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United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Unveils New Poll: Americans Believe Genocide Is Preventable

Washington, DC — A new poll commissioned by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum finds that 67 years after the Holocaust, Americans believe genocide is still very possible yet preventable. The poll also finds Americans want the US government to play a major role in stopping genocide from happening around the world.

Americans expressed support for a range of genocide-prevention strategies, especially for education about the Holocaust and other past atrocities. They are supportive of military action in cases like Syria and Sudan but they want the US to work in concert with other nations, according to a new telephone survey of 1,000 people conducted by Penn Schoen Berland between June 30 and July 10, 2012.

The poll results were released in conjunction with the symposium Imagine the Unimaginable: Ending Genocide in the 21st Century held at the Museum, which featured a keynote address by US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Presented in cooperation with the Council on Foreign Relations and CNN, the symposium examined the challenges of preventing genocide in the years to come, as well as the opportunities and risks posed by new technologies, demographic changes, and other trends. Results of the poll helped guide the discussion during two panels that featured leading foreign policy experts, authors, academics, and business leaders, including Chairman of the US National Intelligence Council Christopher Kojm, Peter Schwartz, Timothy Snyder, Sarah Sewall, Arwa Damon, Richard Williamson, and Strive Masiyiwa. The panels were moderated by CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer and Washington Post investigative reporter Dana Priest.

“Sixty-seven years after the Holocaust, after which the world vowed ‘Never Again,’ it is unacceptable that genocide persists,” said Museum Chairman Tom A. Bernstein. “We are heartened by the results of this poll, which show the American people understand the danger that genocide still poses today and that they believe that the US should be a leader in helping to prevent it, working together with other countries and international organizations. The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum hopes this poll, today’s symposium, and our ongoing efforts will make a substantial contribution to understanding and preventing genocide and other mass atrocities in the future.”

“The results are striking in that they show a deep American concern for genocide and a strong desire for global action to face this threat,” said Mark Penn, former presidential pollster and CEO of Burson-Marsteller and Penn Schoen Berland. “Americans believe they have a moral responsibility to prevent or stop genocide around the world, even if it means putting boots on the ground. But they view multilateral action as the most effective military strategy for prevention. They are well educated on the correct definition of genocide, especially young Americans, and believe education plays an important role in preventing this threat.”

The results of the poll are based on the telephone interviews of 1,000 Americans. The poll has a margin of error of 3.1 percent. The symposium and poll were made possible in part by a generous pro-bono contribution from Burson-Marsteller and Penn Schoen Berland.

Excerpts from the symposium and key findings from the poll will be available at

To see the full results of the poll, go to (external link).




Americans believe genocide is very possible but also preventable.


  • 94% of Americans believe genocide is still very much a concern and could occur today.
  • 66% of Americans believe it is preventable.


Americans believe the US government has a major role to play in stopping genocide.


  • 69% think the US should prevent or stop genocide or mass atrocities from occurring in another part of the world.
  • 78% support the US taking military action to stop genocide or mass atrocities.


Americans support a range of strategies for preventing genocide (e.g., education) and are supportive of military action but want the US to work in concert with other nations.


  • 53% say multilateral action is the most effective military strategy, while only 10% say unilateral action by the US is most effective.
  • 76% believe education about the history of genocide can help prevent future atrocities.
  • Fewer than one in ten Americans say the US is most responsible for preventing genocide; most believe international bodies or the countries involved in a conflict are more responsible.


Americans believe the international community is not effective at genocide prevention.


  • 55% believe the international community is not effective at protecting civilians from genocide or mass atrocities.
  • One in two Americans believes the International Criminal Court is not effective at preventing genocide.


About the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum


A living memorial to the Holocaust, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum inspires citizens and leaders worldwide to confront hatred, prevent genocide, and promote human dignity. Federal support guarantees the Museum’s permanent place on the National Mall, and its far-reaching educational programs and global impact are made possible by generous donors. For more information, visit


About Burson-Marsteller


Burson-Marsteller, established in 1953, is a leading global public relations and communications firm. It provides clients with strategic thinking and program execution across a full range of public relations, public affairs, reputation and crisis management, and advertising and digital strategies. The firm’s seamless worldwide network consists of 73 offices and 83 affiliate offices, together operating in 108 countries across six continents. Burson-Marsteller is a unit of the WPP Group, the world’s leading communications services network. For more information, visit (external link).


About Penn Schoen Berland


Penn Schoen Berland (PSB), a unit of the WPP Group, is a global research-based consultancy that specializes in messaging and communications strategy for blue-chip political, corporate, and entertainment clients. It has over 30 years of experience in leveraging unique insights about consumer opinion to provide clients with a competitive advantage. PSB executes polling and message testing services for Fortune 100 corporations and has helped elect more than 30 presidents and prime ministers around the world. For more information, visit (external link).

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