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How the World Changed After WW2

The end of the World War 2 ushered in a new era for the countries involved in the war and resulted in policies, some of which are still effective in world politics and governance today. Following the end of the war, there was a decline in the powers of the European colonial powers and the emergence of two superpowers; the Soviet Union (USSR) and USA. The USSR and USA were allies during the war; however, they became competitors for dominance on the world stage after the war. The rivalry that fueled the Cold War, which was a war, never became an overt total war but was fought through proxy wars, political subversion, and espionage (Shephard, 2010). Europe was seperated into the USA-allied, a block to the West and The Soviet-allied Eastern side, while on the international stage, there were gradual shifts in alliances with the two superpowers. Some countries opted not to be involved in the Cold War by establishing the Non-aligned movement.

The Cold War resulted in an arms race between the superpowers. With the mutual distrust between the former allies building up, there was a massive buildup of arms as the military force was considered an option to contain communist expansion. American officials supported the development of atomic weapons like those used in Japan. As a result, The Soviet Union also started testing its nuclear weapons. Therefore, the superpowers continued to threaten each other with the ability to make deadlier weapons. One primary reason the Cold War did not evolve into a total war was the potential of destruction that both sides could cause each other in a nuclear war (Shephard, 2010). As a result of the Cold War, the allies established the United Nations organization with the objective of maintaining international diplomacy and corporation, through which members agreed to illigalize aggression to prevent the occurrence of a third World War.

The territory of Germany was de facto annexed by the allies in the aftermath of the war. About ten million citizens of Germany were either expelled or not allowed to return into the country after the war. The rest of the German territory was partitioned into four regions to be controlled by the Allies (Berger, 2012). In 1949, Germany was effectively separated into the west, Federal Republic of Germany, and the German Democratic Republic on the east side. Germany was compelled to pay reparations to the USSR, France, and the UK. The country suffered reduced living standards as US and Britain pursued intellectual reparations through technological and scientific know-how (Berger, 2012). The US policy was that the Germans should not receive help to rebuild their country.

Following the end of the war, the allies annulled the annexations that Japan had done pre-war, as most of the territories of Japan were divided among the allies. Hundreds of thousands of Japanese had to move back into Japan’s main island. In an attempt to limit the potential of Japan becoming a future military threat, the Far Eastern Commission resolved to deindustrialize Japan, to revert the standards of living to the levels of 1930-1934 (Berger, 2012). However, deindustrialization did not happen to the level implemented in Germany. However, in 1948 a recommendation to reconstruct the Japanese economy to reduce the cost on US taxpayers through continuous aid funding. In the post-war period, massive advancements in technology led to a serious economic boom in many parts of the world.


Berger, T. U. (2012). War, guilt, and world politics after World War II. Cambridge University Press.

Shephard, B. (2010). The long road home: The aftermath of the Second World War. Random House.

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