The greatest conflict in human history was now over.  The war that began on the heals of the Great Depression ended with mankind entering a new, deadly age.  Good had defeated evil.  Freedom over tyranny.  But at what cost?  Had peace finally come to the world?  Time will only tell.  As we distance ourselves from the conflict, memories fade and ignorance develops.  The question still remains:  How did it happen?  The answers are irrelevant.  It did happen.  Hopefully man has learned from the conflict and applies the knowledge towards peace.  The costs associated with the next war may be too much for our species to overcome.


Deaths


Actual totals of those who died during the war will never be known.  Estimates range from a minimum of 50,000,000 to well over 100,000,000.  As far as numbers, Russia and China suffered the most with 23,000,000 and 20,000,000 respectively.  Germany, the belligerent that started the war, at least in Europe, sustained over 7,000,000 deaths.  The United States, having not to fight on its home soil, suffered a mere 405,000 deaths.  Poland lost 16.5% of its total population during the war, Russia 14.2%.  By contrast, the United States lost 0.32%.  Hitler’s “Final Solution” cost the Jews of Europe over 6,000,000.


Germany


Germany was forced to give up its conquered territories of France, Czechoslovakia, Belgium, and Poland.  The country itself was divided into four zones of occupation, each administered by one of the Allies.  The destruction by the Allies, especially the bombing campaign, would take years of rebuilding.  The leading Nazis to be captured where put on trial at Nuremberg.  Twelve where sentenced to death by hanging while seven others received prison sentences.  All tolled, over 1,000 Germans where tried, convicted, and executed for their role during the war.


Japan


Following the surrender of Japan, the United States placed General Douglas MacArthur in command of the occupation.  Emperor Hirohito was permitted to keep his position, however he was stripped of all of his powers beyond those ceremonial in nature.  Japan was forced to give up all of its lands outside of its four main islands and pay $100 million in reparations.  War Minister Hideki Tojo was found guilty of war crimes and executed along with six other top officials.


The New World Order


The United States emerged from the war as a “Super Power”.  Possessing atomic weapons gave them an edge, however Stalin and the Soviets would close the gap within a couple of years, ushering in the Cold War.  The western Allies allowed democracy to flourish in Europe, however the Soviets dropped what became known as the “Iron Curtain” over Eastern Europe.  Conflicts would continue, walls would be built, and vast arsenals of nuclear weapons would be created.  The need for a “United Nations” would prevail as the lessons learned at Versailles would be applied.  


The world continues to live in fear today.  Fear of another world conflict.  Fear of what the results could be.  Fear of another Holocaust, this one being nuclear.  With any luck, mankind will have learned its lesson from what many in the United States call the “Greatest Generation”.  Time will tell.

 

THE COSTS OF WAR

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