Knowledge and Remembrance of the Holocaust in Slovakia (2/5)

Knowledge and Remembrance of the Holocaust in Slovakia (2/5)

Key Findings

1. A majority of Slovaks favor keeping the memory of the Holocaust alive. Thus, 63 percent of Slovaks feel that “we should keep the remembrance of the Nazi extermination of the Jews strong even after the passage of time,” while 24 percent maintain that “more than 50 years after the end of World War II, it is time to put the memory of the Nazi extermination of the Jews behind us.” Along similar lines, but at a lower level, 55 percent of Slovaks deem it “essential” (22 percent) or “very important” (33 percent) that “Slovaks know about the Nazi extermination of the Jews,” while 38 percent see it as “only somewhat important” (26 percent) or “not important” (12 percent). In a more positive vein, 72 percent of Slovaks regard the “remembrance of the Nazi extermination of the Jews” as “important for everyone,” while 17 percent see it as “important only for Jews.” Finally, 59 percent of Slovaks answer “yes” when asked “Should teaching about the Nazi extermination of the Jews during the Second World War be required in Slovak schools?”; in contrast, 23 percent say “no,” while 18 percent “don’t know.”

2. Slovaks have strong factual knowledge about some aspects of the Holocaust, but are less knowledgeable about other aspects. Thus, in response to two open-ended questions, 81 percent of Slovaks correctly identify Auschwitz, Dachau and Treblinka as concentration camps, and 78 percent of Slovaks cite the yellow star or a variant as the symbol that Jews were forced to wear during the Second World War. In addition, 58 percent of Slovaks offer a fully or partially accurate response when asked “As far as you know, what does the term ‘the Holocaust’ refer to?”: 9 percent mention the extermination/murder/ persecution/treatment of Jews by Hitler/Nazis/Germans; 43 percent mention the extermination/murder/ persecution of Jews without tying these to Nazism or Germany; and 6 percent give other relevant responses, including concentration camps, German death camps, Hitler, Nazis, Germans, World War II, or the 1940’s; and 29 percent “don’t know.” In contrast to the above, only 24 percent of Slovaks, in a multiple-choice format, select “6 million” as the approximate number of Jews killed by the Nazis during the Second World War; 42 percent choose much lower figures, and 28 percent “don’t know.”

3. Holocaust denial has little impact among Slovaks, with the vast majority affirming that the Holocaust did happen. Thus, when asked “Some people claim that the Nazi extermination of the Jews never happened. Have you ever heard this claim, or not?” 84 percent of Slovaks answer “have not heard this claim,” 13 percent “heard this claim,” and 3 percent “don’t know.” When asked as a follow-up “Does it seem possible to you that the Nazi extermination of the Jews never happened, or do you feel certain that it happened?” 91 percent of Slovaks respond “feel certain that it happened,” 2 percent “seems possible it never happened,” and 8 percent “don’t know”.

4. A mixed picture emerges with regard to the respondents’ own attitudes toward Jews. On the one hand, only 9 percent of Slovaks believe that Jews “behave in a manner which provokes hostility in our country,” and only 15 percent think that Jews have “too much influence in our society.” On the other hand, 53 percent of Slovaks take the position (23 percent “strongly agree”; 30 percent “somewhat agree”) that “Jews exert too much influence on world events.” In addition, 26 percent of Slovaks maintain that “Jews exert too much influence on events in Slovakia,” and 25 percent “strongly agree” (7 percent) or “somewhat agree” (18 percent) that “Jews are exploiting the memory of the Nazi extermination of the Jews for their own purposes.” In considering Jews as potential neighbors, 66 percent of Slovaks indicate that it “ wouldn’t make any difference”; 16 percent would “like to have” Jews as neighbors, and 16 percent “prefer not.” Linked to all this, 42 percent of Slovaks indicate that they personally know someone who is Jewish.

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