The Aftermath of World War II

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Why was World War II a significant event in human history?

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World War II was an incredibly significant event in human history due to the sheer size and scope of its destruction across Europe, the millions upon millions of people who died from actively fighting in the war and from being murdered through the Holocaust, and how the aftermath of the war led to an increase in America as a militarized, imperialist world power. Over six million people (mostly Jewish) died from the death camps and street executions of the Nazi Party's "final solution" across Europe.

Over sixty million people died from actively fighting the war and from the disease and famine that the war brought across European nations. Some European nations took decades to recover from the war, and further destabilization of Eastern Europe occurred as a result. The United States dropped atomic bombs on the Japanese island cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, which killed over 120,000 people and have led to health problems and birth defects to this day from the nuclear fallout. Another result of World War II that is often not talked about is the creation of the colonial Israeli state in 1948. The Israeli government expelled Palestinian people from their homes in 1948, in what is known as "Nakba" or "the catastrophe," which Zionists declared as a move to create a state for Jewish people. Of course, Palestinian people had nothing to do with the horrific genocide against Jewish people during World War II, and yet, they are now facing what some consider a genocide by the Israeli state.

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World War II was significant for a number of reasons, uppermost of which was its explicitly ideological nature. The War wasn't fought, as so many previous conflicts had been, simply on the basis of territorial disputes. Territory was still a factor, of course, but what mattered most of all were the ideological imperatives behind it.

Hitler wanted to create a racial German Empire in Eastern Europe. This was an explicitly ideological aim based upon the notion that the German people were a master race whose destiny lay in conquering and subjugating the supposedly inferior peoples of the East. Hitler understood that this was no ordinary war; this was nothing less than a war of annihilation, in which the stronger race would prevail while the weaker ones went to the wall.

The ideological nature of World War II spilled over into the Cold War, when the liberal democracies of the West, led by the United States, faced off against the Soviet Union and her Communist allies. The numerous localized conflicts that spread across the globe during this period were largely expressions of competing ideologies rather than straightforward clashes between states.

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World War II significantly outranks other wars throughout history in several ways. Geographically the war involved more countries, was fought on more fronts and involved battles in more major oceans than any other war in history. Casualties count over 50 million service members and civilians making it the deadliest war ever fought. 

Socially and politically, the war literally changed the world because it involved so many countries. The United States came into its own as a major power and ended the war as a super power with Russia. European countries lost political strength. 

Technology made enormous strides as the war effort made demands on technology developers. Communication devices advanced as did weaponry and vehicles. Women joined the workforce in significant ways for the first time, as did African Americans, changing the face of businesses. This influx of activity into businesses also helped end the Great Depression in the U.S. 

Lastly, the creation and use of the first Atomic Bombs ushered in a new era of terrifying war time capabilities that had the potential to cause massive casualties and devastation.

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