D-Day anniversary: Britons disagree with other countries on who did the most to defeat the Nazis

Christien PhebySenior Business Journalist
Matthew SmithHead of Data Journalism
June 04, 2024, 1:07 PM GMT+0

Did the US, Soviet Union, or United Kingdom make the greatest contribution?

Almost as soon as the Nazis were defeated, arguments began over who played the most important part in the Allied victory over Hitler.  With this Thursday marking the 80th anniversary of D-Day – and the beginning of the end of the war – YouGov asked the British, French, German and American public to weigh in on the long-running debate.

The data shows that Britons are much more likely than people in the other countries to think that the United Kingdom made the biggest contribution to Hitler’s downfall.

Two in five Britons believe the UK contributed the most to defeating the Germans (39%). A fifth say the United States deserves the lion’s share of the credit in the European theatre (20%), while 15% say the same of the Soviet Union.

The other nations in our poll are most likely to believe that the Americans had the most influential role in ending the war in Europe – especially the Americans.

In the US, three in five say their country did more than Britain or the USSR to defeat the Nazis (59%). Some 13% say the Soviet Union (which, at an estimated 27,000,000 casualties, saw the largest loss of life during the conflict) did the most, while just 6% say the UK made the key contribution.

Among the German public, opinion is more divided. A third claim the Americans did more than the other Allies to defeat Nazism (34%), although nearly as many say the USSR did the most (31%). Only 6% say the UK’s role in bringing the conflict to its conclusion was larger than that of the US or the Russians.

Finally, 47% of the French public think the US was the crucial player on the Allied side, compared to 17% for the Soviet Union. This is in stark contrast to how the country felt shortly after the victory in Europe: an IFOP poll from May 1945 found that 57% believed the Russians played the most important part, next to 20% for the US.

One thing that hasn’t changed too much over the past eight decades is France’s opinion of Britain’s contribution to the war effort. In 1945, 12% thought the UK played the largest role; 79 years later, 10% still say the same.

See the full results here

What do you think about the UK's contribution in the Second World War, the D-Day anniversary, and everything else? Have your say, join the YouGov panel, and get paid to share your thoughts. Sign up here.

Photo: Getty

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