15.3 Consequences of World War II
World War II produced disastrous consequences that
were unparalleled in the history of mankind.
The war caused unprecedented destruction of
life and property. There was a complete destruction of fields
and factories, mills and workshops and the houses of the civilians.
Crores of people died and many more were permanently disabled. In
the opinion of Chester Bowles, World War II "killed twenty-five
million people, permanently disabled twice that number and devastated
much of Germany, Italy, Poland and the Balkans, Russia, China and
The concentration camp at Auschwitz
where Jews were imprisoned and experimented upon in inhuman conditions
During the war, the Nazi dictator, Adolf Hitler
initiated a movement that aimed at wiping out the whole race of
Jews. This was called the holocaust. This movement was part
of his plan to conquer the world. Millions of Jews were imprisoned
into concentration camps and were subjected to inhuman tortures.
The captives were even starved to death. Cruel experiments were
performed on these helpless victims. The aged, the sick and the
disabled were poisoned with gas.
The war also created an acute scarcity of foodstuff,
essential commodities and cloth. This led to unprecedented inflation.
The standard of living fell drastically. Since the prices shot up,
life of millions became made miserable.
The war proved the moral degradation of man,
for he killed his own species in an unparalleled scale. Nazi Germany,
Fascist Italy and militarist Japan inflicted unimaginable cruelties
upon the combatants, non-combatants, as well as on innocent men,
women and children. The dropping of the two atom bombs by the U.S.
upon Japan in August 1945 demonstrated how man was competent enough
to wipe out the entire human race, within a split second. Both the
victors and the vanquished were guilty of behaving like barbarians.
The memorial at Hiroshima
The three great Axis Powers namely Italy, Germany
and Japan were leveled to dust.
(i) Germany, the chief architect of the war
was utterly humiliated and punished. At the Potsdam Conference,
Germany was divided into four zones. Each zone was placed under
a major allied victor.
(ii) The Italian empire disappeared from the
map of the world. The spoils of war, in terms of territory and reparation,
were shared and enjoyed by the major Allied victors.
(iii) After the war, Japan was placed under
the control of the Far Eastern Commission with General Mac Arthur
as the Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces. However, only
in 1951, did Japan regain its lost sovereignty, under the San Francisco
Great Britain emerged from the war as a
second-rate world power. The British Empire suffered heavy losses
during the war. After the war, within a short span of time, many
new nations were born on the ruins of the British Empire.
The strain of the war on France was beyond
her power of endurance. Though it emerged victorious from the war,
its status sank considerably in the international field and
it became a second-rate power. Undoubtedly, it also suffered heavy
The United States of America played a vital
role in winning the war. The U.S. manufacturers made fantastic profits.
World War II enabled the U.S.A. to play an important role in
financial, political and diplomatic domains all over the world.
The underdeveloped, developing and war-torn states turned their
eyes towards the U.S.A. for her aid both physical and financial.
Attlee, Truman and Stalin at the Potsdam Conference in August
In Russia, Stalin left no stone unturned
to extract as many concessions as possible from the Allies. This
enhanced the power and position of the former USSR. The Soviet Union
emerged from the war as another super power.
The flag of the erstwhile Soviet Union
World War II enhanced the prestige of the communist
dictatorship of Russia, and enabled it to spread its control all
over east and central Europe as well as Asia. However democracy
held its sway over Western Europe.
The World thus came to be divided into two power
(a) the Capitalist bloc of Great Britain, the
U.S. and their allies, and
(b) the Communist bloc of the Soviet Union and
The British, Dutch, French and Italian Empires
were left in a disintegrated state. New nations like India, Pakistan,
Burma and Ceylon were born on their ruins. Israel, Iran, Syria and
Lebanon won political freedom from their imperialist masters.