New Survey by the Azrieli Foundation and the Claims Conference Finds Critical Gaps in Holocaust Knowledge in Canada

January 24, 2019

Toronto: Naomi Azrieli, Chair and CEO of the Azrieli Foundation and Julius Berman, President of the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany (Claims Conference), jointly announced the release of a comprehensive Holocaust Knowledge and Awareness Survey of adults in Canada.

Similar to the April 2018 survey in the United States, the Canadian study found critical gaps regarding awareness of basic historical facts and detailed knowledge of the Holocaust. For example, 54% of those surveyed did not know that 6 million Jews were killed during the Holocaust.

Major findings from the survey include:

  • 22% of millennials (ages 18 – 34) haven’t heard or are not sure if they have heard of the Holocaust
  • An alarming 52% of millennials cannot name even one concentration camp or ghetto and 62% of millennials did not know that 6 million Jews were killed in the Holocaust.
  • Nearly one quarter of all Canadians (23%) believe that substantially less than 6 million Jews were killed (two million or fewer) during the Holocaust, while another near-quarter (24%) were unsure of how many were killed.
  • Nearly 6 out of 10 Canadians (57%) say fewer people seem to care about the Holocaust than they used to.

A task force that comprised Holocaust survivors, representatives from Holocaust museums, educational institutions, and leading nonprofits in the field of Holocaust education helped develop the survey questions. Participants in the task force included:  the Azrieli Foundation, Yad Vashem, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, and the Claims Conference.

Naomi Azrieli, Chair and CEO of the Azrieli Foundation, says, “When we heard about the first Claims Conference study by Schoen in the U.S., we were keen to know how we were doing in Canada. I was shocked and disappointed to see the Canadian results. Clearly there are gaps in our education system that must be filled, because as it stands now, as a society, we are not preparing the next generation to learn from the past.”

Significant gaps in knowledge about the Holocaust that are revealed by the survey include:

  • While there were over 40,000 camps and ghettos in Europe during the Holocaust, 49% of Canadian respondents couldn’t name a single camp or ghetto, similar to the U.S. study, where 45% could not name one such place.
  • 32% of respondents believed that Canada had an open immigration policy for any Jewish refugees fleeing Europe. In reality, Canada had one of the worst records of any democracy, allowing only 5,000 Jewish refugees into the country.

Julius Berman, Claims Conference President, noted, “Here we have yet another study showing that Holocaust education falls woefully short, and we must work together to correct this global issue. As the UN International Holocaust Remembrance Day approaches, we are reminded of how important education is if we are to ensure that the atrocities of the Holocaust will never happen again.”

While a significant majority of Canadian adults believe that fewer people care about the Holocaust today than they used to, there was a broad-based consensus for providing comprehensive Holocaust education in schools across the country.  82% of respondents believe all students should learn about the Holocaust in school, while 85% said it is important to keep teaching about the Holocaust so that it does not happen again.

Survey Methodology and Sample

The Holocaust Knowledge and Awareness Study was commissioned by the Azrieli Foundation in partnership with the Claims Conference.  Data was collected in French and English and analyzed by Schoen Consulting with a representative sample of 1100 Canadian adults via landline, cell phone, and online interviews.  Respondents were selected at random and constituted a demographically representative sample of the adult population in Canada.

About the Azrieli Foundation

For 30 years, the Azrieli Foundation has funded institutions as well as operated programs in Canada and in Israel. It supports eight priority areas, with the common thread of education running throughout its funding. Having published the stories of nearly ninety Canadian Holocaust survivors, the Azrieli Foundation has become a world leader in the publication and distribution of Holocaust memoirs in English and in French. The Azrieli Holocaust Survivor Memoirs Program connects edu­cators and students across Canada to these first-hand accounts. The program is guided by the certainty that, when paired with a solid historical foundation, these stories told personally and intimately from the perspective of those who lives through it can have an impact on readers that history texts do not.

In addition to providing Holocaust education, the Azrieli Foundation generously supports scientific and medical research, higher education, youth empowerment and school perseverance, music and the arts, architecture and quality of life initiatives for people with developmental disabilities.

 About the Claims Conference

The Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany (Claims Conference) a nonprofit organization with offices in New York, Tel Aviv and Frankfurt, secures material compensation for Holocaust survivors around the world. Founded in 1951 by representatives of 23 major international Jewish organizations, the Claims Conference negotiates for and disburses funds to individuals and organizations, and seeks the return of Jewish property stolen during the Holocaust. As a result of negotiations with the Claims Conference since 1952, the German government has paid more than $80 billion in indemnification to individuals for suffering and losses resulting from persecution by the Nazis. In 2019, the Claims Conference will distribute approximately $350 million in direct compensation to over 60,000 survivors in 83 countries and will allocate approximately $550 million in grants to over 200 social service agencies worldwide that provide vital services for Holocaust survivors such as homecare, food and medicine.

Canadian Press Contact: Abby Robins, The Azrieli Foundation,, 416-322-5928

U.S. Press Contact: Jamie Wilson, The Claims Conference,

Posted in Press Release