The idea of conducting a republican survey belongs to Professor Ivan Kotlyar, Chairman of the Board of the Belarusian Section of the ISHR. The survey was conducted by the Scientific and Advisory Council of the ISHR (Belarus) from March to April 2020.
Information on the results of the republican youth survey on the topic
“On the outcomes of World War II”
The geography of carrying out was as follows: in the east, Mogilev State University of Food Technologies (MSUFT), in the center: Belarusian State University (BSU) and Institute of Entrepreneurship and Parliamentarism (Minsk), in the west, Grodno State Agrarian University (GSAU), in Brest: Brest State Technical University (BSTU), Brest College of Communications, Lyceum No. 1 of Brest named after A.S. Pushkin.
The form of carrying out was answers to open, semi-closed, and closed questions of the questionnaire approved by the Scientific and Expert Council of the ISHR (Belarus).
Teachers of educational institutions, students at BSTU, Fedor Leonov, Pro-Rector for Educational Work, at GSAU, Yury Bubnau, Doctor of Sociology, Professor, Head of the Department of Humanities, at MSUFT were responsible for the organization of polling on the ground. The project coordinator was Andrey Dylyuk, teacher of history and introduction to law at Brest College of Communications, the head of the youth group of the ISHR (Belarus). All the persons in charge are members of the ISHR (Belarus).
The results of the survey. Participants (students and pupils of educational institutions) were asked to answer the following questions:
- Who is to blame for the outbreak of World War II?
- Who contributed to the aggressiveness of Nazi Germany?
- What do you know about the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact?
- What, in your opinion, is the contribution of the USSR to the victory in World War II?
- In Poland, Ukraine, the current authorities deny the decisive contribution of the USSR to the victory of the anti-Hitler coalition in World War II. What is your assessment?
- Remember the names of the heroes of victory in World War II known to you:
- How do you assess the role of the media in covering the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II, the victory in the Great Patriotic War?
Responses were provided by 556 respondents. The students of MSUFT (243) and GSAU (128) were especially active.
On the question “Who is to blame for the outbreak of World War II?”, every other person pointed to Germany, Adolf Hitler. It is worth noting that the percentage of such answers reached 72.7% at GSAU and even 89.3% at MSUFT. Italy (9.5% of respondents), Japan (8.6%) were also mentioned among the perpetrators of the war. 34 respondents blamed the USSR, 13 held accountable Joseph Stalin.
First of all, Great Britain was found among the answers to the second question “Who contributed to the aggressiveness of Nazi Germany?”, the United Kingdom was noted by almost every third person. France (more than 30%), Poland (12.4%), and the USSR (11.5%) were mentioned too. Every fourth interviewee refrained from answering.
The survey revealed the following assessments of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact of 1939: 58.6% of respondents answered “It helped delay the start of a war between the USSR and Germany,” one in six pollees noted that the pact contributed to the invasion of Nazi Germany in Europe. Many admitted that they know almost nothing about the document and its consequence. There were other questionnaire answers as well.
The answer to the question “What, in your opinion, is the contribution of the USSR to the victory in World War II?” proposed a choice between the answer options “decisive,” “insignificant,” “I don’t know, because I don’t possess information,” and to write down their own variant. The answers revealed the practical unanimity of the respondents, despite the fact that they study at various educational institutions in different parts of the republic. 485 (87.2% of the total number of respondents) people noted that the USSR made a decisive contribution to the victory over Fascism, and the percentage of such answers to this question at GSAU reached 93.7%. Most of those who replied “I don’t know, because I don’t possess information” were from MSUFT.
The questionnaire invited to assess the current authorities in Poland, Ukraine, which deny the decisive contribution of the USSR to the victory of the anti-Hitler coalition in World War II. Professor of Political Science Ivan Kotlyar thought that this would not cause the necessary interest, nevertheless, the majority of respondents coped with the answer to this question. 57.4% noted that they are biased (at GSAU – 75.0%, at Brest College of Communications – 92%, at Lyceum No. 1 of Brest named after A.S. Pushkin – 73.7%). Every sixth answerer could not give an answer to the question posed since they don’t possess information. The surveyed students of BSTU in a share of 51.2% indicated the objectivity of the evaluations of the Establishments of Poland and Ukraine in denying the fundamental contribution of the USSR to the victory over Fascism.
The proposal to recall the names of famous heroes of the victory was supported by the bulk of the interviewees. From the heroes of the USSR, Marshal Georgi Zhukov, Alexander Matrosov, soldier who covered the embrasure of the fascist bunker with his body, Aleksey Maresyev, fighter pilot, who was seriously injured in battles during the war, what led to the amputation of his legs, but who returned on the battlefields to make 86 sorties and shut down 10 aircraft in total, Nikolai Gastello, military pilot who made a fire ram in his damaged plane into a mechanized convoy of fascists; from the heroes of the BSSR, Pyotr Masherov, one of the organizers and leaders of the partisan movement in Belarus, others; from the USA, George S. Patton, one of the main generals of the American headquarters operated during World War II; from other allied countries, Charles de Gaulle, leader of the French resistance movement, were named the most.
The request to evaluate the role of the media in covering the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II and the victory in the Great Patriotic War aroused interest. Almost every second respondent considered the level of coverage to be sufficient, and the assessments to be objective (at GSAU – 57%). One in four repliers defined the level of coverage as sufficient, but the assessments as biased, and among the students of BSTU who participated in the survey, there were 44.2% of them. The answer “The level of coverage of events is insufficient, but the estimates are objective” was chosen by only one in six respondents, and only one in ten pollees concluded that the level of coverage of events is insufficient and the evaluations are biased, moreover, the pupils of Lyceum No. 1 of Brest named after A.S. Pushkin answered like that at 12.3%, while as much as 26.0% of the asked Brest College of Communications undergraduates echoed them.
On the assessment given at the meeting of the board of the ISHR (Belarus) on April 26, 2020, the results of the survey, which are based on the results of their discussion, are positive; the general public will be familiarized with them. The results of the questionnaire can be used by organizing events of the ISHR (Belarus) dedicated to the 75th anniversary of the victory, as well as during the implementation of the thematic project of the ISHR for the Eastern Partnership countries and Russia “Tell me about the war.”
Head of the youth group of the ISHR (Belarus) Andrey Dylyuk
Member of the board,
Head of the press center of the ISHR (Belarus) Pavel Pernikau