Press release №2207
29.08.2019
RUSSIANS ABOUT WORLD WAR II: CAUSES, ALLIES, ENEMIES

IN BRIEF

  • 90% of Russians reported the date for the start of World War II
  • 32% gave the correct answer
  • 52% were wrong stating that the war started in 1941
  • 6% provided another date
  • The main causes of WWII were struggle for resources and redivision of the world (14%), Germany’s strive to lead the world (13%), German’s desire to conquer Russia (10%)
  • Russians often correctly cite the USSR’s allies (USA, Great Britain, France) and enemies (Germany, Japan, Italy) in WWII
  • Ten years of the measurement show that Russians cnsider the USSR’s contribution to the victory to be the main or very important (88% in 2009, 84% in 2016, 84% in 2019)
  • Other important contributors are the USA (29%) and Great Britain (25%)

Russians consider that the Soviet Union’s contribution to WWII was enormous; however only one-third of respondents could name the date for the start of the war correctly.

MOSCOW, August 29, 2019.  Russian Public Opinion Research Center (VCIOM) presents the findings of a survey devoted to what Russians know about the history of the World War II as well as how they assess the contribution made by diffident countries to the victory.

What do we know about the beginning of the war and its causes?

Most of Russians remember the date for the start of WWII (90%). One–third of them give the correct answer (1939) (32%); they are mainly respondents with higher and incomplete higher education diplomas (48%). More than half of respondents (52%) consider that WWII started in 1941. A further 6% cited another date. Wrong answers were given basically by respondents who do not possess higher education diplomas. The main reason why WWII started was struggle for the resources and spheres of influence, according to 14% of respondents. Germany’s desire to conquer the world, expand its territory and become a global leader is also among important causes (13%). Ten percent of Russians cite Germany’s attempts to invade Russia. Every tenth respondent is confident that the conflict was caused by disagreement between countries and the global political situation at that time (7%). One-third of respondents failed to provide any answer about the causes of WWII (34%).

Russians about allies and enemies of the U.S.S.R. in WWII 

Most of Russians name allies and enemies of the U.S.S.R. in WWII unmistakably. Respondents mention the U.S.A., Great Britain and France. Those who are more likely to give correct answers are respondents aged 45-59 (73%, 66% and 34% respectively) and those aged over 60 (72%, 63% and 38% respectively); and less likely the 18-24-year-olds (31% pointed to the U.S.A.; 32%, England; 19%, France),  the 25-34-year-olds  (41%, 38% and 23% respectively) and those aged 35-44 (49%, 45% and 29% respectively). Eight percent cite Poland, and 5% point to China. Another 4% name Mongolia. Ukraine, Belarus, Spain and Czechoslovakia are mentioned by 2% (for each).

Russians confidently name the USSR’s enemies. Most of respondents are correct pointing to Germany headed by Hitler (77%). Correct answers are mainly given by young respondents aged 18-24 (80%). Thirty-eight percent name Japan (basically those aged 45-59 (45%)); 29% mention Italy headed by Benito Mussolini (primarily respondents aged 45-59 (33%) and those over 60 (35%)). Seventeen percent point to Romania; 8%, Poland; 7%, Hungary and Finland (for each). Five percent mention France and the U.S.A (each).

Contribution to victory

The majority of Russians believe that the Soviet Union’s contribution to the victory in WWII was the largest or enormous (88% in 2009; 84% in 2016, and 84% in 2019). This opinion is shared by men 90%), persons aged 45-59 (87%) and those aged 60 and over 60 (90%). The contribution made by the U.S.A. and Great Britain was also great (29% for the U.S.A.; 25% for Great Britain). Ten years ago about the same number of respondents expressed the same opinion (30% and 26% respectively). However Russians are more likely to say that these countries made small contribution to the victory (33%, for the U.S.A.; 38% for Great Britain).

In your opinion, how important was the contribution of the following countries to the Second World War? (closed-ended question one answer, % of total respondents)
  Year of measurement USSR USA Great Britain France China

Main

2009

86

4

2

2

1

2016 81 3 1 1 1
2019 69 1 2 1 2
Very important 2009 5 14 10 9 4
2016 11 7 3 4 3
2019 15 8 4 2 2
Rather important 2009 2 30 26 22 8
2016 3 22 22 21 11
2019 10 29 25 19 12
Not quite important 2009 1 30 36 34 18
2016 0 41 40 40 26
2019 1 33 38 40 26
Almost no contribution 2009 1 8 9 14 47
2016 0 14 17 16 35
2019 1 19 17 25 39
Don’ t know 2009 5 14 17 19 22
2016 5 13 17 18 24
2019 4 9 14 13 20

Forty percent of respondents believe that the contribution of France to the victory was also unimportant. As to China, Russians are confident that the contribution of this country was also insignificant; 39% think that there was no any contribution at all. 

VCIOM-Sputnik survey was conducted on August 27, 2019. The survey involved 1,600 Russians aged 18 and over. The survey was telephone-based and carried out using stratified dual-frame random sample based on a complete list of landline and mobile phone numbers operating in Russia. The data were weighted according to selection probability and social and demographic characteristics. The margin of error at a 95% confidence level does not exceed 2.5%. In addition to sampling error, minor changes in question wording and different circumstances arising during the fieldwork can introduce bias into the survey.

Note: Using materials from the site www.wciom.ru or wciom.com, as well as distributed by VCIOM, the reference to the source (or hyperlink for the electronic media) is obligatory.
  Results of our study
  Ratings
  In focus
  News