Effects of the Second World War

Positive consequences

i) The war gave rise to European economic integration and regional economic organisations to improve the welfare of mankind. This led to the formation of organisations like the Organisation of European Economic Co-operation and Development (O.E.E.C.D), European Coal and Steel Community (B.C.S.C), European Free Trade Association (E.F.T.A) and European Economic Community (E.E.C) in 1958. After the war, American companies that had made abnormal profits from producing war related products bought shares in European countries which led to the formation of multi-national companies. These companies expanded their investment throughout the world e.g. B.A.T, Pepsi cola and oil companies such as Shell and Caltex.

ii) The war led to the defeat and downfall of great military dictators of Europe. The pressure of the war forced Hitler to commit suicide while Mussolini was killed by his own soldiers towards the end of the war. This marked the collapse of Nazism and fascism in the history of Europe. Militaristic leaders in other areas like Spain and Japan were overthrown. These undermined totalitarianism and paved way for democratic governments throughout Europe.

iii) On the other hand, the war led to the liberation of states that were victims of aggression by the axis powers. The defeat of Germany and her allies was followed by the granting of independence to smaller states like Poland, Hungary, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, Austria and Ethiopia that had been under German and Italian rules. This was done by the allied powders during and after the end of the war. A number of Germans, Italians and Japanese who had settled in such conquered territories were expelled to their mother lands after the war.

iv) The formation of U.N.O to replace the League of Nations whose weakness was responsible for the outbreak of the war was an outcome of the Second World War. The idea for the formation of U.N.O came from Dumbarton Oaks war time conference of 1944 between USA, Britain, Russia and China.

Thereafter, the first draft of the U.N.O was signed in April 1945 at San Francisco. On Oct 1945, the U.N.O was officially proclaimed at its headquarter in New York with six (6) organs to facilitate its role in world affairs. The main concerns were peace, international co-operation and development.

v) The establishment of the Jewish state of Israel in 1948 and the rise of Zionism were occasioned by World War 11. During the course of World War II, the Jews were persecuted and massacred by the Nazis, Fascists and Arabs. Consequently, Jewish immigrants flooded Palestine-and a serious conflict developed with the indigenous Palestinian Arabs. Britain tried in vain to resolve the conflict and referred it to the UN Security Council In 1947. In 1948, the Security Council created the Jewish state of Israel out of the Arab state of Palestine. However, this marked the beginning of a protracted conflict between the Jews and Arabs in the Middle East, which have been a constant threat to world peace.

vi) The war resulted into abandonment of appeasement policy. Appeasement policy that was intended to avoid war instead boomeranged and caused the outbreak of war in 1939. Chamberlain was so disappointed by Hitler's unending demands and invasion of Poland that he regretted for having pursued appeasement policy. The invasion made Britain and France to realise the blunder of appeasement policy and join the war against Germany. From then on wards, the policy was abandoned in the diplomatic politics of Europe.

vii) The Marshall Aid plan and COMECON were initiated to help the West and East respectively to revamp economies that were dislocated by the war. The Marshall Aid plan was an economic recovery scheme in which food, fuel, machinery, raw materials and money (valued at $13 billion) were given to save the collapsing capitalist economies of Europe. The Russian Prime Minister Viache Molotov responded by initiating the Molotov plan and COMECON to save the badly revenged socialist economies. These aids were to help the antagonistic blocs to reconstruct their economies and solve economic problems like inflation, unemployment, poverty and starvation.

viii) The rise and growth of nationalism in the Middle East, Asia and Africa were also due to the war. It led to the rise of USA and USSR who supported decolonisation movements especially in Africa against the British and French colonial masters. The war also weakened France and Britain and thus weakened their abilities to manage their colonies which gave the colonised people chance to fight for their independence. The few people who fought in the war were inspired with revolutionary ideas that they used to champion the move towards independence. All these contributed to the decolonisation of countries such as Ghana, Sudan, Egypt, Libya, Palestine, Kuwait, Israel etc. One should acknowledge that the decolonisation process led to loss of colonies by European powers.

Negative consequences

ix) The war resulted into massive destruction of lives. Over 50 million people died as a direct consequence of the war. Of these, about 22 million were soldiers and 28 civilians. About 6 million Jews were exterminated in Germany and areas occupied by the Nazi troops during the war. There were mass killings in concentration camps which became death camps. Prisoners were made to dig mass graves &om where-, they were shot and buried. Generally, about 12 million people lost their lives in concentration camps as a result of terror unleashed by the fascists and Nazis. The overall consequence was depopulation and a change Sin the population structure.

x) Properties whose value cannot be quantified were also destroyed during the war. Intensive bombardment of towns and cities demolished properties such as industries, houses and war machineries. Industrial towns like the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were completely razed to the ground by US atomic bombs which became the worst destruction in the history of mankind by. 1970. This left behind the problem of reconstruction amidst financial crisis that befall the world due to the war.

xi) There was also a large influx of homeless refugees and Internally Displaced Persons. Thousands of them were kept in camps in Western Europe during and after the war. Most of these were people like the Jews who were fleeing the Nazi and fascist aggressions. This left the allied powers with the problem of how to repatriate and rehabilitate such displaced persons. This burden was shouldered by the international community through the UNO.

xii. On the other hand, there were migrations outside Europe. Fear of death in Europe forced some families and groups of individuals to flee as far as America, Australia and South Africa. War criminals who were wanted to answer charges for atrocities they committed during the war also fled across Europe as a strategy of evading arrest. This explains why some of the most wanted Nazi and fascist commanders were not arrested and tried.

xiii) The Second World War changed the balance of power and Jed to the rise of USA and USSR as super powers. The Soviet/Russian soldiers consolidated communism in Eastern Europe and Russia emerged as a super power commanding great influence in Eastern Europe. USA that did not suffer much from the war and whose atomic bombing of Japan brought the war to an end also emerged from the west as a dominant power. The rise of USA and USSR were at the expense of Britain, France and Germany who were the hitherto traditional superpowers.

xiv) The emergence of USA and USSR led to intense rivalry, suspicion, hatred and conflict that gave rise to cold war. This was partly because of the struggle by Soviet Union/Russia to consolidate and spread communism, which was antagonized by American determination to spread capitalism. This divided the world into two antagonistic ideological camps, which led to the formation of NATO by USA in 1949 and War Saw Fact by USSR in 1955. It should be noted that Russia planted communist regimes in her areas of occupation that threatened western powers and led to the cold war. On the other hand, countries that did not want to identify themselves with the two antagonistic camps under the leadership of India formed the Non Align Movement.

XV) Economic decline was direct consequence of World War II Productive sectors like agriculture, trade, transport, communication and industries were disrupted and destroyed during the war. The British and French economies for were shattered and left in a quagmatic state. This brought famine, starvation, inflation and unemployment to millions of survivors.

xvi) Germany was partitioned into two separated by the famous Berlin wall that belonged to

Russia had a socialist government and West Germany that was given to USA Britain and France had a capitalist, government. This was to punish Germany for her aggression that had led to the outbreak of the first as well as the second world wars. It was also to weaken Germany in order to safeguard Europe and the world from further German aggression and war.

NB. The division of Germany ended with the reunification of Germany in 1991

This only ended when the compensation bill was cleared.

xvii) Japan was devastated by the Second World War. She became a physical ruin, an economic desert and a Centre of political turmoil/ confusion. The Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were razed to the ground by American atomic bombs whose effects were still being felt up to 1970. She was also forced to abandon her claims of Manchuria that was given back to china. Worst of all Japan was colonised by USA in order to compensate for the destruction of USA’s fleet at Pearl Habour in 1944. This only ended when the compensation bill was cleared.

xviii) It also stimulated rapid scientific innovations that led to the production of weapons of mass destruction. The war witnessed the use of atomic bombs for the first time in the history of mankind. This was used by USA with devastating impact on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. After the war, Russia, Japan, Britain, Iraq, North Korea and Pakistan embarked on research in the production of weapons of mass destruction. This was responsible for the nuclear crisis that has degenerated to war in post-World war II era. It also enhanced arms and rearmament in post-World war II era.

However from the summer of 1942, the rapid advancement of the axis troops were systematically checked and reversed. The Nazi and Fascist troops lost several battles and by 1944 they were defeated.