What is Postwar Disillusionment?
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.
After the euphoria of the different wars died down and the soldiers were trooping back home, the realities of the situation at home were increasingly getting magnified. In hindsight, the war had achieved nothing and only served to introduce new challenges and problems. Leaders and citizens were questioning their country’s involvement in the war in light of the challenges they were facing back home. These sentiments created a situation of post-war disillusionment because the war was over but the challenges that the people faced still remained, and in some places, the problems increased. Everyone was being forced to readjust to the new situation. People openly regretted getting involved in the war, and together with their leaders they publicly rejected all war. The death of soldiers during the war only confirmed the assertion that war must be avoided at all costs. The majority of people wanted a return to peacetime activities and anticipated the opportunity to settle some of the issues back home.