Survey shows why it is important to REMEMBER and Educate

Survey shows why it is important to REMEMBER and Educate

At the start of 2015 PMI commissioned a survey from Populus. This was done to coincide with the 70th Anniversary of the “liberation” of the German Nazi camp Auschwitz by the Soviets. Time and resources were short so only 2 questions were asked in the survey of nearly 2100 adults in the UK. It was a representative sample covering both sexes, all age groups and other criteria.

Question 1: Which, if any, of the following countries created the Auschwitz concentration/death camp?

Question 2: Which, if any, governments of the following countries did NOT collaborate at all with the Nazis during World War Two?

The choice of answers was the same for both questions:

Great Britain / USSR – Union of Soviet Socialist Republics / Poland / France / Czechoslovakia / Hungary / Austria / Germany. (None of the above / Can’t recall having heard of the Nazis before / Don’t know).

The order of presentation of the countries was randomised for the participants/respondents.

The results surprised us.

* below 0.5 %. NOTE: Totals will NOT add up to 100% since people could select more than one answer. Percentage shows how many people selected the option as one of their answers.

For question 1, a remarkable 10% [wrongly] believed that Poland created the German Nazi camp Auschwitz. The number of wrong attributions regarding Poland for Q1 almost doubled to 19% for the 18-24 age group and to 18% for Scotland across all age groups.  Possible a cumulative effect of the “Polish death camp” and “concentration camp in Poland” mistakes. Only one country – Germany – was responsible for Auschwitz. The first inmates in the camp were Poles. Auschwitz was constructed by Germany (& not the “Nazis”) after the German invasion and brutal German occupation of Poland. During the camp’s existence it was also in Germany since the area had been annexed into the Third Reich to provide “Lebensraum” for the German people. People visit a museum and memorial in Poland which is the site of the FORMER German Nazi camp that existed in German-occupied Poland during the war. There are no “concentration camps in Poland”. There never have been. The distinctions are important to avoid distortions.

To say that the answers to question 2 came as a surprise would be an understatement. It is a remarkable indictment of education in the UK that 27% of these adults thought that Great Britain collaborated with the “Nazis”.

It becomes depressing when 66% of the sample [falsely] thought that Poland did. Poland – the country that fought the Nazis from the first day of the war to the last. The country that never surrendered to – or worked with – the German Nazi occupiers. Apart from GB and Poland other European countries, including those that were occupied, collaborated with the Nazis or were “neutral”. Germany also had battalions of Waffen SS from these OTHER countries. Instead, Poland, the country that suffered the biggest loss of population in the war (as a %age of population) and the greatest destruction is mistakenly viewed as an Axis collaborator of Nazi Germany.

In September 1939 Poland was invaded by Nazi Germany AND the Soviet Union. For nearly the first 2 years of WW2 the murderous totalitarian regimes of the German fascists and the Soviet Communists were Axis partners. See Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact. THEN, Germany turned on their former partner and the USSR changed sides and suffered a prolonged memory hole about those 2 years.

For Q2, 81% of the 18-24 age group incorrectly stated Poland. There were step by step reductions in errors through the age groups with the 65+ group demonstrating the best knowledge of the factual history for both questions. This generational ignorance will not be addressed by naïve soundbites about a recent joint declaration between Israel and Poland being a “powerful instrument” in the battle against inaccuracies and distortions. There have been no apologies or retractions for the tidal waves of negative rhetoric and almost hysterical reportage that resulted from the “anti-defamation” law. Facts did not matter and the damage cannot be undone. It seems likely that if the survey was now repeated and extended into other countries (where there would have been higher numbers of mistakes) then the situation and knowledge would have deteriorated due to the aftereffects of the “fake news”.

Journalists, editors and their readers wonder why Poles are sensitive to incorrect and offensive phrases such as “Polish death camp”. We react to gross distortions and ignorance.

“ARBEIT MACHT FREI” is written in German. The upside down B on the Auschwitz sign was a protest from the prisoners. We should REMEMBER and serve their memory by reacting to distortions. Let’s not be indifferent to media mistakes. Some guidance in this “REMEMBER. CORRECTING MEMORY ERRORS” video from Auschwitz Memorial.

Photo (above) is taken from the Auschwitz Memorial video.


One Reply to “Survey shows why it is important to REMEMBER and Educate”

  1. What this poll shows is how misinformed or uninformed most people are about the WWII, because of the focus on the Jewish Holocaust, especially a Zionist view of that holocaust. It is a flawed version of both, the WWII and of Jewish Holocaust. Very few responders were aware that Soviet Union was Hitler’s ally for the first 21 months of the war, and was the chief Hitler’s enabler to wage war.

    On the positive side, the poll also shows that the Holocaust crowd has not been able to completely brainwash the majority of people even those poorly informed.

%d bloggers like this: