The poll also reveals the likely influence of nationalism in how history is remembered. Americans were the most likely to think the US contributed most, while British people were the most likely to say it was the UK. Few responded that it was another country besides the three listed, but 4% of Germans did, and many of them wrote in “Germany” or “Germany itself” – suggesting a belief that the Third Reich was its own downfall. Germans are also the most likely to cite the Soviets (at 27%), who were the first of the Allies to arrive in Berlin in 1945, but more Germans (37%) nevertheless point to the US instead.
The findings contrast dramatically with a survey conducted by a French polling institute in May 1945, which found that 57% of the French public believed that the USSR contributed the most in the Second World War, compared to 20% for the US and 12% for the UK. A poll conducted in 2009 also found that 63% of Russians believed that the USSR could have won the war on its own.
There are some hints in YouGov’s poll that memories of the Cold War may be a factor.