18% think 1914 was about Nazis

This Is Lancashire: British soldiers negotiating a shell-cratered landscape in 1916 British soldiers negotiating a shell-cratered landscape in 1916

Nearly one in five Britons thinks the country became involved in the First World War to stop the rise of Nazi Germany, according to a survey.

Eighteen per cent of those polled mistakenly believed the UK entered into the conflict in 1914 to halt the group which was led by Adolf Hitler in the Second World War.

The research also found that 17% thought the dictator was the leader of Germany at the time of the First World War.

However, the survey of 2,493 adults commissioned by The Times WWI Centenary Facsimile also found a majority of those questioned were clued up on several key facts.

Nearly seven in ten people (69%) knew that Franz Ferdinand was the Archduke of Austria-Hungary. His assassination is widely seen as having set in motion the chain of events that led to the war.

More than half (57%) knew that Britain became involved in the First World War because of a treaty with Belgium to defend it in the event of an invasion.

Knowledge of the country's leadership was sketchy, with one in ten believing Winston Churchill was Prime Minister at the start of the conflict.

Only 36% correctly answered that the prime minister was Herbert Henry Asquith, while 34% guessed it was David Lloyd George, whose premiership started during the war.

Areas in which respondents were most knowledgeable were when the First World War took place (90%), what the term The Allies refers to (92%), and the fact that British and German soldiers once marked Christmas Day by playing a game of football (85%).

However, 1% of those polled believed the troops gave each other tours of their trenches, while eight people surveyed believed they gathered to watch a screening of the Great Escape.

People in the East Midlands are the most knowledgeable about the war, according to the research, getting an overall 70% of correct answers. Londoners were found to know the least, with only 63% of right responses.

Those from Scotland (68%) were slightly more successful than respondents from England (66%) and Wales (64%).

People aged 55 and over were the most knowledgeable, with 72% of correct answers, while more men than women answered correctly to each of the nine factual questions they were asked

The research also found that only one in 10 people believed the First World War is the most important British history subject for children to learn about at school, ranking behind topics such as the Second World War, the history of the monarchy and the Magna Carta.

The Times WWI Centenary Facsimile research also revealed a gender divide in First World War knowledge, as more men than women knew the correct answer for each of the nine factual questions they were asked (72% of correct answers compared to 60%).

Rose Wild, archive editor of The Times, said: "These results demonstrate that although many people are aware of some basic facts about WWI, there is much more to be learnt."

Comments (1)

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5:29am Fri 27 Jun 14

Rita Jelfs says...

Interesting results. Perhaps its time current UK generations were educated more on modern European history, and why the German people saw Hitler as their 'messiah', whether Stanley Milgram's experiments offer current generations insight into authoritarian behaviour, and whether or where an an authoritarian government could ever be elected in the UK. Very current.
Interesting results. Perhaps its time current UK generations were educated more on modern European history, and why the German people saw Hitler as their 'messiah', whether Stanley Milgram's experiments offer current generations insight into authoritarian behaviour, and whether or where an an authoritarian government could ever be elected in the UK. Very current. Rita Jelfs
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