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First World War knowledge 'limited'

Fewer than half of people in the UK realise the First World War extended beyond Europe, a new report has shown.

According to the report, produced from research by the British Council, most people's knowledge of the Great War - which began 100 years ago - is limited to fighting on the Western Front.

T he document - Remember The World As Well As The War - reveals a lack of understanding of the global scale and impact of the war, and calls on the UK and the rest of the world to use forthcoming centenary commemorations to help people gain a better understanding of the global nature of the conflict.

The report was produced from research carried out for the British Council by YouGov, which surveyed between 1,000 and 1,200 people online in the UK, as well as in Egypt, France, Germany, India, Russia, and Turkey.

It found that in the UK, fewer than half of the 1,081 people questioned were aware that North America and the Middle East played a part in the First World War (38% and 34% respectively), while less than a quarter realised that Africa and Asia were involved (21% and 22%).

The research also found a widespread la ck of understanding about the impact of the war - w hile 62% of people in the UK were aware of its connection to the rise of the Nazis in Germany, far fewer (37%) were aware of the link with the rise of Communism in Russia.

Less than a third of UK respondents associated the war with the fall of the Ottoman Empire (32%) or the creation of the United Nations (27%), and just 11% were aware of its connection with the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinians.

Across the seven countries, almost three-quarters of people surveyed (72%) believed that their country was still affected by the consequences of the war, the research found.

And the conflict still influences overseas views of the UK, with 45% of people questioned in India and 28% in France and Russia saying the UK's role in the war had a positive effect on how they view it today.

But in contrast, 34% in Turkey and 22% in Egypt said it had a negative effect.

The report, published today, c alls on the UK and the rest of the world to use centenary commemorations to help people recognise the ongoing impact of the war on relationships between countries around the world.

John Worne, director of strategy at the British Council, said: "Our research shows that the things we in the UK know and remember the most from the First World War are the harrowing images and iconic stories from the Western Front - and rightly so.

"But we shouldn't forget that the war touched many other parts of the world. Far more countries fought and were affected than we generally think.

"Even a hundred years later a person from the UK travelling for business or pleasure will find the war still influences the way people overseas view the UK.

"So knowing a little about the global reach of the conflict and its lasting effects will help anyone better understand and navigate the many different reasons people from other countries see us as they do."

The research for the report was carried out for the British Council, which is working on a programme of activities throughout 2014 to increase awareness of the global scale and lasting legacy of the war.

There were a total of 7,488 responses - 1,052 in Egypt; 1,029 in France; 1,070 in Germany; 1,215 in India; 1,019 in Russia; 1,022 in Turkey and 1,081 in the UK.


From Belfast Telegraph