We want our students to understand that genocide is always a human possibility.

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A survey released in April on Holocaust Remembrance Day has unearthed a lack of basic knowledge of the Nazi genocide. Interviewed by phone or online were 1,350 American adults (18 and older). Millennials were 31 percent of the sample.

According to the survey, 31 percent of all Americans and 41 percent of millennials (ages 18-34) believe that 2 million or fewer Jews were killed during the Holocaust, while 41 percent of Americans and 66 percent of millennials cannot say what Auschwitz was. The survey also revealed that 52 percent of Americans think incorrectly that Hitler came to power through force, and 22 percent of millennials “haven’t heard” or “are not sure if they have heard of the Holocaust.”

Other survey questions concerning the naming of countries where the Holocaust took place, the names of ghettos and concentration camps, and the persistence of anti-Semitism all yielded surprisingly low awareness rates.

This same survey should be given to millennials and others in states, such as Florida, New Jersey and Illinois, where Holocaust education is mandated. Knowing the results in these states and comparing them to the overall results would give us a better idea of how effective we have been in Holocaust education. It might also encourage other states to mandate a similar curriculum.

Two weeks after the survey results were made public, The New Yorker magazine published an excellent article titled “The Hitler Vortex” by Alex Ross that highlights important aspects of the Holocaust that form no part of the survey’s questions.

Ross points out, for example, that when Hitler spoke of the need for “Lebensraum,” living space, in Eastern Europe, he “often had America in mind.” Hitler admired the way Americans wiped out millions of Native Americans to make their own living space.

As Ross also acknowledges, when skeptical cronies of Hitler suggested that he would never get away with his proposed mass murders, he retorted: “Who, after all, is today speaking about the destruction of the Armenians?”

Ross emphasizes these points because he believes in the importance of viewing the Holocaust in the context of other genocides: “Only by stripping away [genocide’s] national regalia and comprehending its essential human form do we have any hope of vanquishing it.”

I stress them for the same reason. Genocides have happened before and after the Holocaust and can be seen in the case of the Holocaust to feed off one another. Hitler used the Native American genocide as a model for acquiring “Lebensraum” and indifference toward the Armenian genocide as a reason to go forth with his genocidal plans.

This is all the more reason to lament the fact that the United States and Israel, who are committed to Holocaust education, have never formally recognized the Armenian genocide.

Like all Holocaust educators, I believe in Holocaust education at the secondary and university levels, and I want my students to get the facts straight regarding the number of Jews slaughtered by the Nazis (about 6 million), the places where they were shot and gassed, the collaboration of others in this genocide, and the persistence of anti-Semitism almost 75 years after the end of World War II.

But I also expect them to know about and recognize other genocides, including our own. We should encourage a good deal of self-examination. As Ross points out, it’s appropriate to indicate that slavery was written into the U.S. Constitution and that Thomas Jefferson himself spoke of the need to “eliminate” or “extirpate” Native Americans.

We want our students to understand that genocide is always a human possibility. My friend, Berel Lang, insists that one of the greatest lessons of the Holocaust is that,  “There is no here about which you can say, it can’t happen here.”

Isn’t it a terrible thing to have to say, 80 years after Hitler said it, “Who, after all, is today speaking about the destruction of the Armenians?”