1 in 6 children think Auschwitz is a Second World War theme park…


According to a Poll today 1 in 6 children think Auschwitz is a World War II theme park

News today shows that schools may not to be teaching children sufficiently about the Second World War and the events that surround it.

A poll of 2000 children, aged nine to fifteen, was conducted by a Scottish charity, Erskine, which provides nursing and medical care for veterans, and says it will now take part in a nationwide scheme to educate schoolchildren about the two world conflicts.

Some of the figures are genuinely shocking, but remind us, that unless we actively engage young people in understanding history, ‘we shall remember them,’ may not be a phrase that Britons use forever. I, more than once,  have been asked, by young people, why we wear poppies at this time of year.

Of the children surveyed, 40% said they did not know when Remembrance Day was, but thankfully 70% of the children surveyed said they wanted to learn more about the two wars in school.

There is hope then.

But, the work that Harry Patch and Henry Allingham both engaged in, as First World War veterans, should be encouraged in present day veterans, and they should go into schools to tell them more about our history, from the wars of the 20th Century and those of the 21st Century.

There’s more in The Telegraph here.

Leave a comment


  1. Do you believe everything you read in The Telegraph John?

    My response is here: http://liberalneil.blogspot.com/2009/11/theme-park-auschwitz-or-childrens-views.html

    • Neil,

      Not at all, but the statistics were discovered by a charity that works with veterans. So I think the Telepgraph is fairly reporting it.


  2. John,

    They have pretty much re-printed the Charity’s Press Release without apparently looking very closely at the way the survey was conducted.

    The survey did not actually show that, for example, 1 in 20 thought Hitler was football coach. More likely they didn’t know who Hitler was and ticked a random box instead.


    • Neil,

      I would agree with yu about the random nature of multiple choice being subject to guessing, rather than choosing a “Don’t Know” option. So looking at the poll you can deduce that a minimum of 1 in 20 were guessing. But, as you will notice I chose the most distubing statistic which is 1 in 6 think Auschwitz is a theme park.

      This may have been subject to guessing, you are right. But none of this makes up for the fact that my point is that we clearly need to be doing more to ensure that children receive more teaching in this respect so that figure goes down.

      40% not knowing what Remembrance Day is about is terrible and that’s why I was suggesting we should have more servicemen and veterans going into schools to tell children more about this aspect of our history.

      Best wishes,


  3. John,

    I have no problem at all with your suggestion about veterans visiting schools to talk about Rememberance Day, in fact I’m all for it.

    However, given that a good chunk of the sample of 9-15 year olds will not have got to the point in their curriculum where they study WWII it is no surprise to me that some of them don’t know about Auschwitz yet.

    And the fact that Auschwitz does nowadays host a ‘Visitor Attraction’, which some of them may have heard about, they may have ticked that box for that reason.

    There were two questions about Remembrance Day – neither asked whether the children knew what it was about. One question asked about the date – and 62% chose the correct date, with 21% choosing Nov 7th and 8% Nov 13th. The other question asked ‘What is the symbol of Remembrance Day’ and 80% got it right.

    What we don’t know is what the breakdown is between the 9/10 years olds and the 14/15 year olds. My guess is that there will be a huge variation. If there isn’t then the results would be very good for 9/10 year olds and very poor for 14/15 year olds. There is a huge difference in the level of knowledge I would expect between those age groups. I would be very surprised if 9/10 year olds were being taught about Auschwitz.

    Finally we don’t have a comparator with other ages. I would be interested to know what the answers to the same questions would be from 20 year olds, 30 year olds, 40 year olds etc.


  4. The most odd question asks them what the first scene of Saving Private Ryan depicted.

    More than half of the 9-15 year olds in the sample got it right, depsite the film having a 15 certificate in the UK.


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