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Lecture

HST 504 - Week 12.docx


Department
History
Course Code
HST 504
Professor
Mike Kasprzak

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HST 504 Week 12
Keywords
Potsdam Conference
Holocaust
Bretton Woods system
International Monetary Fund
United Nations
Truman Doctrine
Iron Curtain
Costs Unimaginable: The Impact of the Second World War
The physical and psychological costs of the Second World War far outweighed those of the Great
War.
By the early 1940s, it had truly become a “total war” with battlefields spanning across the globe.
No corner of the world had been left untouched by the war. Some areasespecially in Europe
had been destroyed beyond recognition.
Indiscriminate tactical bombing of industrial, military and civilian targets had been a popular tactic
used by all the belligerents.
The air raids on the Germany city of Dresden killed thousands of civilians and destroyed the city.
To provide another example: by the war’s conclusion only 15% of buildings remained standing in
Poland’s capital city of Warsaw.
Recovery from such devastation would take years.
The war had also inflicted tremendous demographic costs, becoming the deadliest conflict in
human history.
It is roughly estimated that over 50 million people were killed as a result of all the fighting with
more than half being civilians.
Streets and city squares, sometimes even random scraps of land, had become cemeteries.
The vast majority (more than 80%) of these fatalities were on the Allied side.
The Soviet Union felt the greatest losses of all, with 27 million deadone out of four people died
during the war.
Millions became victims not only of disease and starvation but of ethnic cleansing, genocide and
population migration driven by racial policies and ethnic hatreds.
Those responsible for these atrocities had to be punished. Many survivors wanted to take
revenge on the guilty.
The economic costs of the war were also enormous.
The Europeans had completely depleted what remained of their financial resources to fight each
other.
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