Impact and Consequences of Second World War:
The Second World War broke out in 1939 and continued for a long period of six years. It came to an end in 1945. It was the most disastrous event of the world. In a real sense, it was a great war in all respects. In this war, the Axis powers were badly defeated and the Allied powers came out victorious. It greatly affected almost all aspects of human life as well as international politics of that time. The main results of the Second World War were as under-
Destruction of Human Lives and Material:
The Second World War was the most destructive war in history. The Fascists had converted a large part of Europe into a vast graveyard and a slave camp. The Nazis hatred of the Jews had been the main cause of their (Jews) slaughter on a large scale. Inside Germany and in those parts of Europe which came under German occupation before and during the war, Jews were picked up and six million of them were exterminated. Millions of people were transferred to what are known as concentration camps and killed. Thousands of people were burnt alive in gas chambers. In brief, we can say that the destruction caused by the war in the terms of human lives has no precedent in history. Over 50 million people perished in the Second World War. Of them, about 22 million were soldiers and over 28 million civilians. About 12 million people lost their lives in concentration camps or as a result of the terror unleashed by the Fascists. Some countries lost a large percentage of their population. For example- Poland lost about 20% of the Polish population. Besides the human losses, the economy and material resources of many countries were badly damaged. Many ancient cities were almost completely destroyed. The total cost of the Second World War has been estimated at the staggering figure of $ 138490 crores.
Race For Armaments:
The atom bombs and other destructive weapons were used during this war. It led to the race of armaments. The countries like Russia, Britain, France etc. developed nuclear and atomic weapons soon after the Second World War.
End of the Colonial Empire of European Powers:
As a consequence of the Second World War, the colonial empire of the European countries, which existed in Asia, came to an end. We have seen that many states were granted the right of independence after the First World War. In the same way, India, Ceylon, Burma and Malaya, Egypt and some other countries were granted freedom from the British sovereignty. Popular governments were established in these countries. The Asian empire of Holland, France and Portugal also became weak and the States which were under their Sovereignty became free. After this war, India came to be recognized as one of the great countries of the world. Thus, the political map of Asia changed thoroughly after the Second World War, because the European sovereignty was completely doomed in Asia.
End of European Supremacy and Rivalry in World Leadership:
Before Second World War, Europe made the history of the world but the war crippled European states economically and politically. Europe which once disciplined the whole world had now herself become ‘problem-ridden’. Germany was completely crippled, Italy was on the verge of disaster, and England and France had been reduced to the status of third class powers. These countries were economically disabled and suffered a great shortage of food, clothing and fuel. Tens of thousands of people had neither home nor employment. The gravity of the situation can be gauged from the fact that in spite of sustained efforts to solve the problem there were still 2 million unemployed people even ten years after the war. The leadership of the world slipped from the hands of England, for her empire had been shattered. No doubt British liberalism and love of freedom were responsible for the dissolution of her empire, still, her power had been greatly diminished by the USA and the USSR which cherished the ambition of world leadership. Attempts were made to divide the whole world into two camps. In a bid to regain her lost influence England converted her former empire into British Commonwealth.
Beginning of the Cold War:
After the end of World War politicians and people of the world believed that now a lasting peace would reign in the world and the Allied Powers, maintaining their war-time friendship and cooperation would be able to solve manifold post-war problems with their mutual understanding. But people’s expectation did not come true. After the war two great powers, the USA and USSR appeared on the international stage. They represented contrasting ideologies, so soon differences between the two cropped up on various counts. These differences generated so much tension and animosity that though there was no armed conflict between the two, a fierce war of charges and counter-charges, and propagation of mutually contradictory ideologies continued for many years. This is known as the ‘Cold War‘. Thus the nations which opposed each other maintained diplomatic relations and did not resort to overt clashes, but treated each other with hostility. The press in these countries continued to hurl charges and counter-charges till 1991.
Establishment of the United Nations Organization:
The destructive output of the Second World War opened the eyes of different countries. They realized the fact that peace and harmony could not be established without mutual cooperation, trust and friendship. They also realized that the war was not an ultimate means to solve the problems. The same feeling had already arisen after the First World War and the League of Nations was established on the basis of mutual cooperation. This organization embodied the efforts of President Wilson to bring idealism to bear upon practical politics. This idealism evaporated before the selfish motives of different nations. Hence, international cooperation failed in the field of politics and the Second World War broke out. After the Second World War, the countries again realized the importance and necessity of mutual cooperation. They decided to solve their problems through peaceful discussions so that the danger of war might be removed forever and peace might be established on a world level. The United Nations Organization (UNO) which was established in 1945, was solely based on this idea. Its fundamental aim was to maintain international peace and security, to develop friendly relations and international cooperation.