The Aftermath of World War II
World War II ended with the surrender of the Axis powers. A week after Adolf Hitler committed suicide, Germany surrendered, on May 7th to the Western Allies, and on May 8th to the Soviet Union in 1945. Japan was able to pull through for few months, but soon atomic bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki by the USA on August 6th and 9th respectively. This finally convinced the Japanese Government that they had no choice but to surrender. The Aftermath of World War II is often considered as a new era. During this period, international cooperation plans were aimed at rebuilding Europe and Japan. The United Nations was also inaugurated. These plans to promote international cooperation were being challenged due to hostilities from the Western Democracies and the Soviet Union. Soon, this developed into the Cold War. This conflict focused on spying and proxy wars between USA and the Soviet Union. The Cold War was based on the differences between the ideologies between the two powers, Communism for Soviets and Representative Democracy for Americans. The mutual distrust between the West and the new Eastern Bloc resulted in a military build-up which eventually resulted in the nuclear arms race.
Conditions During and Post-War:
I] Countries Directly Involved:
A) Britain -
1. Social Conditions -
The blackout began two days before the war began in Britain. Under blackout rules, everyone had to cover up their windows at night with black material. This was to make it difficult for German bombers to find their target in the dark.
During 1940, hardly any bombs were dropped on Britain. But Hitler planned to invade Britain. In September the Germans started bombing Britain's cities hoping they would panic and surrender. This period was known as The Blitz. The Germans showered Britain with bombs. As the war continued people became used to this carnage and adjusted their lives where possible.
75,000 women joined the Land Army in Britain to help grow more food. In 1941, women between the ages of 19-30 had to register for war work. Women were mostly secretaries, drivers, cooks and mechanics. Many joined the Women's Royal Voluntary Service. They provided meals and clothing for survivors and rescue workers.
All fit young men had to join the army, navy or air force. British men were sent to Africa, the Far East and Europe. Home Guard units, comprising of men who were not fit enough, had to protect Britain from German parachute attacks.
2. Political Conditions -
The Post-War Consensus is a name to an era in British political history which lasted from the end of World War II in 1945 to the election of Margaret Thatcher as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom in 1979. Shortly after the surrender of Germany in May 1945, a general election was held in the UK. The result was a landslide victory for the Labour Party, whose leader was Clement Attlee. The policies undertaken and implemented by this Labour government laid the base of the consensus.
3. Economic Conditions -
By 1900, the United States and Germany had developed large-scale industries; Britain's comparative economic advantage had lessened. London remained the financial and entrepreneurial capital of the world, until challenged by New York after 1918. The war saw an expansion of economic production, but also forced Britain to use up its financial reserves and borrow large sums from the U.S.
The human and material losses of the war were enormous. Germany owed billions in reparations, but Britain in turn owed the U.S. billion in loan repayments. With the end of war orders a serious depression hit the economy by 1921-22. In depressed areas the main social indicators pointed to terminal social and economic stagnation.
B) France -
1. Social Conditions -
Under German occupation, at night, the French had to close their...
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