Pollsters asked French citizens who contributed the most to the defeat of the Nazis in World War II. The poll was conducted in 1945, then repeated in 1994 and 2004. As you can see in a graphic from Olivier Berruyer, the results changed over time. Of course, most of the people polled in 1994 and 2004 were not around during the war, and what they know was learned in classrooms and movie theaters. The movies aren’t necessarily wrong, but the Hollywood film industry tells stories they know, that are available in a language the industry speaks.
In another graph at the same post, Berruyer shows us that 11 million soldiers of the Soviet Union died in the war, and as least as many civilians, making the USSR the country with the highest casualties of all. China was second, as Chinese civilians bore the brunt of Japanese atrocities. The United States lost 184,000 soldiers in the European theater, and 407,000 when you include the Pacific theater.
The effectiveness of the USSR in defeating the Nazis is colored by the utter brutality of the Stalinist regime, and clouded by the secrecy of Soviet isolation over the ensuing 50 years. However, the sheer numbers have a tale to tell, and we haven’t been telling it as well as we could. The post at Les-Crises has more graphics on World War II, which are all in French but pretty easy to understand. -via reddit
(Image credit: Olivier Berruyer)