Toronto Holocaust Museum - Source: Facebook

A new survey points to a growing skepticism about the Holocaust’s death toll, particularly among younger Canadians. 

Leger conducted a previous poll on the subject in 2019, which found 17% of Canadians believed that fewer than six million Jews died in the Holocaust. By May 2024, however, that number had increased to 24%.

The latest poll, which was conducted for the Association for Canadian Studies, found that even from February 2024 and mid-May 2024 there was an uptick in this sentiment.

Leger found that 5% of Canadians in February thought the Holocaust was exaggerated; by May, that number had jumped to 9%.  

In the span of four months, that view had more than doubled between those aged 45 to 54 and nearly doubled in those aged 25 to 34.

Canadians aged 25 to 34 were the most likely to think that the official figures of the Holocaust had been exaggerated, at 31%, followed by those aged 18 to 24, at 27%. Just over one-fifth of Canadians aged 35 and older shared this view. 

“The findings of the recent Leger poll should be of concern to all Canadians. While there are still survivors living amongst us, it is hard to fathom how the number of Canadians who question the scope of the Holocaust continues to rise,” Rich Robertson, director of research and advocacy with B’nai Brith Canada told True North.

“Suggestions that the Holocaust has been exaggerated are sinful and an insult to the millions of victims of Nazi persecution.”

The poll suggested that social media platforms could play a role in Holocaust downplaying, with users of Snapchat and Telegram being the most likely to hold skeptical beliefs.

More than half of Telegram users (52%) and almost a third of Snapchat users (31%) said that fewer than six million Jews died in the Holocaust.

X users were the most likely to know the correct number of how many Jews died, with nearly 67% accepting the official number, followed by LinkedIn users at 50%.

Almost half of YouTube users, 48%, followed by 47% of TikTok and Facebook users and 46% of Instagram users all believed the number to be six million.  

Canadians’ perception of Jews was also a key indicator in whether or not they believed the Holocaust to be exaggerated, with 36% of those who held a “very negative” view of Jews to believe it was. 

That number dropped to just 5% among Canadians who held a “very positive” view of Jews. 

Canadians who had never met a Jewish person were also more likely to view the Holocaust death toll as exaggerated.

Of the reasons cited for skepticism, one-fifth of respondents claimed that media, cinema and books were the reason for the number six million, while another 6% said it’s  “not the worst event in history.” 

A small minority of respondents, 7%, said it’s hard to know what the real figures are and 4% said it’s time for the world to move on. 

Only 1% of Canadians cited Israel’s war on Gaza as the reason for believing the Holocaust numbers to be inaccurate, while another 5% said it’s exaggerated to garner sympathy for Jewish people.

Robertson said the numbers underscore the importance of continuing to educate Canadians about the Holocaust and its death toll.

“It is essential that all members of Canadian society take the necessary action to stymie this alarming trend. Mandatory Holocaust education is an excellent start, but it is imperative that our leaders find ways to combat the growth in Holocaust skepticism and denialism amongst young adults who are no longer exposed to the mandatory curriculum,” said Robertson.