Dutch politicians reacted with shock Wednesday after a study showed almost a quarter of adults under 40 in the Netherlands believed the Holocaust was a myth or the number of deaths exaggerated.

The survey, done by the influential group Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany Conference in New York, found some 12 per cent of respondents overall shared the same view.

Researchers said that 23 per cent of Millennial and Generation Z respondents -- those born between the early 1980s and around 2010 -- thought the extermination of more than six million of Jews by the Nazis before and during World War II was a fallacy or overblown.

The findings "exposed a disturbing lack of awareness of key historical facts about the Holocaust and the Netherlands' own connection to Holocaust history," the Claims Conference group said.

"The numbers overall regarding denial and distortion are also higher compared to other countries we have surveyed," added the group's president Greg Schneider.

Other countries surveyed were Britain and Canada, where nine per cent of respondents overall held the same view, and Austria and France (10 per cent).

Although 89 per cent of 2,000 Dutch respondents knew of teenage diarist Anne Frank -- who hid from the Nazis with her family in a house in Amsterdam -- some 27 per cent did not know she died at the Belsen concentration camp shortly before the war ended in 1945.

"I find it shocking," Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said of the study's findings.

"We can debate everything, but it's important that we all agree on the facts," he told the ANP national news agency.

"It is astonishing and extremely worrying that almost a quarter of Dutch young people question these facts," tweeted Dutch Foreign Minister Wopke Hoekstra.

Dutch Education Minister Dennis Wiersma said "a stronger commitment is needed" in schools "to learn about the facts about WWII atrocities". 

Two-thirds of respondents said Holocaust education should be compulsory, and some 65 per cent of all respondents believed that there was anti-Semitism in the Netherlands.

The Netherlands is still coming to terms with its role in the persecution of Jews almost 80 years after the end of World War II.

It opened a Holocaust memorial in Amsterdam in 2021, inscribed with the names of more than 102,000 Dutch Jews killed during the war.

Many Dutch citizens, along with the police and railway companies, actively collaborated with the German occupation to round up Jews and send them to concentration camps.

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