A few months ago, I wrote the following:
This is a series of polls that took place in France in 1945, 1994, and 2004, respectively, asking which nation was most responsible for the defeat of Germany. Right after France’s liberation, with American and British soldiers walking the streets, a solid majority of 57% nonetheless believed that it had been the Soviet Union. But by 2004, the situation had cardinally reversed itself, with 58% now crediting the Americans and only 20% – the Soviet Union. This even constituted a decline relative to 1994, despite the intervening decade having been one of the best ever for West-Russia relations. The fact that great bulk of German divisions and airpower were destroyed on the Eastern Front pales into insignificance besides the power of Cold War and just plain anti-Russian propaganda acting on the human biomasses over the course of two generations. …
I haven’t seen any similar polls from the US or Britain, but I very much doubt they would be substantially different.
Updated with an additional IFOP poll for France, and some VCIOM polls on the topic that I dug up for Russia, I believe I have assembled what may be the most comprehensive graph on changing Western attitudes towards the Soviet victory in World War 2 anywhere on the Internet.
Differences between the polls from different organizations shouldn’t be overstressed. For instance, the wording differs quite a bit poll to poll. But the general picture is clear and depressing.
As we can see, the percentage of Frenchmen who believe that the Soviet Union made the greatest contribution to Allied victory in World War Two has declined continuously from 1945, reaching an asymptote around 20%-25% from the 1990s on. Germany and the UK aren’t quite as historically illiterate/brainwashed as France on this issue, but the gap isn’t anything to write home about. Well, okay, at least the UK is understandable on some level; they are voting patriotically. Otherwise, they are actually the only modern Western nation to rate the Soviet contribution at a marginally higher level than the American one. But the German responses are completely inexplicable, considering that 75%-80% of Axis manpower and aircraft losses accrued to the Soviets.
But I suppose that so far as modern Germans concerned, just like Westerners in general, the Eastern Front is a place of zerg rushes and Russian rapine, while the real course of the war was decided in North Africa, the Atlantic, and the beaches of Normandy.
|USSR||USA||Great Britain||Other/Don’t Know|
|UK 2015 (ICM)||13%||16%||46%||25%|
|Germany 2015 (ICM)||17%||52%||4%||27%|
|France 2015 (ICM)||8%||61%||9%||22%|
|USA 2015 (YouGov)||11%||55%||7%||27%|
|UK 2015 (YouGov)||15%||14%||50%||21%|
|Sweden 2015 (YouGov)||16%||33%||22%||29%|
|Germany 2015 (YouGov)||27%||37%||7%||29%|
|France 2015 (YouGov)||15%||47%||14%||24%|
|Finland 2015 (YouGov)||24%||32%||13%||31%|
|France 2015 (IFOP)||23%||54%||18%||5%|
|France 2014 (IFOP)||23%||49%||18%||10%|
|Russia 2010 (VCIOM)||91%||3%||1%||5%|
|Russian 2009 (VCIOM)||87%||4%||2%||7%|
|France 2004 (IFOP)||20%||58%||16%||6%|
|Russian 2002 (VCIOM)||92%||2%||1%||5%|
|France 1994 (IFOP)||25%||49%||16%||10%|
|France 1945 (IFOP)||57%||20%||12%||11%|
PS. The YouGov poll also included data for Denmark and Norway. I did not bother to include them because they have limited influence on international affairs and their results are similar to Sweden’s anyway.