Children vote Germany as `most boring'

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The Independent Online
British children are strongly anti-German, associating Germany with the Second World War and voting it less attractive to visit than Bosnia, according to a survey published today.

Despite the fact that the war ended 35 years before even the oldest of the 10- to 16-year-olds interviewed were born, suspicion of Germany and its people were still widespread in the survey conducted in March.

When 800 schoolchildren around Britain were asked about their attitudes towards Europe, 78 per cent associated Germany with the Second World War and half of those mentioned Hitler.

More positive associations such as good beer and economic success paled into insignificance.

When children were asked which country they would least like to visit Germany came first with 43 per cent, compared with 26 per cent for Bosnia, still suffering from the effects of the wars which tore Yugoslavia apart, and France with 20 per cent.

They also voted Germany the most boring country in Europe by a huge margin. A total of 57 per cent plumped for Germany, compared with 26 per cent for France, 10 per cent for Italy and 7 per cent for other countries.

In the survey, commissioned by Gestetner, which makes fax machines, laser printers and photocopiers, the negative view of Germany was so overwhelming that almost one-third of children named it as Europe's poorest nation, ignoring the economic evidence to the contrary.

While 28 per cent thought that the Germans were Europe's paupers, only 21 per cent said the Bosnians, the same number for the Spaniards, 16 per cent for the British and 14 per cent for other nations.

There is little comfort for Europhiles in the survey. While 94 per cent of children believed that the European Union would work better if its constituent nations communicated with one another more, most want it on British terms.

While half said that there should be a single European language, 87 per cent of those thought that it should be English with the only other contenders being French with 6 per cent support and Esperanto with 5 per cent.

Two-thirds of youngsters favoured a single currency but 60 per cent of those said it should be sterling.

A European superstate was unpopular with 79 per cent against but there was widespread ignorance about which countries were in the EU. While most realised that Britain and Belgium are members, 41 per cent thought Australia had joined and 37 per cent believed that the United States had. Children's images of all nations were based on cultural cliches. France was associated with snails and frogs' legs - and Euro Disney. England with the Queen, Scotland with kilts and Wales with dragons.

Although 76 per cent thought of war when asked about Bosnia, and 55 per cent mentioned the IRA in relation to Northern Ireland, the strongest image was that of Belgium which 92 per cent associated with chocolates.

Whene asked where they got most of their information about Europe from, almost half he children - 48 per cent - said television, while less than one-third (30 per cent) said school, 8 per cent said newspapers and just 5 per cent said their parents.