Consequences of WWII

Although the textbook this week on WWII did not go into a lot of detail about the subject, I think that unarguably the biggest consequence of WWII has to be the Holocaust, and the systematic extermination of over 6 million people throughout all of Europe with the primary focus being on those who were Jewish.  The Jews were not the only target for Nazi extinction, however, and political dissidents, gypsies, homosexuals and several other minority groups were targeted as well.  Overall, the death of millions of people has to be considered one of the biggest crises of the 20th century, and has far-reaching implications that continue to the present day.  Those numbers combined with the total number of military causalities makes the total death count in WWII at over 66 million, which made up about 3% of the world’s population in 1940.[1]  The effect of the Holocaust, however, did not end when the camps were liberated.

Anti-Semitism in Europe was hardly a Nazi invention.  The Jews had been persecuted throughout Europe all through the middle ages and through the Renaissance, and lingering sentiments of anti-Semitic ideals outlived the Nazi regime.  Many Jews liberated from the numerous concentration camps faced persecution, rape, abuse and murder at the hands of their liberators – and the Russians were notorious for their mistreatment of now-displaced Jews throughout Germany and Poland.[2]  In addition, many liberated Jews were afraid to return to their homeland due to lingering sentiments against them.  Poland especially was the site of many anti-Semitic pogroms, with riots breaking out in several cities including Kielce.[3]

Recent studies have also analyzed the lingering effect that the Holocaust had on the Russian areas that were most affected by mass deportation and anti-Jewish pogroms.  Surprisingly, although the Jews were a minority in Russia and were also victims of Anti-Semitic pogroms led by Russia itself, the Jewish people made up a disproportionate slice of the Russian middle class, and areas in Russia that were the most affected by Jewish displacement have lingering economic and political implications up through modern times.[4]

Ultimately the displacement of European Jewry led to the founding of the state of Israel with allied – especially the United States – support.  The United States also allowed for emigration to America for up to 28,000 displaced Jews from the European continent.[5]  The effect of the Holocaust not only on the Jews but on European society and its effect on the world at large cannot possibly be overstated.  Nationalistic ideals that allow and create genocidal programs as policy cannot be allowed to be formed.  Not only are the people targeted in danger, but the rest of us are in danger as well – whether actively participating or passively allowing mass genocide to occur, the result and its effect on society at large are detrimental and dangerous and cannot be condoned under any policy in any nation at any time.

[1] “By the Numbers: World Wide Deaths” The National WWII Museum, Web, Accessed 27 November 2016, available from http://www.nationalww2museum.org/learn/education/for-students/ww2-history/ww2-by-the-numbers/world-wide-deaths.html

[2] United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, “The Aftermath of the Holocaust” The Holocaust Encyclopedia, Web, accessed 27 November 2016, available from https://www.ushmm.org/wlc/en/article.php?ModuleId=10005129.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Steve Bradt, “A Rippling Effect of the Holocaust” The Harvard Gazette, Web, accessed 27 November 2016, available from http://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2010/06/a-rippling-effect-of-the-holocaust/

[5] United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.

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