Devastation in Europe
The war had left Europe in ruins. Almost 40 million people were dead. Hundreds of cities were
reduced to rubble by constant bombing and
shelling. The ground war had destroyed much of
the countryside. Displaced persons from many
nations were trying to get back home. Often there
was no water, no electricity, and little food. Hunger
Agriculture had been disrupted. Most ablebodied men had served in the military, and the
women had worked in war production. Few had
remained to plant the fields. With factories
destroyed or damaged, most people had no earnings to buy the food that was available. Also the
small harvests did not reach the cities because the
transportation system had been destroyed.
Suffering continued for many years in Europe.
How did the war change Europe?
Postwar Governments and Politics
Europeans often blamed their leaders for the war
and its aftermath. Once Germany was defeated,
some prewar governments—like those in Belgium,
Holland, Denmark, and Norway—returned quickly. In Germany, Italy, and France, the old fascist
governments had disappeared. At first, the
Communist parties grew strong in France and
Italy. People who opposed Communism grew
alarmed. They voted leaders from other parties
into power. Communism lost its appeal when the
economies of these lands improved.
During efforts to rebuild Europe, the Allies
held the Nuremberg Trials in the German city of
Nuremberg. There, captured Nazi leaders were
charged with crimes against humanity. They were
found guilty, and some were executed.
Who did the Europeans blame for the war?
AND What were the Nuremberg Trials? - ANSWER BOTH PARTS!
Postwar Japan; Occupation Brings Deep Changes
The defeat suffered by Japan in World War II had
devastated that country. Two million lives had been
lost. The country’s major cities were in ruins.
The U.S. Army occupied Japan under the command of General MacArthur. He began a process
of demilitarization, breaking down the Japanese
armed forces. MacArthur also paid attention to
democratization, or creating a government elected by the people. His first step was to write a new
constitution. It gave all power to the Japanese people, who voted for members of a parliament that
would rule the land. All Japanese over age 20—
including women—were given the right to vote. In
1951, other nations finally signed a formal peace
with Japan. A few months later, U.S. military occupation ended.
What changes were made in Japan?