One in 20 UK adults do not believe the Holocaust took place, while one in 12 believe its scale has been exaggerated, a survey has found.
Almost two-thirds of 2,000 respondents either could not say how many Jews were murdered or “grossly” under-estimated the number, the survey by the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust (HMDT) found.
Holocaust survivor Steven Frank, who was one of 93 children who survived the Theresienstadt camp in Czechoslovakia along with his two brothers, said the results of the survey were “terribly worrying”.
The 83-year-old said he was “surprised” that the survey found as many as one in 20 people did not believe the Holocaust took place.
He said: “In my experience, people don’t have a solid understanding of what happened during the Holocaust and that’s one of the reasons I am so committed to sharing what happened to me.
“At one of my talks, I met someone who said the Holocaust didn’t happen. The only way to fight this kind of denial and antisemitism is with the truth – I tell people what happened, what I saw and what I experienced.
“Education is so important. If we ignore the past, I fear history will repeat itself.”
Reflecting on the survey results, HMDT chief executive Olivia Marks-Woldman said: “Such widespread ignorance and even denial is shocking.
“Without a basic understanding of this recent history, we are in danger of failing to learn where a lack of respect for difference and hostility to others can ultimately lead.”
“With a rise in reported hate crime in the UK and ongoing international conflicts with a risk of genocide, our world can feel fragile and vulnerable. We cannot be complacent.”
On Sunday, hundreds of thousands of people gathered to mark Holocaust Memorial Day. Survivors, politicians and members of the public did so to remember the six million Jewish victims.
Ceremonies in London, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland were among more than 11,000 activities which took place to mark the day.
In Westminster, a national commemorative ceremony took place – which also acknowledges the 25th anniversary of the Rwanda genocide and 40 years since the end of the genocide in Cambodia.
Events have also taken place across the world.
Children placed flowers at the Holocaust Memorial in the Greek city of Thessaloniki as crowds gathered to pay their respects.
Of the 65,000 Greek Jews that were killed during the war, around 50,000 were citizens of Thessaloniki and almost 45,000 died at the Auschwitz concentration camp.
In Warsaw, Poland, which was under Nazi German occupation during the war, around 50 former prisoners of Auschwitz placed flowers at an execution wall on the 74th anniversary of the camp’s liberation.
Poland’s prime minister and the ambassador of Israel and Russia attended the official ceremonies at the former camp.
Several survivors gave testimony of their years of terror at Auschwitz, with one recalling the smell of burning flesh upon arrival.
In Saint Petersburg, Russia, tanks and air missile systems rolled through the centre to mark the end of the siege of Leningrad that claimed over 800,000 lives.
The commemorations included a military parade in the city’s Palace Square featuring more than 2,500 servicemen, tanks and multiple launch rocket systems.
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