World War II: The Aftermath

Though the fighting had finally finished, the consequences of the Second World War were felt for decades after it ended. A power shift from Europe to the United States was only one result. The Cold War between communist Soviet forces and capitalist countries was another, due to tensions that surfaced during the war. The death and destruction caused by this war were also unprecedented, especially in terms of the Holocaust. However, the war also had some positive effects, including the creation of the United Nations and the addition of women to the workforce. In Part 9 of our series on WWII, WatchMojo.com takes a look at the aftermath of World War II.
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History of World War II: The Aftermath


This war left many countries devastated and influenced generations of life. Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we will take a look at the aftermath of World War II.

Ongoing Tensions Between Axis and Allied Countries


The atomic bombing of Japan brutally forced that country’s surrender, and brought the Second World War to an end. However, the end of battle left much of Europe in ruins, both physically and economically. Plus, tensions remained between the Axis and Allied countries for years due to divergent belief systems.

The Holocaust


In terms of lives lost, the Second World War was the deadliest war in history. Between 50 and 70 million people were killed, and a large portion of these were civilians. The Holocaust saw an estimated six million European Jews perish at the hands of the Nazis, and this comprised over one third of the world’s Jewish population at that time. Many other marginalized groups were also targeted by the Nazis, including Poles, homosexuals and disabled peoples.

Changing Borders


Many of those who did survive were left without homes. Also, new borders were drawn throughout Europe and Asia that created a new geopolitical landscape. Europe’s overall weakness led to decolonization, and countries like India and Pakistan gained independence from the British Empire. World power shifted from Europe at this point, as well, and to the United States and Soviet Union.

Impact on the Soviets


In fact, the aftermath of war greatly affected the Soviet Union. It is approximated that over 25 million Soviets died in the battle, and only half of these were military deaths. It eventually took 30 years for the population to return to pre-war numbers.

Iron Curtain and the Cod War


Tensions between the Soviets and the Western Allies surfaced, despite the fact they had fought together. Even before fighting ended, the suggestion was made that war between the United States and the Soviet Union was unavoidable and that capitalist and communist systems could not co-exist. This led to the symbolic Iron Curtain between Eastern and Western Europe. In 1946, the Cold War between Communist Soviet forces and the Western world began, and was only resolved in 1989.

Germany and Japan


Meanwhile, Germany was forced to pay reparations and to cede territorial gains the country had made during the war. The Germans were also left to rebuild their nation without aid. Things were similarly bleak in Japan, though the Japanese were also struggling with the consequences of the nuclear bombings.

The Nuremberg Trials


Remaining Nazi leaders were prosecuted by the International Military Tribunal or IMT a few months after fighting ceased in the Nuremberg Trials. Prior to this, the act of waging war had not been punishable by law; however the brutality and extremity of the Nazis’ actions convinced the Allies to indict those responsible. The trials lasted from November 20th, 1945 to October 1st, 1946, and resulted in death sentences for many of the Nazi elite. Despite criticism of these trials, the IMT itself helped lead to the establishment of the International Criminal Court.

The United Nations


One relatively positive outcome of the Second World War was the establishment of the United Nations on October 24th, 1945 in order to maintain peace, enforce international laws and protect human rights. In addition, a number of laws were established in the years after World War II that were direct results of the Nazi threat, including rulings against genocide and in favor of human rights.

Women in the Workforce


In terms of the workforce, the presence of women was another effect directly attributed to World War II.

Attitudes Towards Racism


Public attitudes also changed, especially towards overt racism. Though it did not completely disappear, tolerance slowly became more widespread.

A Changed World


Due to these many consequences, World War II proved to be the most transformative war in history.
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