Between 1939 and 1945 happened one of the most important historical events of modern times, facts that should never be forgotten because of their importance and to avoid repeating the same mistakes that were made then. We are talking about World War II, an international war that claimed millions of lives and in which horrors such as the Holocaust and major war crimes were experienced.
The scale of the conflict, which would begin with the invasion of Poland by Hitler and the Nazis and end with the surrender of Japanese forces after the destruction caused by the nuclear bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, would lead to facing a large number of lives and would have significant repercussions both in Europe and in the rest of the world.
This is what we are going to talk about in this article: the consequences of WWII.
World War II: a brief historical overview
World War II was a violent conflict in which more than a hundred countries around the world were involved and which caused millions of deaths which began when Germany, in which shortly before Hitler and the Nazis had seized power, invaded Poland by the Poles). Soon after, the UK and France declared war on the brothers, with countries like Canada, New Zealand and Australia joining them.
Although probably the best-known fascist force of this war was Hitler’s Nazi GermanyThere were also other forces and countries that allied with him to form the Tripartite Pact or Axis Pact in 1940.
In addition to Nazi Germany on the fascist front, it was formed by Italy led by Mussolini (who would initially play in much of the conflict but would later act only in conjunction with the brothers), and the Empire of Japan commanded by the emperor (the participation is well known and would eventually lead to the entry of the United States into the struggle after the attack on Pearl Harbor).
These three countries would ally in the Tripartite Pact or the Axis PactBut many other states would also collaborate with it: Hungary, Yugoslavia, Romania, Bulgaria and the Slovak Republic would eventually join as well.
In the case of Spain, although Franco was an ally of Nazism and was also involved during the struggle through the Blue Division, his role was much smaller due to not wanting to get involved in another war. after the Spanish Civil War immediately before the conflict.
As for Russia, it initially declared itself neutral and signed a non-aggression agreement with the Nazis, but would join the Allies when in 1941 Hitler violated the agreement and began to invade Soviet territory. As for the United States, although it supplied the British, it would initially remain neutral, but from the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor Roosevelt decided to declare war on Japan, Germany and Italy.
These two important annexations to the Allied forces would ultimately be the ones which would succeed, not without great efforts and with the loss of millions of lives, in changing the course of the war until the retirement and the first surrender of the United States were obtained. Italy (in 1943) then Germany in 1945 (Hitler’s suicide shortly before this surrender). Finally and before the bombing of the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan would surrender the same year.
The main consequences of World War II
The consequences of World War II they were multiple and in various fields. For example, they ended up creating institutions designed to prevent new crimes against humanity from arising and surviving today. The main consequences are as follows.
1. Human losses
The most important and most serious consequence of the conflict has been the large number of human victims, quantify at least 50 million deaths but can easily reach 60. A large majority of these victims were civilians, and their deaths were not only due to the direct action of the armies (crossfire, bombardments, genocide or persecution) but also derived from hunger, the loss of homes and the poverty that followed the war.
But beyond the losses generated by the war, in this war too it is necessary to emphasize the persecution and systematic elimination of large population groups through concentration camps and other forms of Nazi extermination. Its main target in this regard was the Jewish people, estimated at around six million citizens killed for belonging to this group.
Other victims of persecution and murder were homosexuals, gypsies and communists, As well as artists, intellectuals and all those whom the government saw as a threat to society, including men, women and children of all ages. People with disabilities and people with mental disorders have also been targeted for elimination.
Other horrors such as medical experimentation with humans and vivisections were also committed in the territory occupied by the Nazis, as well as a great multitude of attacks on civilians on both sides.
2. Creation of the UN and the Declaration of Human Rights
After the end of the war and in anticipation that other similar events might occur, an international conference would be formed in which about 50 countries would participate and which would eventually generate the current United Nations, replacing the failed society of Nations established after the first. World War.
The UN would therefore emerge with the aim of maintaining international peace., To provoke positive and friendly relations between countries, to promote international cooperation and to stimulate the efforts of different nations to achieve these objectives.
In December 1948, they will publish the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Which stipulates about thirty articles which establish the fundamental rights of all human beings, which must be respected at the international level.
3. The search for responsibility: the Nuremberg trials
During the war and after the surrender of the Axis countries, many officers and high command were captured by the Allies. Once the fight is over, the level of responsibility of the Nazi leadership would be decided in the so-called Nuremberg Trials.
Although there were doubts as to whether the trial was well planned or not and whether the tribunal enjoyed sufficient validity because it was not impartial, the trial was conducted and would eventually acquit some defendants, in send some to jail with different sentences. sentence numerous Nazi leaders to death for war crimes and crimes against humanity.
Despite this, many Nazis fled to other countries, Not knowing where or the final destination of many of them (in fact, even today some cases are discovered in time). Groups have also sprung up to hunt them down, in retaliation for the deaths of loved ones.
4. Economic impact and reconstruction
World War II was a very bitter conflict with a great impact on the entire fabric of society, including economic and even urban areas. And it is that during the war many cities have been practically wiped off the map, Losing for example Warsaw around 80% of its buildings and having to be rebuilt.
In addition to that, communications and European industry (except for armaments, which had a great development) had fallen, which would cause great poverty. Goods and services have all but disappeared.
Agriculture also suffered: many crops were lost and in some areas the fields were even full of mines. This caused famine and caused an even higher number of deaths.
Fortunately, the United States would approve of the so-called Marshall Plan, which helped lighten the state of post-war Europe and regenerate its economy.
5. Creation of the two big blocs: USA vs USSR
Despite the large number of lives lost, countries like the United States have succeeded in making the end of the war favorable to them, succeed in becoming the greatest power in the world. Like that itself, the Soviet Union managed to annex a large number of territories, although its economy would never be as good as that of the United States.
Being the European powers practically destroyed, they would end up constituting two large blocks of countries or annexed or allies which would generate two ideological blocks clearly differentiated and with time confronted, represented by the two superpowers which would be: the capitalist bloc led by the United States and the communist USSR. Most of the former would consist of most of the countries of Western Europe, while the latter would occupy most of Eastern Europe.
6. The rise of the military industry and the atomic bomb
The war brought with it the need to devote most of its resources to military industry, which became the main and most important type of industry during this time and immediately after the war. In fact, the arms race would continue between the two great superpowers, In the well known as the Cold War.
Another major milestone in the advancement of this industry was the creation of the atomic bomb in the United States, which would ultimately lead to the surrender of Japan and later succeed in building the Soviet Union. This was one of the consequences of World War II with the greatest impact on geopolitics.
7. Invention of the first computer
Another indirect consequence of World War II is that during this period the Turing machine would be invented in order to be able to decode the codes used by the Nazis in their telecommunications, being the beginning of computing and serving as a starting point for the creation of computers and informatics.
8. Border changes and creation of the State of Israel
The end of the war led to a restructuring of the borders of many countries, as well as the creation of a few new ones. for example Germany would be divided into four blocks corresponding to Russia, USA, France and UK. Russia annexed Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, alongside parts of Germany and Poland.
Austria and Czechoslovakia became independent again, as did Albania. China would recover from Japan all of its territories occupied during the war. Italy would lose all of its colonies. The United States would keep part of Germany, many islands in the Pacific. Korea would be divided into north and south, the first being Soviet and the second American.
In addition to these and other changes, probably the most relevant and best known is the creation of the State of Israel, granting the Jewish people part of the territory hitherto belonging to Palestine and including the city of Jerusalem. . there have been major conflicts between Israel and Palestine since then.
9. Cultural changes
Culture was also severely punished during the conflict: damaged infrastructure, stolen art, destroyed educational establishments … During the first post-war years, illiteracy greatly increased in Europe, although gradually in the decades. at university would be facilitated.
The United States was one of the exceptions, developing among other things the film industry and start to monopolize global fashion and culture. Stages such as Expressionism emerged in painting, as did works that spoke of the harshness of war, such as Picasso’s Guernica.
10. The role of women and minorities
Gradually, until now, invisible groups such as women or ethnic minorities would become more relevant.
In the case of women, recruiting men for war means that, as in World War I, it is women who have to perform tasks hitherto considered masculine, which will gradually make them more valuable and more meaningful. valid. that feminist movements were gaining more and more power, To the point of obtaining women’s suffrage in more and more territories. In the case of ethnic minorities, the process has been slower.
- Historia.com classes (sf). The Second World War. Digital Journal of History and Social Sciences. [Online]. Available at: http://www.claseshistoria.com/2guerramundial/consecuencias-demograficas.html.
- Sommerville, Donald (2008). Lorenz’s books, ed. The Complete Enlightened History of WWII: An authoritative account of the deadliest conflict in human history with analysis of landmark encounters and iconic engagements. p. 5.
- Yépez, A. (2011). Universal history. Caracas: Larense.