Four in ten German school kids don’t know what Auschwitz was, survey finds

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Four in ten German school kids don’t know what Auschwitz was, survey finds
Auschwitz-Birkenau. Photo: DPA

Only 59 percent of German school children aged 14 or older know that Auschwitz-Birkenau was a Nazi death camp, a study released on Thursday shows.


The study by the Körber Institute found that less than half (47 percent) of 14 to 16 year olds had heard of the death camp where over one million people were murdered between 1941-1945.

Their peers aged 17 or over were more likely to have heard of Auschwitz, but three in ten still didn’t know what it was.

In the population as a whole, 86 percent of Germans know what the camp's purpose was.

“We are worried to see that ever fewer German states offer history as a separate subject during middle school,” said Sven Tetzlaff, head of educational research at the Körber Institute.

“For me, this is one of the reasons why such a shockingly large number of school kids don’t know about the Auschwitz concentration camp.”

The Körber Institute study looked into the importance of history as a school subject in the eyes of the German public and also school children.

Some 1,009 Germans from the age of 14 upwards were questioned for the study, including 502 school children.

The survey showed that 95 percent of Germans believe that history classes are important or very important. Most of them want the classes to teach school children to think critically and for the school children to be able to learn lessons that they can apply to the present day.

The school kids involved in the survey said that they found the quality of history teaching in their classes good. Three quarters said the subject was taught in a clear way, while 69 percent said that they found the classes stimulating and varied.

“Young people can be given a passion for history only when it has something to do with them and their lives,” said Tetzlaff.


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