“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it,” Spanish philosopher George Santayana warned us.
A new survey by Claims Conference, an organization seeking justice for Holocaust victims, suggests that the U.S. is becoming dangerously close to forgetting the Holocaust. The survey shows that a significant portion of the population is woefully misinformed about its horrific details.
Thirty-one percent of all Americans and 40 percent of Millennials do not believe six million Jews died in the Holocaust, but 2 million or less, according to the survey. Forty-five percent of Americans are also unable to name a single concentration camp.
Harvard Business School historian Nancy Koehn joined Boston Public Radio Tuesday to talk about these startling revelations.
"We are living in a time when these kinds of numbers, this kind of survey, makes us a little bit more anxious given the rise of authoritarianism, given the rise of all kinds of projections of enemy status on different people from immigrants, to Jews to African-Americans, to all kinds of folks,” said Koehn.
Koehn pointed to the rise of antisemitism around the world, and specifically, the display of neo-Nazi rage last year during the protests in Charlottesville, Virginia.
“It is the systemization of this kind of evil, practiced against a single group of people, under a regime that is democratically elected, that to me is so frightening,” Koehn said.
Nancy Koehn holds the James E. Robeson Chair of business administration at the Harvard Business School. Her latest book is "Forged in Crisis: The Power of Courageous Leadership in Turbulent Times." To listen to her full interview with Boston Public Radio, click on the audio player above.