WWII

Brits, Americans and Russians All Believe They 'Won' WWII, Research Finds

A new survey suggests Britons, Americans and Russians suffer from 'national narcissism' when crediting the victory.

An Army instructor teaching men of the RAF Aerodrome Defence Corps at Whitley Bay in 1942 (Picture: MOD).

New research points toward a 'national narcissism', as citizens of the Second World War's former Allied countries each believe they were responsible for ending it.

A study in the journal, 'Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America' (PNAS) collected responses from eight former Allied countries, and three who fought against them, Germany, Italy and Japan.

A total of 1,338 adults (18 years old and above) responded; those in the UK felt 51% responsible for the victory, the US even higher at 54%. Russians believed they deserve 75% of the proportional credit.

These numbers fall drastically when subjects were asked to grade the contribution of other countries.

America is given 27% of the credit by these nations, whilst the UK falls to 19% and Russia hits 20%, a 55% fall from its own perception.

Experts identified a "national narcissism" in findings and said that comparatively high levels of self-belief could be down to the different ways we are taught history.

Soviet and American troops met at the Elbe River on 25 April 1945, an important day for the end of the Second World War (Picture: US National Archives and Records Administration).

Russia may be able to make a case for a large role in the war, suffering 9,750,000 total military deaths, compared to the UK's 383,600 and 416,800 for the US.

The study explains: "'If deaths in the war are considered a proxy of a nation's contributions, the Soviet Union did carry much of the burden."

The lead author of the research, Professor Henry Roediger III, is a psychologist at the University of Washington, St. Louis, which questioned participants from each country.

He said: "People in the other 10 countries seemed to minimise Soviet contributions relative to American contributions."

Researchers noted that America's broad influence on screens and in literature places less emphasis on the Eastern front in Europe than on the Western front and the war in the Pacific.

Professor Roediger stands by the use of the term 'national narcissism', saying that it is "warranted" in the case of nations overestimating wartime contributions: 

"Narcissism carries both the positive aspects of glorifying one's self or one's group and also the dark overtones of one's group or nation imposing its values and traditions on others, often through conquest and force."

A previous study showed a similar "over-claiming" existed when countries were asked about their contribution to world history, Russia again topping the self-report table with 61%, followed by the UK with 55%.