A survey conducted by a veterans charity has found startling evidence that school children are increasingly ignorant of the history of the Second World War, with one in twenty believing Adolf Hitler to be a former national football team coach of Germany and one in six thinking that Auschwitz is a theme park.
The survey, conducted by Erskine, which takes care of around 1,350 war veterans, asked 2,000 children aged nine to 15 a number of questions about the Second World War and got some astonishing results.
One in six of respondents said they thought that Auschwitz is a theme park based on the Second World War. One in 20 said that the Holocaust was the celebration of the end of the war, whilst one in ten said they believed that the SS were Enid Blyton’s Secret Seven.
One in twelve thought The Blitz was a huge cleanup operation after the war, a quarter believed that D-Day stood for “Dooms Day” and thought that a nuclear bomb was dropped on Pearl Harbour.
Around 40 per cent of children did not know that Remembrance Day was 11 November, while 12 per cent thought the McDonalds logo was the symbol of Remembrance Day.
A quarter of respondents said they do not think of the sacrifices made by the soldiers who died in war, but 70 per cent said they wanted to learn more about the Second World War at school.
Major Jim Panton, Chief Executive of Erskine, said, “Some of the answers to this poll have shocked us and it has shown that Erskine, amongst others, has a part to play, not just in caring for veterans but in educating society as a whole. As we approach Remembrance Day it is hard to believe that forty per cent of our children do not know when it is. There are also some positives to come out of this survey with the level of interest from children wishing to learn more at school about the World Wars. School children are the future of the country and it is important that we help them to learn about our history.”
Erskine said that in response to the survey it would be working with education project Their Past Your Future (TPYF) to help educate young people about the Second World War, including talks from Second World War veterans keen to share their stories with the younger generation.
Andrew Salmond, TPYF Scotland Project Manager for Museums Galleries Scotland said: "This initiative offers a fantastic opportunity to inform young people about the experiences of war – both at home and abroad. Some, we know, will convey wartime loss and suffering, others will speak of daring and inspiration. However, all will be of great educational value, offering an insight to what previous generations have endured in times of conflict."
The Real Facts