Many Australians uninformed on Holocaust

The state memorial for holocaust survivor Eddie Jaku , 2021
The late Eddie Jaku was among Holocaust survivors living in Australia. -AAP Image

Nearly a quarter of Australians have little to no knowledge about the Holocaust, the genocide perpetrated by the Nazi regime that killed some six million Jews during the Second World War.

That's despite Australia having one of the largest per capita number of Holocaust survivors in the world.

A national survey of 3500 Australians released on Thursday on International Holocaust Remembrance Day also found "over 70 per cent know nothing about Australia's own connections to the Holocaust".

These Australian connections to the victims ranged from the supportive to the indifferent. 

They included Aboriginal activist William Cooper's stance against the Nazis' Kristallnacht - when Jewish businesses were targeted and vandalised in 1938 - and Australia's refusal to take in European refugees at the height of WWII.

The "largest survey of its type ever undertaken" was commissioned by the Gandel Foundation and conducted by Deakin University researchers across all states and territories. 

"The focus up until now on what has happened in Europe was considered very long ago and very far away - and it's not," Associate Professor Steve Cooke told AAP.

"We want to explore the intimate connections between Australian history and the Holocaust.

"These are people in our streets and suburbs who have been affected and the survey talks about the decisions of our government" he explained.

But Australians support finding out more about the genocide, with 66 per cent of those surveyed believing education about the Holocaust should be compulsory in schools.

The survey also linked "Holocaust awareness" with a more hospitable attitude towards disadvantaged groups, including asylum seekers and indigenous people.

Prof Cooke noted that half of respondents viewed the stolen generations of Aboriginal people to be a form of genocide.

The survey "allows us to have a more open conversation about our own difficult history of colonial violence and dispossession", he said.