The World War II refers to the global conflict that took place between 1939 to 1945. Also referred to as the Second World War, the conflict involved many nations, especially the great powers. The conflict had two opposing military alliances, the Axis and the Allies (Hakim, p 8). This war has been considered as one of the most spread war in the world history since it involved the mobilization of more than 100 million military personnel. The Allies alliance during the war was made up of countries that opposed the Axis powers.
The Big Three” or the three major nations that led the Allied Alliance were the United States of America, Britain, and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republic. Other nations that were part of the Allied Alliance included China, France, Poland, Australia, Canada, and South Africa. The Axis Alliance opposed the Allies, and it was led by three major Axis powers. These powers were; Germany, Italy and Japan. These three countries in September 1940 had signed a Tripartite Pact upon which the Axis Alliance was founded. Other nations that were part of the Axis Alliance included; Hungary, Romania, and Yugoslavia.
Some the Axis co- belligerents included; Finland, India, Vietnam, and Iraq. The state of total war as a result of this conflict had the major nations that were involved use their scientific, industrial, and economic capabilities in order to develop weapons or plan military strategies that would maximize their probability of winning the war (Russell, p 15). It is estimated that over 70 million people were killed, with the majority being civilians. This made the war one of the deadliest human conflict to ever occur. The war began in 1939, and was triggered by the Germany’s invasion of Poland.
This later led to the France, United Kingdom, and the United States declaration of war on Germany. Some of the well known events that occurred during the Second World War include; the Operation Barbararossa, Pearl Harbour attack and the Marco Polo Bridge incident. The war ended in 1945 and had the United States and the Soviet Union turn out to be the superpowers. The World War II broke out in Europe after Hitler led the Axis Alliance by first invading Poland. There were several major effects of Second World II on Germany and Europe. In this paper, these effects will be discussed.
Major effects of World War II in Germany Germany was one of the leading nations in the Axis Alliance against the Allies during the Second World War. Germany is considered to have developed some of the most sophisticated and most destructive weapons during the war. Together with the cost of military operations, Germany used a great amount of its finances to develop weapons for use during the war. The Nazi Germany which was led by Adolf Hitler invested great amounts of financial resources to cater for the costs of the war.
In 1936, Adolph Hitler in his efforts to purchase war materials at low prices imposed price controls on the Germany people. Rationing later followed in 1939. Price controls that were put on food led to food shortages during the war. This led to the people growing their food and doing barter trade with their personal belongings for food. Compensation trade was born during the war; as a result of the wide spread barter trade. Due to the business to business transactions, many business firms hired a person who could barter a firms’ output. The barter trade was inefficient compared to the direct purchase of commodities and services using money.
According to a Germany economist Walter Eucken self- sufficiency and barter trade were incompatible. Due to an extensive labor division, Germans’ economic system had been “reduced to a primitive condition” (Harlett 1978, p. 34). The Germany economy after the war was in shambles. In the housing sector, Adolph- Hitler scorched – earth policy together with the war had affected about 20 per cent of the housing. Germanys’ economic hardship had the food production per capita from 1938 to 1947 reduce by 51 per cent. In addition, the occupying powers had set the food ration between 1040 and 1550 calories per day.
As compared to the industrial out put in 1938, Germanys’ out put in 1947 was only a third of the 1938 industrial output. Due to the death of a large number of working -age men during the war, Germany had inadequate labor. The economic hardship had triggered the Germany government to put in place measures that would rejuvenate the country’s’ economy. The government eliminated the price controls that were initially there, while the currency was reformed. This occurred in 1948. Later in 1948 and1949, there was reduction of the marginal tax rates. These measures saw the Germanys’ economy grow rapidly 20 years after the World War II.
Germany’s economic problems can also be attributed to the World War I effects. Before the World War I, the German Empire had a prosperous economy. However,after the war,Germany’s economic prosperity was considered to have been ruined by treaties such as the 1919 Treaty of Versallies. The signing of the treaties by Germany together with the World War I effects led to great inflation in the early 1920s. Though Germany’s economy improved after the First World War, the economic problems that characterized this period to some extent came to affect Germany’s economy after the World War II.
The first several years in Germany after the World War II were of great economic problems. This resulted from the destruction of property, land, and homes during the war (Klopstock, p 285). Furthermore, many Germans fled from their homes during the war, a situation that made working almost impossible. This reduced the economic productivity of the nation, whose negative effects after the war became evident. In addition to this, the industrial and agricultural production had drastically reduced in Germany. Many millions of people lacked food and clothing as the inflation raged in Germany.
Food shortage had become severe and “each day, and particularly on weekends, vast hordes of people trekked out to the country to barter food from the farmers”(Wallich, p 65). Despite the economic problems that the Germans were experiencing, the political leaders were able to exploit the situation in order to build a very strong economy in future. The economic problems encouraged the German political leaders to focus on the future plans of reviving Germany’s economy. The leaders saw a new beginning in the ruined economy, where the economy was viewed as an instrument of prosperity.
The need to have a prosperous economy would then assist the Germans to have a stable society, as well as to safeguard democracy. The leaders sought both the economic prosperity and social peace. A prosperous economy would also make sure that there was equal opportunity for all the German citizens so that eruption of a revolution would be prevented when bitter frustration of the underprivileged social groups was avoided. The reviving of the German economy and “economic system that had been reduced to a primitive condition” (Hazlett, p 34) due to the economic problems experienced as a result of the World War II became important.
The economy was revived through the efforts of some Germans’ post war leaders such as Ludwig Erhard. The currency reforms that were introduced through the efforts of Erhard led to the abolition of the Reichmark and the Deutsche mark introduction. The installation of the new currency began in 1948 led to economic success. Furthermore, Erhard abolished the Nazi and the occupation regulations and rules. This was the beginning of a prosperous and free economy in Germany, which in turn established the foundation of a growing West Germany economy.
Apart from the economic problems experienced in Germany, another major effect of the World War II(WWII) in Germany was the division of Germany into two (East and West Germany) for about 40 years. The division occurred in 1949 and ended on October 1990 to reunite the two sides. The three Allied Zones of Occupation were brought together to form West Germany. These three zones were those that were held by France, United Kingdom, and the United States. The two special territories in German’s two states were Berlin and the Saarland. Since the West was democratically organized, it considered itself to have exclusive mandate for all of Germany.
The Yalta Conference that was held by the Soviet Union, United States, and the United Kingdom leaders aimed as paving the way forward for future arrangements with the Europe after the World War II. It was during the conference that the leaders decided to split Germany into four occupation Zones. These Zones included; the French Zone, American Zone, British Zone, and the Soviet Zone. West Germany was formed in 1949 and comprised of the Western Allied Zones. The Soviet Zones formed the East Germany, which was also referred to as the Germany Democratic Republic.
The West Germany economy grew so rapidly due to the economic aid from the United States and also the Marshall Plan. But more importantly, the currency reforms that were introduced in West Germany strengthened the economy. Both the East and West Germany had mutual recognition of each other and the relation between the two was normalized by treaties such as the Treaty of Warsaw(1970),Basic Treaty(1972) and the Treaty of Moscow(1970). West Germany became cosmopolitan due to the western culture influences while East Germany was conservative.
The East Germany adhered to the socialist ideologies, where there was less freedom as compared to West Germany. In addition, the West Germany government was more decentralized and East Germany had a government based on the Communist ideaologies. The reunification of the East and West Germany occurred on 3 October 1990 to form the Federal Republic of Germany, which is the current Germany. The Berlin Wall was constructed in 1961 to separate the two regions, but it was destroyed in 1989 after the reunification of East and West Germany.
The third major effect of the World War II on Germany was the great advancement in technology. This resulted from German’s great technological ability to develop and use highly sophisticated and powerful weapons and industrial technology. Germany is considered to have developed and used some of the most powerful and sophisticated weapons during the World War II. For instance, Germany managed to develop powerful anti-aircraft weaponry, aircraft bombers, bombs, guns, rifles, and chemical weapons. The jet aircrafts which had been developed late during the war were advanced after the World War II.
The Navy advancements during the World War II paved way for more technological development in the naval field. The German designs such as the Type VII submarine were used during the World War II, and the technology was later used after the war for greater advancement. For instance, after the division of Germany into West and East Germany, some of the German’s intellectual privileges that were of industrial advantage. The Allies who had control over West Germany confiscated Germans’ intellectual privileges and used them for their own companies.
This led to rapid growth in industrialization due to the technology that had been developed by the Germans. Major Effects of World War II on Europe The World War II had so many countries involved, with the majority being from Europe. Examples of European countries that took part in the war included the United Kingdom, Italy, Germany, France, and Poland. These countries and Europe as a continent experienced some major effects of the World War II. One major effect of the World War II on Europe was economic problems.
The World War II had demanded that nations that were involved in the conflict invest their scientific, industrial, and economic capabilities. This required huge amounts of financial resources. Before the war, many European nations had very strong economic abilities. The nations’ economic and population advantage was very essential for success in the war. In addition, the European nations that had major industrial and financial developments included Germany, United Kingdom, and France. Industrial development that had spread across Europe before the war had contributed to great economic development in the European nations.
The Industrial Revolution had led to rapid economic growth, which put the European nations at a good position to compete with the United States of America which was then an economic might. The World War II led to the destruction of Europe’s industrial centers and this affected negatively the high production of products or commodities that would be sold to increase economic growth in Europe (Tucker, p 771). The European infrastructure that was greatly destroyed made it hard for the citizens to undertake activities that would contribute to the economic growth.
The European countries during the war had continued to increase their spending on developing and producing military weapons. There was construction of strategic road network by some European nations with the aim of increasing their probability of winning the war. The need for synthetic rubber and oil from coal to use during the war promoted great financial investments by the European nations. For instance, Britain’s’ economy was harnessed to the World War II efforts. The destruction of Europe’s infrastructure led to economic problems.
The damage of the road and rail networks during the war made it very difficult for the European nations after to move the essential goods from one place to another. The economy was exhausted, a good example being Britain’s economy. For the European countries that were involved in the World War, their economies experienced severe inflation. Though rationing and luxury goods absence in Europe before the war had encouraged people to save, the people were unable to spend their savings since there were no commodities to purchase as would be preferred.
The economic hardships in Europe made some European countries to borrow heavily from other nations with a strong economy such as the United States. The economic hiccups in Europe were later followed by economic recovery, where the currency reforms “quickly reestablished money as the preferred medium of exchange and monetary incentives as the prime mover of economic activity” (Heller, p 215). Another major effect of the World War II on Europe was environmental destruction. The World War II resulted to great environmental destruction. In many cases, any warfare or military conflict has very devastating effects on Europe’s natural environment.
Improvements in technology during the war led to the invention of military weapons that were very destructive to the human life as well as the natural ecosystems. For example, the use of powerful and sophisticated bombs in the war destroyed animal and plant life. Furthermore, new chemical components that made up the weapons were released into the environment. This affected the soil fertility and composition, and this made it impossible for land to regain its fertility. The chemical components released from the explosives used in the war made it impossible for some arable land to be productive again.
Many parts of Europe that acted as military grounds experienced great environmental degradation. The technological advancements during the World War II were incompatible with environmental preservation. War can never be compatible with the preservation and conservation of the natural environment. The environmental degradation that was occurring during the war was not a bother to the parties that were involved in the war. The military operations, destruction of natural vegetation to build communication lines and roads, and artillery shelling destroyed the environment.
The new and effective ways military strategies that were used by the different nations’ forces to attack the enemies or defending themselves from the enemies increased environmental destruction. Long after the war ended, Europe’s natural environment has not yet recovered from the destruction it experienced during the war. In the era of technological advancement and industrialization, environmental issues seemed to cause very little concern in Europe, hence the effects of the war have proved that the war through technological advancement had become a great environmental threat.
The increased use of chemical weapons resulted to long-lived negative effects on the environment. The waste disposal practices during and after the war in Europe resulted to “significant contamination of soils and ground water with high explosives” (Pennington et al, p 163). For example, the use of high explosives has made the recovery of the environment from destruction in Europe almost impossible. Consequently, the environment has become a health hazard to the people with the land mines that are still trapped in the soil/lands making some parts of the Europe land inhabitable.
The areas were turned into waste land. Great technological advancements were another major effect of the World War II was witnessed in Europe. These changes that were witnessed were as a result of the nations that took part in the war struggle to invent and use better and powerful military weapons than their rivals. The technological development during and after the First World War promoted more advancements after the World War I . This is because, the improvements made after the World War II were an improvement on those that had earlier been invented.
The inventions were considered as very critical when it came to winning the war, and this promoted technological inventions that were very instrumental to the economic development of many European nations after the war. The use of radio’s and electricity became possible due to the technological development witnessed during the wars. Research that had been intensively done by the Allies and the Axis with the aim of outdoing each other’s weapons became very important to more inventions after the war.
The technological innovations of the war paved way for the naval technological development witnessed up to date. For instance, the introduction of aircraft receivers and radio communication systems during the war led to more development in naval industry long after the war. The technological advancement became a very vital requirement for survival during the war no doubt led to greater inventions after the war in Europe. Conclusion The World War II has been considered as one of the most devastating conflict to ever occur.
This is due to the high number of people who were killed during the war. The various nations that were involved in the conflict invested greatly to the war efforts through finances and scientific inventions. Germany was one of the major players in the conflict and it proved to have great ability to develop and use powerful weapons against its enemies. The major effects of the war were both positive and negative. While some effects have been devastating to the people and the natural environment, others have brought about development in various fields of economic growth