.
    (Sorry for the spelling - Dyslexia)

  2. Una autentica vergüenza, y casi seguro que en ese horrible lugar habria algún inglés también...

    Posted by chaveacanino

  3. The BBC will often - rather naughtily considering its public service remit - use this sort of polling and then draw rather tendentious / contentious postulates to generate interest in the BBC - in a rather tabloid fashion. Also, I think the same could have been said of my generation not having a clue what the Somme, Paschendale, Ypres, Verdun, etc meant. I suspect the same people polled would know just as little about Rwanda, 4 million slaughtered only ten years ago ... Oops I think I was trying to be reassuring but it didn't work ! PS got your link from Butterflies and Wheels

  4. Nevermind the yob culture in the UK, the middle class are also having the horror of the holocaust diminished by ill-advised comparisons between contemporary issues and Nazi Germany's atrocities.

    Much of this is related to the fashionable anti-Americanism and virulent anti-Israeli propaganda that has become common in recent years.

    Greetings from Black Triangle.

  5. Nevermind the yob culture in the UK, the middle class are also having the horror of the holocaust diminished by ill-advised comparisons between contemporary issues and Nazi Germany's atrocities.I'm fairly sure this is an inverse instantiation of Godwin's Law, and a fairly pernicious argument: "No criticizing America or Israel, because it demeans the Holocaust and makes people ignorant of history!"

    If the US does things which echo past actions of fascist governments, or if Israel does, it's hardly demeaning the past atrocities by pointing that out. In fact, by recognizing the harm that can be done by totalitarianism, and being aware of the precursors, one acknowledges the weight of history, and hopefully prevents it from happening again.

    And if we're going to get into the whole "trivialization by analogy" issue, shall we first talk about the Right's constant comparisons of Saddam Hussein (petty disarmed tyrant of third world country) to Hitler (heavily armed aggressively expansionistic dictator of world power)? No? I thought not.

  6. It's not an inverse Godwin law. What Black Triangle is saying is that the comparisons of Bush to Hitler are a form of Holocaust denial, as excellently shown by Eve Gerrard at Normblog in her piece, Talking Down the Holocaust. Criticism of Israel and American is not a problem, but suggestions that American or Israeli policy is morally equivalent to Nazism is abhorrent. It is quite possible to criticise them without having to resort to that tactic.

    There's a gallery of Bush-Hitler allusions on the web.

    As for your point about the Hitler-Saddam comparisons made by others, I think it is a stupid analogy. Saddam was evil enough on his own terms, even compared to many other dictators. As a left-winger I'm appalled to see some on the left wing who wish to gloss over this fact, because they see a democratic nation like the US as a bigger threat than a genocidal dictator. But then I'm part of the pro-war left.

  7. I think that if you rephrase it as "unsound or obviously fallacious comparisons to the Nazis or the Holocaust demeans the Holocaust," then it's pretty hard to argue with that. The problem is, everyone’s so quick with the allusions to Hitler and the Holocaust without actually understanding what they are talking about.

    Too many of these people who compare Bush, Israel, Sharon, Hussein, or whomever to Hitler clearly don’t have even a basic knowledge of Nazi history or Holocaust history—which can be easily demonstrated by asking them to justify their analogy using historical facts. I’m always willing to listen to and consider historical analogies to Naziism or the Holocaust when the person making them can back it up with a good understanding of history. If they can, I take the analogy seriously. The problem is, they seldom can.

  8. There is no such thing as "yob culture" in the UK, this is just the usual middle-class snobbery which blights this wretched country. There are plenty of yobs here, some with regional accents on scruffy housing estates and many with posh accents in London, Oxford and Cambridge.


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