75 years later, honouring World War II still matters – Ipsos survey

The conflict is still a significant part of national identities worldwide

Ahead of the 75th anniversary of the Allied Forces’ victory over Nazi Germany today, an Ipsos survey finds that 55% of men and women across 28 countries agree on the importance of holding ceremonies in remembrance of World War II. In Australia, the figure is much higher at 77%, placing us behind only Great Britain (80%) and Russia (81%).

Interestingly, we drop down the list a little when it comes to pride in our country’s role, with 68% of Australians surveyed agreeing they are proud of our role during WW2. Interestingly, Russia (83%), Great Britain (80%), Ukraine (78%), the United States (73%), China (73%), and Poland (72%) were the countries whose citizens tend to be most proud of their nation’s role in the conflict.

Australia is also one of the countries with the highest proportion of people having a familial link to the conflict at 56%, behind only Russia (86%), Ukraine (83%), Great Britain (73%), Germany (61%), and the United States (57%),The average across all countries surveyed was 40%.

We are, however, around the global average (21%) for having a relative or ancestor who died fighting in WW2 (19%) and considerably lower than the average for having a a relative or ancestor who died because of deliberate genocide, massacres, mass-bombings, disease, or starvation during that war.

World War II’s influence is still felt strongly. Globally, and in Australia, four in 10 agree that political life in their country is still influenced by the events and the outcomes of the conflict. Among all the countries surveyed, this view is most widely held in Poland, China, Germany, Russia and Great Britain.

The survey, titled 75th Anniversary of the End of World War II: A Global View, was conducted among 20,005 adults under the age of 75 across 28 countries on the Ipsos Global Advisor online platform between March 20 and April 3, 2020.

Detailed Findings

  • Holding ceremonies in remembrance of World War II is deemed important by a majority in 16 of the 28 countries and by 55% globally.
    • Among the countries surveyed, those where holding ceremonies in remembrance of World War II is most widely considered to be important are: Russia, Great Britain, Australia, the Netherlands, Canada, the United States, Ukraine, Poland, China, France and Belgium, all with at least two out of three adults saying it is very or somewhat important.
    • At the opposite end of the spectrum, fewer than one in five in Japan and Saudi Arabia have this opinion.
    • While those aged 50-74 are most likely to agree (61%), majorities of those under the age of 35 (52%) and those aged 35-49 (also 52%) agree.
  • The majority of people in 12 countries report they are proud of their nation’s role in World War II. Pride is most prevalent in Russia, Great Britain, Ukraine, the United States, China, Poland, Canada and Australia with at least two in three of their citizens surveyed agreeing they are proud it.
    • Countries where pride is rarest: Germany, Japan, Spain and Chile, with fewer than one in six expressing any pride.
    • The belief that it is important to commemorate World War II is not necessarily tied with pride in the role one’s own country had in it, especially in Europe. While the countries where ceremonies are widely viewed as important include all countries where citizens are proudest of their country’s role, it also includes several European nations whose citizens are divided on their country’s role: the Netherlands, France, Belgium, Sweden and Italy.
  • The events and outcomes of World War II are most perceived to still have an influence on political life in Poland, China, Germany, Russia, Great Britain, Ukraine, and Hungary, with at least half of their citizens surveyed agreeing it is still the case.
    • In contrast, fewer than one in four in Saudi Arabia, Mexico, Argentina and Chile agree. On average, across all 28 countries surveyed, 42% agree.
    • There is little disagreement across different age groups on this measure: those under the age of 35 (40%) and those aged 35-49 (also 40%) are not much less likely to agree than those aged 50-74 (45%).
  • Globally, 40% say that some of their relatives or ancestors served in the armed forces during World War II; 21% say some of them died fighting; and 15% say some died due to deliberate genocide, massacres, mass-bombings, disease, or starvation.
    • Service in the armed forces by relatives or ancestors during World War II is most widely reported in Russia (86%), Ukraine (83%), Great Britain (73%), Germany (61%), the United States (57%), and Australia (56%).
    • The countries whose citizens are most likely to report having a relative or an ancestor who died fighting in World War II are: Russia (59%), Ukraine (55%), Germany (44%), and Poland (32%).
    • Ukraine (37%), Russia (28%), Germany (26%), Poland (25%), India (20%), and Hungary (20%) are the countries where it is most common to have relatives or ancestors who died due to deliberate genocide, massacres, mass-bombings, disease, or starvation.
    • Globally, those aged 50-74 are significantly more likely to report having relatives or ancestors who served in the armed forces during World War II (48% vs. 33% of those under 35 and 37% of those aged 35-49); and slightly more likely to say some of them died fighting (24% vs. 19% of those under 35 and 20% of those aged 35-49). They are no more likely to say some died because of deliberate genocide, massacres, mass-bombings, disease, or starvation (14% vs.16% of those under 35 and 14% those aged 35-49).

About the Study

These are findings from a Global Advisor survey conducted by Ipsos among 20,005 adults aged 18-74 in the United States, Canada, Malaysia, South Africa, and Turkey and 16-74 in 23 other markets, March 20 – April 3, 2020. It was carried out via the Ipsos Online Panel System in 28 markets.

Approximately 1000+ individuals were surveyed in Australia, Brazil, Canada, China (mainland), France, Germany, Great Britain, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Spain, Sweden, and the U.S. Approximately 500+ individuals were surveyed in Argentina, Belgium, Chile, Hungary, India, Malaysia, the Netherlands, Peru, Poland, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Turkey, and Ukraine.

The samples in Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Great Britain, Hungary, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Poland, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, and the U.S. can be taken as representative of these countries’ general adult population under the age of 75.

The samples in Brazil, Chile, China (mainland), India, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Turkey, and Ukraine are more urban, more educated, and/or more affluent than the general population. The survey results for these markets should be viewed as reflecting the views of the more “connected” segment of these populations.

The data is weighted so that each market’s sample composition best reflects the demographic profile of the adult population according to the most recent census data.

Where results do not sum to 100 or the ‘difference’ appears to be +/-1 more/less than the actual, this may be due to rounding, multiple responses or the exclusion of don't knows or not stated responses.

The precision of Ipsos online polls are calculated using a credibility interval with a poll of 1,000 accurate to +/- 3.5 percentage points and of 500 accurate to +/- 4.8 percentage points.

Society