Jan 24, 2024 - World

Less than 250K Holocaust survivors remain worldwide, study finds

Sandy Gurowski hugs her husband Manny Gurowski, 91, a child survivor of the Holocaust, as they pose in their home on Jan. 26, 2023 in Delray Beach, Florida.

Sandy Gurowski hugs her husband Manny Gurowski, 91, a child survivor of the Holocaust, as they pose in their home on Jan. 26 in Delray Beach, Fla. Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

The number of Holocaust survivors globally has dwindled to less than a quarter of a million, and many are struggling with poverty in their final years, a new demographic study has found.

Why it matters: Child survivors — the last generation of the Holocaust — are aging as advocates race to record their testimonies and as rising antisemitism and misinformation threaten to erase their stories.

Details: About 245,000 Holocaust survivors are living across more than 90 countries, according to a report released Tuesday by the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany (Claims Conference).

  • The vast majority (95%) are child survivors born between 1928 and 1946. The median age of survivors is 86, and around 61% are women.
  • Roughly half of the survivors live in Israel, while 16% reside in the United States, the country with the second largest percentage, the study found.
  • Around a third of the survivors in the U.S. are living in poverty, Greg Schneider, executive vice president of the Claims Conference, tells Axios.

Zoom in: 40% of survivors worldwide access or have accessed social welfare services from over 300 agencies that receive grants administered by the Claims Conference.

  • Services include home care, food, medicine and transportation, among others.

What they're saying: "Each one of these people has a unique story and a unique history that teaches us something," Schneider said.

  • "After what they endured in their youth, we think it's essential that they live in some dignity for these final years."
  • The data the Claims Conference collects helps it negotiate with Germany around compensation, Schneider said.

Flashback: The German government agreed in 2021 to extend compensation to Holocaust survivors who lived through the Leningrad Siege in World War II and survivors from two other groups that had never previously received pensions.

  • Around 6,500 survivors in Israel, North America, the former Soviet Union and Western Europe become eligible for a monthly pension of $443, the Claims Conference said.

The big picture: Antisemitism and white nationalism have risen on the political landscape in several countries — including the United States.

  • That rise is fueling Holocaust deniers' platforms on social media and spreading misinformation about the past.
  • Most recently, the Washington Post reported that a small but growing group online is spreading falsehoods and misleading narratives about Hamas' Oct. 7 attack on Israel, falsely claiming the attacks were staged.

Between the lines: Museums that focus on racial violence and antisemitism are turning to holograms, artificial intelligence and virtual reality to allow visitors to have simulated "conversations" with Holocaust survivors and hear the words of enslaved people.

Of note: The Claims Conference study focuses primarily on Jewish survivors and does not examine survivors who are Romani, disabled, queer or other backgrounds the Nazi regime targeted.

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