A Pennsylvania woman set out with a video camera to learn what college students in her state know about the Holocaust — and discovered an incredible lack of knowledge not only of the genocide of the Jews, but of basic facts about U.S. history and World War II.
Rhonda Fink-Whitman visited college campuses in Pennsylvania this fall, including the venerated Ivy League institution the University of Pennsylvania, where she was repeatedly faced with a remarkable ignorance about events that took place in the last century.
Students didn’t know where Normandy was, why U.S. forces landed there, why the U.S. even entered the war or who was president at the time. (Wilson, Eisenhower and JFK were among the guesses.) One student didn’t know who Anne Frank was, because he said he never read the book.
Another student thought African Americans may have been targeted in the Holocaust.
Fink-Whitman started her interviews with the simple question, “What was the Holocaust?” Here are some of the answers she heard:
- “Uh, I’m on the spot now.”
- “It was a, uh, I don’t know how to say it like. It was something that happened in. Oh my God, I know the answer but I don’t know how to explain it.”
- “I have no idea.”
- “I have no idea … is it Europe? I don’t think so.”
She also asked which country Adolf Hitler was the leader of:
- “I forget.”
At the University of Pennsylvania, Fink-Whitman asked students how many years ago the Holocaust occurred. One woman thought it happened around 1800 and then guessed 300 years ago.
Students couldn’t say what kind of camps prisoners were held in. When prompted with the letter “c,” a male student figured out the answer “concentration camps.” But he couldn’t name even one. He also didn’t know what Auschwitz was when asked.
The interviewees didn’t know what the Nuremberg Laws or trials were or which president “sent a boatload of Jews back to certain death in Europe.” One thought the Final Solution was the Nuremberg Trials.
One man thought 3 million Jews were killed, then revised his guess to 300 million.
Another student thought Winston Churchill was an American military leader.
One man thought a Star of David was tattooed on prisoners of Auschwitz, as opposed to numbers.
“Who were known as the allies?” Fink-Whitman asked.
“The allies of Hitler?” a female student replied.
“They were called ‘the Allies’ of America” the interviewer clarified.
Fink-Whitman also included in her YouTube video interviews with students who knew many facts about the Holocaust having studied it in high school.
Fink-Whitman, who wrote the book “94 Maidens” about her mother’s experience surviving the Holocaust, said that she would like to see Holocaust education be mandatory in Pennsylvania public schools from grades six through 12 as it is presently in California, Florida, Illinois, New Jersey and New York.
“You can’t blame the kids,” she said. “Nobody’s teaching it to them. By the time they get to college, they should know a thing or two about the Holocaust and other genocides so when the plague of denial creeps onto their campus they’re armed and ready with the truth.”
She says her video seen below is not meant to “embarrass, humiliate or shame” anyone.
(H/T: Israel Hayom)