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Poll: Majority in Western Countries Have No Idea USSR Played Main Role in Defeating Germany

Only 14% realized the Red Army was the primary contributor to winning the war on the ground

This post first appeared on Russia Insider

Peter Schulze, professor of political sciences at the Georg-August University in Göttingen, has noticed a change in the last few years in the collective awareness of Europeans, and particularly Germans, when estimating the role of the Soviet Union in World War II.

Results of a survey by Sputnik: Polls in context of the 8th of May show, that scarcely 15% of the respondents view the role of the Soviet Union in WWII as an important one. The majority (79% in the USA, 58% in France, 50% in Germany) considers the US-army having played the most important part. Thus, Americans highly overestimate their contribution.

“The second front was opened only in 1944, when the Red Army was almost at the Oder River”, Peter Schulze points out in a Sputnik-Interview with Nikolay Yolkin, “besides, one has to take into account, that there has been no significant historical consciousness influencing the mass consciousness whatsoever in the USA during and after WWII.”

In France it is already shocking (12 %), admitted the scientist. “One expects the population to have a detailed and deep historical understanding for the Soviet Union, since there still is a subway-station with the name Stalingrad”.

Despite the British population tending to openness and fairness, there is also overestimation of self-importance of their role in WWII, continues professor Schulze. Somewhat more than a half of the Brits (59%) think, that is has been their country playing the most important part in the battle against Nazism, on contrary to 11% for the USA and 15% for the Soviet Union. “This is a horrifying result for the European partners. However, it is normal for the USA, because they’re just like they are”.

The survey of Sputnik. Polls might have, too, been influenced by the negative image of Russia currently maintained by leading western media, says Peter Schulze, therefore one cannot hope for a positive evaluation of the Soviet Union. “Massmedia plays an extremely blatant role of defaming and distorting mass consciousness”.

The situation is somewhat different in Germany. “Many Germans have absolutely no doubts considering who contributed the most in overpowering German Fascism. It has been the Red Army, that defeated Hitler-Germany. There was, of course, support from the USA and the UK, even Poland, whose army of volunteers, based in England, played an essential role during aerial combat in the skies of Germany. This is something taught in schools and universities. Nobody could have doubted the main burden was carried by and the majority of victims were among the people of the Soviet Union.”

Alas, during the cold war propaganda repeatedly tried to stigmatize the Soviet Union as an occupational force stationed in Eastern Germany, emphasizes the expert on Russia. “The interesting thing is, that today a significantly higher amount of people sees the Soviet Union’s major role in the demise of national socialism – 16% in Western Germany, 55% in Eastern Germany and 35% among the inhabitants of Berlin.” Peter Schulze explains this, pointing out, that it was the Soviet Union under Gorbachov, that launched reunification and loyally conducted the withdrawal of the Soviet army in 1994 – a substantial impact on German consciousness.  

The survey was carried out on behalf of Sputnik. Polls in the middle of April by the big British research association Populus in USA and UK and by the oldest French opinion polling organization Ifop in France and Germany. The selection represents the population by gender, age and geography.

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