On the Eve of Rosh Hashanah, which begins tomorrow, the first-ever 50-state survey on Holocaust knowledge of American millennials and Gen Z this week revealed a shocking lack of basic Holocaust knowledge among adults under 40, including the following Florida-specific results:
- 61% of respondents did not know 6 million Jews were murdered in the Holocaust, with more 31% believing the death toll was fewer than 2 million
- 47% of respondents could not name one of the more than 40,000 concentration camps or ghettos established during WWII
- 13% of respondents believed Jews caused the Holocaust
- 50% of respondents did not know what Auschwitz was
Earlier this year, a bill sponsored by Senator Lauren Book (D-Plantation) mandating a uniformed statewide Holocaust education curriculum was signed into law by Governor DeSantis.
“Younger Floridians’ lack of basic Holocaust knowledge underscores the need to ensure proper education in our school system,” says Senator Book, a former classroom educator and member of the Senate Jewish Caucus. “Ignoring the history of ethnic and racial persecution leaves us vulnerable to racism, anti-Semitism, revisionist history, and evils similar to those of the past.”
HB 1213 – now Florida law – standardizes and ensures proper Holocaust education – a need realized when stories of a Florida public school Principal’s refusal to call the Holocaust’s occurrence a fact and the school district’s unacceptable delay in removing the administrator made international headlines last year. The law also mandates education on the Ocoee Election Day massacre of 1920 in Florida’s public schools to ensure greater racial equity in curriculum content.
The legislation went into effect July 1, and the Commissioner of Education’s Task Force on Holocaust Education will provide an update on their work to the State Board of Education on September 23, 2020.