What is Postwar Disillusionment?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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In the broadest of senses, postwar disillusionment refers to the pain of readjusting to life after war.  This can be experienced in different lights.  For example, after World War I, significant elements of postwar disillusion can be seen in specific contexts.  For Americans, this resulted in a complete isolationist viewpoint towards how Americans viewed Europe.  There was a significant disillusion towards being able to assist Europeans and other nations in fighting off significant threats.  At the same time, postwar disillusion in Europe resulted in a general rejection of the institutions and ideologies that plunged the continent into the worst of all wars.  Faith in governments, religion, and society was reduced to the rubble that seemed to dominate all of the continent.  Another example of postwar disillusion can be seen in the rise of an existential angst after the Second World War.  Seeing the destruction brought about by the use of the atomic bomb in Japan, the death camps of the Holocaust, as well as the lack of any real and substantive justice against the Nazis help to develop a condition in which postwar disillusion was directed inwards at the individual sense of being as well as the idea that the individual was powerless in the face of wide ranging and such intense social conditions and realities.  It is here where I think that postwar disillusion can be seen in different contexts after war has been raged and its damage felt.


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