Topic 1: Causes, practices and effects of war

5. Assess the social results of two wars, each chosen from a different region.

Cam Nguyen

World War 1 and World War 2, though erupted years part, both significantly changed the economy and the way the people perceived their governments and the international world.

World War 1—Germany
• Devastated economy due to the war and heavy war reparations plagued the population.
o The cost of the war caused industrial outputs to decrease significantly.
o Food shortages consequently occurred at a high rate.
o About two million young men were killed by the war, and millions more wounded by it.
• German pride was crushed, which eventually led to Hitler’s rise to power.
o Many of German veterans felt that they had not lost the war. They believed that the army had been cheated—by the Treaty of Versailles especially. Germany had to accept full responsibility for the war. It must give up certain territories, disarm, and pay war reparations to the Entente powers. A majority of Germany's source of iron, steel, and coal manufacturers were taken away. Its oversea territories were also lost. This angered Germans and compelled them to seek revenge decades later. Hitler were able to use the treaty as the main source of his rhetoric.

World War 2—the United States
• Booming economy allowed the U. S. to get out of depression and restored faith in the government. The role of the government in the economy and social life also increased.
o In 1940, there were 8 million Americans unemployed. During the war, unemployment nearly vanished.
o Standard of living and the number of women entering the workforce also increased.
o It also allowed more money to be spent in medical research -> polio vaccine
o The population enjoyed an increase in leisure time -> growth of sports, reading, entertainment, etc. Active social lifestyle flourished.
o Discontent from the Great Depression had gradually diminished and forgotten. Americans were willing to conserve and recycle materials such as metal, paper, and rubber for wartime production and cut back on consumer goods. They also bough war bonds. After the war was over, industries returned to consumer production, and Americans went out and bought goods uncontrollably—which significantly fueled the post-war economy.
• The belief in American superiority is born in Americans’ minds, and this belief allowed the government to change the course of non-interventionist foreign policies as the United States approached a more active role in international affairs.
o The U. S. defeated Germany and Japan. The young nation possessed the world’s most powerful and dangerous weapon of mass destruction, and it emerged as “savior of the world” and a superpower (replacing Britain and France)-> the government and the people discarded isolationist foreign policies and adapted a more global thinking.
o e. g., Marshall Plan, search for over-sea markets, helping Europe cope with post-war problems, involvement in Berlin, involvement in the Korean War (Truman), Bay of Pigs/Nicaragua/Chile (Kennedy) and the Vietnam War (Kennedy—Nixon), increasing focus on technological development in order to keep the country’s place as a superpower, etc. [Elaborate on one or two of the listed, and make sure that you focus on the people’s role to make the argument more social, rather than political.]

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