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What were the post World War 2 effects on Germany?

What were the post World War 2 effects on Germany?

What were the impacts of WW2 on Germany? Obviously the war meant that a lot of resources were spent and that the youth population was significantly reduced. How did this affect Germany's post war economy and the life of people in general? Were the Germans discriminated against thereafter for being supportive of the Nazi regime while they were under it?


This is a pretty big question; entire books have been written on the subject of postwar Germany. You might want to narrow it down. I'll take a shot at the discrimination portion:

While there was a lot of resentment towards the Axis peoples, the growing rivalry between Russia and the western Allies changed the dynamics a lot. American leaders took a more pragmatic view than the general citizenry. Even before the war ended they were working to soften public attitudes towards the German people, as opposed to the Nazi leadership.

They did this because they wanted, at all costs, to limit the spread of both Communism and Russian power (which they thought were closely related, but that's another issue entirely :P).

They knew that the harsh settlement after WWI, coupled with the worldwide Depression of the 30s, had had a lot to do with the popular support for Naziism; and they worried that another long period of suffering could make the German population go Communist.

Moreover, they needed to prepare for a possible war with Russia, which meant fortifying the areas they'd occupied. Germany ended up being partitioned, with the Russians controlling the east and the western Allies taking the West (incidentally, Korea's division into North and South happened at the same time and for the same reason).

The western Allies, especially America, knew that if there was to be another shooting war, it would likely be along this border. They wanted the local economy to be both able and willing to support the capitalist faction if that happened. So, the western Allies invested a lot in reconstructing the German economy. In America, the money for reconstructing Europe (not just Germany, though that was a lot of it) was called the Marshall plan.

They sold the idea to their populations by downplaying the responsibility of average citizens in the former Axis countries. There were certainly elements of the population that would've preferred to take a more punitive stance, but the combination of moral and practical considerations made the Marshall plan reasonably popular.

Of course, even with that help, conditions in Germany (and a lot of other places) were quite rough for the decade or so following WWII. But again, that's a subject for a bookshelf, not a single post.


Initially Germany was treated extremely harshly under the Morgenthau Plan. However with concerns over the Soviet Union rising and the importance of the German economy to the rest of Europe, eventually that plan was shelved and reform measures were initiated.

Somewhat analogously, concerns about Soviet power also made the US push for rapid economic development of Japan.


The Post War II treatment of Germany was relatively mild, and aimed at "rehabilitating" the country. (Germany was a recipient of Marshall Plan aid, and the Allies organized the (West) Berlin airlift to supply the city with food when the Soviets cut off land-base supplies).

It was after the FIRST World War that Germany was treated like a pariah, through the Versailles Treaty. This, unfortunately, led to the rise of Hitler and World War II. The Allies appear to have learned a lesson the second time around.


There are a number of very obvious and not obvious effects on Germany, both practical and social.

  • in the invasion of Germany from 1944 to 1945, many German cities were bombed extensively. Most of the econmy in the post war years was geared towards physical rebuilding.

  • many Germans died in the war, leaving a generation gap just like WWI.

  • immediately after the war, millions (~7.7m) of German soldiers were kept in POW camps. The death rate in those camps was very high (from 19% to 39%).

  • part of Poland's 'restitution' was to 'move' westward, losing territory next to the Ukraine and getting Silesia and eastern most part of then Germany up to the Oder-Neisse rivers. Also, the Soviets got Prussia. Part of this deal was the movement of millions of Germans from these areas into the rest of Germany. Also, the Germans in Bohemia were repatriated to Germany. The number given is roughly 15 million

  • Germany was split into two parts, the west occupied and controlled by Britain France and the US, the east by the Soviets. The two sides developed very differently.

  • The western part after 1950 experienced the Wirtschaftswunder (economic miracle) helped a long by the Marshal Plan. Socially, there was and continues to be a lot of open guilt about the Nazi past. They continue to support Israel financially and programs to repatriate Jews there.

  • The eastern part, though economically more prosperous than the rest of the communist nations was nowhere near as prosperous as the western European nations. It eventually became a paranoid police state.

  • in both parts, individuals with connections to the Nazi party were considered pariahs. As countries and business partners, the past was overlooked in the interest of economic development in both parts. But there is a natural tendency of individuals from countries victimized by Nazi Germany to have difficulty thinking well of Germany as a whole.

  • Because of awareness of this history, Germany, both the government and the citizens, is very pacifist and contrite.

  • The United Nations, formed immediately after WWII of most world countries, accepted both West and East Germany in 1973.


treatment was not consistent with the allies pretence of a moral high ground. a book by Giles MacDonogh "AFTER THE REICH" provides more than sufficient proof of harsh treatment of all Germans including women and children after WW2. Only when US leadership relized (1947/48) that the west will need strong Germany to set up a natural counterbalance against Soviet Russia's European ambitions was there a about turn to help (Marshall plan) and respectable treatment of all things German. Yet another example of general hypocricy of the west.

Mr. Mitch your assertion that 15mil Germans were removed from Bohemia is wildly incorrect, Bohemia did not contain even 10 mil population before WW2! Also Czechs went into a wild revenge mode and tortured and or killed aprox. 300000 Germans out of perhaps 3+ millions living in Bohemia pre-WW2


After WW2 Germany was out of young population, which pushed it to welcome many immigrants from other countries, and especially Turkey. Initially it was meant to keep this working class for a limited amount of time. However, things did not go as planned because of 2 main reasons:

  1. Post-war Germany had a high and increasing demand in working power. It would be more expensive to constantly invite new people, educate them, teach them the language and after a few years send them back.
  2. The immigrants mostly had a rural origins and they denied to return back to their home. Besides they were creating families and settling down.

Right now about 4 million people in Germany have Turkish origins.


Germany had an enormous war industry during the war. After the war this was turned into a civilian industry, as mentioned, largely to rebuild the country in the first years, but also eventually turning Germany into being a strong industry nation. Japan was also in a similar position.


I'm less interested in the standard answers to any question of effects of the War on Germany but more in the mass-psychological transformation of the population of the country. First, World War I shame and humiliation, then punishment and dismemberment of Germany when the Victors took territories, entire industries, and crippled the country from rebuilding.

Then, post-WW II, the punishment of the division of Germany into East and West, essentially creating two ideological systems with conflicting identities, with NO acknowledgement of German civilian suffering during the fire bombings and post-war massacres of ethnic Germans fleeing Central and Eastern Europe -- as if these never happened. And, of course, no claims on loss of farms, properties, wealth, even while everyone else is making claims on Germany for the same. Endlessly.

Then Reunification, when another radical transformation took place, a feeble, unsucessful attempt at recreating a unified psyche while consciousness of being "German" was tainted with the shame of the Holocaust, always emphasised in every documentary about the Hitler period, with blame squarely laid on the German people themselves, contrary to all claims there would be no "collective punishment" -- a lie if ever there was one.

So, now we end up with a collective psyche that is split (Left and Right-wing; socialism and neo-fascism), struggling with each other, while mass-immigration is diluting cultural values that could unite, but wont because many in the EU and elsewhere do not want a strong, united Germany. Add to this the low birth-rate which, effectively, will make Germans a minority in their own country within a half century. What do you end up with? No Germany at all.


How The Potsdam Conference Shaped The Future Of Post-War Europe

British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, American President Harry Truman and Soviet Premier Joseph Stalin at the Potsdam Conference, codenamed 'Terminal', on 23 July 1945.

The Potsdam Conference (17 July – 2 August 1945) was the last meeting of the ‘Big Three’ Allied leaders during the Second World War. At Yalta in February 1945, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, American President Franklin D Roosevelt and Soviet Premier Joseph Stalin had agreed to meet again following the defeat of Germany, principally to determine the borders of post-war Europe and deal with other outstanding problems.


Japan

The most spectacular increases in automotive production after World War II occurred in Japan. From a negligible position in 1950, Japan in 30 years moved past West Germany, France, Great Britain, and the United States to become the world’s leading automotive producer. Steadily growing export sales of Japan’s small, fuel-efficient cars played a major role in this achievement. During the late 1970s and early ’80s, Japan’s principal automakers— Toyota, Nissan, Honda, and Tōyō Kōgyō (later Mazda)—enjoyed impressive export gains in North American and western European markets. These companies as well as Mitsubishi, Isuzu, Fuji, and Suzuki later opened manufacturing plants in major markets outside Japan to ease trade tensions and increase their competitiveness as the value of Japan’s currency soared. By the 1980s Japan’s carmakers were seen as the models for others to emulate, especially for their “just-in-time” method of delivering components to the assembly plants (see Consolidation, below) and the use of statistical process controls for enhancing vehicle quality, which ironically had been developed in the 1950s by an American but rejected at the time by American manufacturers.

In the 1990s the Japanese economy suffered a severe and prolonged recession, and the complicated interlocking relationships and cross-ownerships between Japanese automakers and their major component manufacturers and banks imposed severe financial hardship. At the end of the 20th century, many Japanese automakers and several major component manufacturers were either controlled by or had joint operations with non-Japanese firms. Renault, for example, held a controlling interest in Nissan, and in 2016 Mitsubishi joined the Renault-Nissan alliance.


The Arcadia Conference: Europe First

Shortly after the US entrance into the war, the two leaders met again in Washington DC. Codenamed the Arcadia Conference, Roosevelt and Churchill held meetings between December 22, 1941, and January 14, 1942.

The key decision from this conference was agreement on a "Europe First" strategy for winning the war. Due to the proximity of many of the Allied nations to Germany, it was felt that the Nazis offered a greater threat.

While the majority of resources would be devoted to Europe, the Allies planned on fighting a holding battle with Japan. This decision met with some resistance in the United States as public sentiment favored exacting revenge on the Japanese for the attack on Pearl Harbor.

The Arcadia Conference also produced the Declaration by the United Nations. Devised by Roosevelt, the term "United Nations" became the official name for the Allies. Initially signed by 26 nations, the declaration called for the signatories to uphold the Atlantic Charter, employ all their resources against the Axis, and forbade nations from signing a separate peace with Germany or Japan.

The tenets set forth in the declaration became the basis for the modern United Nations, which was created after the war.


Theatre of the Absurd

The postwar mood of disillusionment and skepticism was expressed by a number of foreign playwrights living in Paris. Although they did not consider themselves as belonging to a formal movement, they shared a belief that human life was essentially without meaning or purpose and that valid communication was no longer possible. The human condition, they felt, had sunk to a state of absurdity (the term was used most prominently by the French Existentialist novelist and philosopher Albert Camus). Some of the first plays of the Theatre of the Absurd, as the school came to be called, were concerned with the devaluation of language: Eugène Ionesco’s Cantatrice chauve (The Bald Soprano, or The Bald Prima Donna) and Arthur Adamov’s Invasion (The Invasion), both produced in 1950, and Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot, first produced in French as En attendant Godot in 1953. Logical construction and rationalism were abandoned to create a world of uncertainty, where chairs could multiply for no apparent reason and humans could turn inexplicably into rhinoceroses. Later Absurdist writers included Harold Pinter of Great Britain and Edward Albee of the United States, though by the 1960s the movement had nearly burned itself out.


GCSE Revision booklet: Weimar and Nazi Germany (31 Pages)

Social consequences of the War

German society changed enormously as a result of the war. During the war the percentage of women in the workforce had risen to 37%, a massive rise. At the end of the war this figure did not fall dramatically, meaning that from now on women had a significant role to play in the German economy. The reaction of many Germans to the ending of the war also had a large impact on German Society. Many of the former soldiers were of the opinion that they had not lost the war, they believed that the army had been cheated. (Hitler later phrased this as ‘The Stab in the back’). As a consequence of this many Germans looked for people to blame. Some lay the blame in the hands of the Kaiser. Others, many others, looked to the new Government. They had immediately sued for peace and accepted the terms of the Armistice. For many Germans this showed that they were largely to blame. Other theories that were popular amongst the former soldiers were that it was the result of Communists or Jews. So in the immediate Post War era, there is a mass of suspicion within Germany. Combined with these factors is the potential threat to the social order. Under the Kaiser the armed forces and aristocratic Prussian elite had enjoyed many privileges. These groups now had to try and reestablish their authority. In a democracy this proves difficult and can lead to further tension. The first President of the Weimar republic, Ebert, worked hard to try and win the support of the elite groups. he wanted their support in order to maximise the stability of the new republic. Likewise he had to work hard to gain the support of the army, who in return needed his support if they were to survive as a significant political power in the years following the peace settlement.

Economic Consequences of the War

The economic consequences of the war were dire for Germany. This diagram illustrates the cost of the war for each of the major participants:

The cost during the war was bordering on $40 Billion. Consider the fact that there has been 85 years of inflation since this expenditure, in modern terms this figure would be closer to $1100 Billion (Source: http://eh.net/hmit/ppowerbp/pound_question.php).

The German economy had suffered terribly during the war. Industrial output fell by over 40% between 1914 and 1918. Machinery was, at the end of the war, obsolete in many cases, run by ill trained people – remember that millions of working men had been killed in the war. The workforce was not physically fit enough to work as hard as required as food shortages had been so bad that, “Germans ate dogs, crows, zoo animals and rodents, and even the front-line troops were reduced to meager portions of horse-meat.” Estimates suggest that up to 35% of all trade was organised illegally on the Black market. The economy also suffered from shortages of raw materials. From 1915 until the end of the war, Germans were forbidden to drive a car. The situation hardy improved as a result of the Armistice, the Germans hadn’t the means to purchase fuel on a large scale and found it difficult to purchase raw materials in any case as the international community shunned them as a consequence of the war.

Political impact of the war

This is the most obvious area of change. It signalled the end of the Second Reich. The war led to the Kaiser being forced into abdication. This left a power vacuum that was filled first by an Interim Government and then by the Weimar Republic. However there were other political consequences of the war that may be less obvious. The food shortages across Germany led to a radicalisation of peoples views. As a result extremist views, such as communism, became widely supported, particularly in the industrial cities. In 1919 there were several Left Wing uprisings The Spartacists attempting a revolution in Berlin and a short lived Soviet Republic was formed in Bavaria. The implications of these uprisings are great. The government was forced to make use of a body called the Freikorps. This group was made up of disillusioned soldiers, who were right wing in their beliefs. Some historians argue that the methods employed by the government at this early stage of its existence, led partially to the governments fall 14 years later.

Germany was extremely isolated at the end of the war. Trade was hard to come by as most of her previous trading partners now sunned Germany, preferring to do Business with the victorious Allies. Likewise the Germans struggled diplomatically, most notoriously their views were ignored at the Peace conference at Versailles.

Physical cost of the war

The cost of the First World War for Germany is estimated to be in the region of $38 Billion.

In addition to this consider the massive loss of life. Germany suffered the loss of 1.7 million young men, with another 4.3 million men being wounded during the conflict. The total casualties amounted to over 7 million, though this includes some men who were prisoners or listed as missing.


How the Treaty of Versailles and German Guilt Led to World War II

When Germany signed the armistice ending hostilities in the First World War on November 11, 1918, its leaders believed they were accepting a “peace without victory,” as outlined by U.S. President Woodrow Wilson in his famous Fourteen Points. But from the moment the leaders of the victorious Allied nations arrived in France for the peace conference in early 1919, the post-war reality began to diverge sharply from Wilson’s idealistic vision.

Five long months later, on June 28𠅎xactly five years after the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife in Sarajevo—the leaders of the Allied and associated powers, as well as representatives from Germany, gathered in the Hall of Mirrors at the Palace of Versailles to sign the final treaty. By placing the burden of war guilt entirely on Germany, imposing harsh reparations payments and creating an increasingly unstable collection of smaller nations in Europe, the treaty would ultimately fail to resolve the underlying issues that caused war to break out in 1914, and help pave the way for another massive global conflict 20 years later.

The Paris Peace Conference: None of the defeated nations weighed in, and even the smaller Allied powers had little say.
Formal peace negotiations opened in Paris on January 18, 1919, the anniversary of the coronation of German Emperor Wilhelm I at the end of the Franco-Prussian War in 1871. World War I had brought up painful memories of that conflict—which ended in German unification and its seizure of the provinces of Alsace and Lorraine from France𠅊nd now France intended to make Germany pay.

The 𠇋ig Four” leaders of the victorious Allied nations (Woodrow Wilson of the United States, David Lloyd George of Great Britain, Georges Clemenceau of France and, to a lesser extent, Vittorio Orlando of Italy) dominated the peace negotiations. None of the defeated nations were invited to weigh in, and even the smaller Allied powers had little say. Though the Versailles Treaty, signed with Germany in June 1919, was the most famous outcome of the Paris Peace Conference, the Allies also had separate treaties with Austria, Bulgaria, Hungary and Turkey, and the formal peacemaking process wasn’t concluded until the signing of the Treaty of Lausanne in July 1923.

Government Officials Drafting the Terms of the Treaty of Versailles. (Credit: Bettmann/Getty Images)

The treaty was lengthy, and ultimately did not satisfy any nation.
The Versailles Treaty forced Germany to give up territory to Belgium, Czechoslovakia and Poland, return Alsace and Lorraine to France and cede all of its overseas colonies in China, Pacific and Africa to the Allied nations. In addition, it had to drastically reduce its armed forces and accept the demilitarization and Allied occupation of the region around the Rhine River. Most importantly, Article 231 of the treaty placed all blame for inciting the war squarely on Germany, and forced it to pay several billion in reparations to the Allied nations.

Faced with the seemingly impossible task of balancing many competing priorities, the treaty ended up as a lengthy and confusing document that satisfied no one. “It literally is an attempt to remake Europe,” says Michael Neiberg, professor of history at U.S. Army War College and author of The Treaty of Versailles: A Concise History (2017). “I’m not one of those people who believes the treaty made the Second World War inevitable, but I think you could argue that it made Europe a less stable place.”

In Wilson’s vision of the post-war world, all nations (not just the losers) would reduce their armed forces, preserve the freedom of the seas and join an international peacekeeping organization called the League of Nations. But his fellow Allied leaders rejected much of his plan as naive and too idealistic. The French, in particular, wanted Germany to pay a heavy price for the war, including loss of territory, disarmament and payment of reparations, while the British saw Wilson’s plan as a threat to their supremacy in Europe.

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Aside from affecting Germany, the Treaty of Versailles might have caused the Great Depression.
Many people, even at the time, agreed with the British economist John Maynard Keynes that Germany could not possibly pay so much in reparations without severe risks to the entire European economy. In his later memoir, U.S. President Herbert Hoover went so far as to blame reparations for causing the Great Depression.

But though most Germans were furious about the Treaty of Versailles, calling it a Diktat (dictated peace) and condemning the German representatives who signed it as “November criminals” who had stabbed them in the back, in hindsight it seems clear that the treaty turned out to be far more lenient than its authors might have intended. “Germany ended up not paying anywhere near what the treaty said Germany should pay,” Neiberg says, adding that hardly anyone had expected Germany to be able to pay the entire amount.

And despite the loss of German territory, “there were plenty of people who understood as early as 1919 that the map actually gave Germany some advantages,” Neiberg points out. “It put small states on Germany’s borders, in eastern and central Europe. It eliminated Russia as a direct enemy of Germany, at least in the 1920s, and it removed Russia as an ally of France. So while the treaty looked really harsh to some people, it actually opened up opportunities for others.”

The war guilt clause was more problematic. “You have to go back to 1914, when most Germans believed they had entered the war because Russia had mobilized its army,” explains Neiberg. “To most Germans in 1919, and not just those on the right, blaming Germany specifically for the war made no sense. Especially when they did not put a war guilt clause on Austria-Hungary, which you could reasonably argue were the people that actually started this.”

The first informal meeting of the League of Nations in Geneva. (Credit: Bettmann Archive/Getty Images)

New European borders, the League of Nations and Germany reparations.
Taken as a whole, the treaties concluded after World War I redrew the borders of Europe, carving up the former Austro-Hungarian Empire into states like Yugoslavia, Poland and Czechoslovakia. As Neiberg puts it: “Whereas in 1914, you had a small number of great powers, after 1919 you have a larger number of smaller powers. That meant that the balance of power was less stable.”

The Versailles Treaty had also included a covenant for the League of Nations, the international organization that Woodrow Wilson had envisioned would preserve peace among the nations of Europe and the world. But the U.S. Senate ultimately refused to ratify the Versailles Treaty due to its opposition to the League, which left the organization seriously weakened without U.S. participation or military backing.

Meanwhile, Germany’s economic woes, exacerbated by the burden of reparations and general European inflation, destabilized the Weimar Republic, the government established at the end of the war. Due to lasting resentment of the Versailles Treaty, the National Socialist (Nazi) Party and other radical right-wing parties were able to gain support in the 1920s and early �s by promising to overturn its harsh provisions and make Germany into a major European power once again.

The Versailles Treaty made World War II possible, not inevitable.
In 1945, when the leaders of the United States, Great Britain and Soviet Union met at Potsdam, they blamed the failures of the Versailles Treaty for making another great conflict necessary, and vowed to right the wrongs of their peacekeeping predecessors. But Neiberg, like many historians, takes a more nuanced view, pointing to events other than the treaty—including the United States not joining the League of Nations and the rise of the Stalinist regime in the Soviet Union𠅊s necessary elements in understanding the path to the Second World War.

“In my own personal view as a historian, you need to be really careful directly connecting events that happened 20 years apart,” he says. 𠇊 different treaty produces a different outcome, yes. But you shouldn’t draw inevitability. It’s part of the recipe, but it’s not the only ingredient.”


Bernard Wasserstein was born in London and educated at Oxford University. He is now professor of modern history at the University of Chicago. His books include Britain and the Jews of Europe, 1939-1945 (Clarendon Press, 1988), Vanishing Diaspora: The Jews in Europe since 1945 (Harvard University Press, 1997) and Israel and Palestine (Profile Books/Yale University Press, 2004).

Bernard Wasserstein was born in London and educated at Oxford University. He is now professor of modern history at the University of Chicago. His books include Britain and the Jews of Europe, 1939-1945 (Clarendon Press, 1988), Vanishing Diaspora: The Jews in Europe since 1945 (Harvard University Press, 1997) and Israel and Palestine (Profile Books/Yale University Press, 2004).


Postwar politics

Changes in world politics proved to be very important in the years after World War II. The United States and Russia were allies

The United States and the Soviet Union were so opposed to each other that each suspected the other of seeking to control the world. As soon as World War II ended tensions grew between the two countries, called superpowers because they were the strongest countries to emerge from the war. Both countries developed powerful nuclear weapons that they could use to destroy the other. Both countries created huge armies and posted them near each other's borders. They began to spy on each other, and they tried to convince other countries to join with them against the other. They created a world in which countries had to choose sides and join with the capitalist West or the Communists. Their conflict, which lasted until the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, was called the Cold War, and it dominated the world politics of the era. In the capitalist West economies boomed and people enjoyed access to a range of consumer goods, including fashionable clothes and shoes in the Communist world people lived in very basic conditions and cared little about such luxuries as fashion. For example, in Communist China, all people were required to wear simple clothing to show that there were no differences in social class. Fashionable attire in the postwar world was only made in capitalist countries, making the West the center of fashion between 1946 and 1960.


What Were the Causes and Effects of World War II?

The main cause of World War II was the rise of the Nazi Party in Germany and its subsequent invasion of other countries. The causes can be linked back to World War I. The main effects of WWII include the Cold War, occupation of territories and the widespread destruction in Western Europe.

After World War I, Germany fell into a depression, which left the country ripe and ready for a new government regime to come in. The Nazi Party filled that gap and brought the country out of its depression. To do this, they put blame on marginalized groups, such as Jewish and gay citizens. This was the beginning of the Holocaust, and the Nazi Party eventually pushed out of the country into surrounding nations, officially starting the war. There was also worldwide depression, which gave rise to dictators in both Japan and Italy, the two other main antagonists of the war.

After the war, the Allies split Germany into different territories for occupation. Other Axis countries were occupied as well, but the German split is the best known. The split between Western Germany, which was occupied by Western European countries and the United States, and Eastern Germany, occupied by Russia, was enforced by the Berlin Wall. This split was also the beginning of the Cold War, during which the United States and Russia rushed to develop weapons and space technology.

Western Europe was devastated because of the heavy bombings throughout the war, and this led to a long period of rebuilding. The United States played a large role in helping these countries rebuild.