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Post-War World

» When the Smoke Cleared

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U.S. Soldiers in Cologne Germany 1945
U.S. Soldiers in Cologne, Germany - March 1945

The devastation of World War II left the world a much different place than it had been in 1939 when the fighting began. No longer were Great Britain, France, and Germany the center of world power and influence. After peace treaties were signed and weapons laid down, two new superpowers emerged, setting the stage for the remainder of the 20th century.

The United States suffered far less damage and destruction than its allies. The Americans did not enter the war until December of 1941, and most of the fighting had occurred on European and Asian soil. In fact with the exception of Pearl Harbor, the U.S. completely escaped attack. It also suffered the fewest casualties of any nations involved in the war. While the dead and wounded numbered well over a million for Germany, Japan, and other countries, America's losses totaled fewer than 300,000.

Another significant factor contributing to America's post-war strength was the fact that it was the only country at the time that possessed the atomic bomb. Dropping the devastating weapons on two Japanese cities clearly demonstrated American power and dominance. Finally, the U.S. economy made great strides as a result of the war. Sale and production of war materials boomed, finally pulling the country out of the Great Depression. In short, by the late 1940's the United States was the richest country in the world.

Meanwhile on the other side of the world, another superpower rose from the ashes of World War II. Though the Soviet Union had suffered almost 20 million casualties during the war and was repeatedly attacked by Hitler’s armies, it still emerged as a force to be reckoned with. By 1945 the Soviets had the largest army in the world which helped them establish control over much of Eastern Europe. Due to their expansion, the Soviets acquired new markets and resources that allowed them to grow their economy well beyond pre-war levels.

Although both nations were strong players on the world stage, it was clear relations between the two superpowers would not be friendly. Despite fighting together during the war, the U.S. and the Soviet Union were no longer allies. The world quickly became polarized. One group of nations led by the United States and another led by the Soviet Union entered a period of suspicion, tension, and hostility known as the Cold War.

Answer the following questions from the reading above.

Which title choice would be the BEST for this passage?

Post W.W. II Power Shift
Comparing East and West
Superpowers Emerge
Setting the Stage

Explain your choice for the previous question.
(Requires Sentence)


The term polarized in the last paragraph most nearly means

dangerous.
divided.
destructive.
deadly.

Which pair of statements shows a clear cause-and-effect relationship?

America possessed the atomic bomb; it was powerful after the war.
The Soviets took over Eastern Europe; Hitler repeatedly attacked it.
Much of the fighting in W.W. II was in Europe; Japan was greatly weakened.
Casualty numbers were very high for the Soviets; they had ample resources.