Nearly half of Britons in a poll said they had never heard of Auschwitz, the Nazi death camp in southern Poland that became a symbol of the Holocaust and the attempted genocide of the Jews.
The results of the survey conducted by the BBC were released Thursday as Britain’s public broadcaster announced it will show a new series next January to mark the 60th anniversary of the concentration camp’s liberation.
“We were amazed by the results of our audience research,” said Laurence Rees, a producer on the series, “Auschwitz: The Nazis & the ‘Final Solution.'”
“It’s easy to presume that the horrors of Auschwitz are engrained in the nation’s collective memory, but obviously this is not the case,” Rees said.
The survey found that 45 percent of those surveyed had not heard of Auschwitz. Historians estimate that anywhere from one million to three million people, about 90 percent of them Jews, were killed there.
Among women and people younger than 35, 60 percent had never heard of Auschwitz, despite the recent popularity of films such as “Schindler’s List,” “Life is Beautiful” and “The Pianist,” which depict the atrocities of the Holocaust.
“The name Auschwitz is quite rightly a byword for horror, but the problem with thinking about horror is that we naturally turn away from it,” Rees said.
The BBC said the research was based on a nationally representative postal survey of 4,000 adults 16 and older.
The broadcaster is marking Holocaust Memorial Day, January 27, with a variety of television and radio programs.
The Auschwitz series for BBC2 is based on nearly 100 interviews with survivors and perpetrators and is the result of three years of research with the assistance of professors Ian Kershaw and David Cesarani.