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Lloyd Sealy Library
John Jay College of Criminal Justice

History: World War One and World War Two: Aftermath of World War Two

Guide for Library Research on World War One and World War Two

Warsaw Uprising

Warsaw Uprising

Surrender of Polish Warsaw Uprising Resistance 1944

On August 1 1944 the Polish Home Army resistance began an uprising to liberate Warsaw from the Germans. The uprising was started as the Soviet army approached the city and was expecting help from the Soviets against the Germans. However the Soviets stopped short and allowed the Germans to destroy Warsaw and wipe out the resistance. The resistance lasted from August until October 1944.

The Warsaw Uprising of 1944 should not be confused with the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising of 1943. The 1943 uprising was launched by poorly armed and desperate Jewish fighters as German troops and police entered the ghetto to deport surviving inhabitants to death camps. The Warsaw Ghetto Uprising lasted a month, from April to May 1943 and was crushed by the Germans.

Churchill Out

Churchill Out

Winston Churchill Giving V for Victory Sign 1945

In the British elections of July 1945, Winston Churchill and his Conservative party were shockingly thrown out of office and a landslide was given to Clement Attlee's Labor Party.

Creation of UN

Creation of UN

Signing of the UN Charter 1945

The United Nations was established in October 1945 as a replacement for the League of Nations, to promote international cooperation and prevent conflict. It has been a complete and total failure.

Partition of India

Partition of India

In August 1947 the British colony of India was partitioned and became two independent countries - India and Pakistan. (A third country - Bangeladesh - would be formed out of Pakistan in 1971.) The partition of India led to bloody riots and massive displacement as populations were displaced. Fourteen million people are said to have been displaced in the largest mass movement of people in history. India was formed out of the majority Hindu areas of British India while Pakistan was formed out of the majority Muslim areas. India and Pakistan still have territorial disputes over Kashmir that date to the partition era and have remained hostile adversaries who have fought several wars against each other.

Israel Reborn

Israel Reborn

David Ben Gurion Declares the Establishment of the State of Israel May 14 1948

In the 1880s Jews mainly though not exclusively in Eastern Europe began the Zionist movement with the goal of reestablishing a Jewish homeland in the Holy Land where the Biblical Kingdoms and Jewish Temple had existed in order to escape massive persecution in Europe and the Middle East. During World War One, the British signaled that they were willing to help to establish such a homeland and in 1921 the British were given a Mandate over the territory of the Holy Land to do so. They promptly began to do everything in their power to prevent Jewish immigration and settlement. With the rise of Nazism and World War Two about to start, most countries shut their doors to Jewish refugees. The British shut the door to the Mandate, severely limiting Jewish immigration to the area and condemning many who could have been saved to die in Nazi Europe. After World War Two ended the British dumped the problem in the hands of the United Nations where it was decided that the territory should be partitioned between a Jewish and Arab state. 

On May 14 1948 the Jewish leadership declared the creation of the State of Israel. It was immediately recognized by both the United States and the Soviet Union. The neighboring Arab countries invaded, begining the Israeli War of Independence. This war would continue until the defeat of the invading Arab forces and the agreement of armstice lines that would form the first borders of the new country in 1949. No Arab state was created as its territory was annexed by Jordan and Egypt. The conflict between Israel and its neighbors would continue to this day with several wars being fought, although it has signed peace treaties with both Egypt in 1978 and Jordan in 1994.

Communist China

Communist China

Mao Zedung Declares the Establishment of the People's Republic of China October 1949

In China World War Two basically begins in 1937 with the direct invasion of the Chinese mainland by Japan and the devastation of cities like Shanghai and Nanking. During this period, China was officially a republic ruled by Chiang Kai-Shek and his Kuomintang army but was in reality split between different factions who operated like warlords. At this time the communists under Mao Zedung were one of the factions. In the aftermath of the surrender of Japan, a civil war broke out between Mao's communist forces and Chiang Kai-Shek's Kuomintang. By 1949 Chiang Kai-Shek's forces had been forced to retreat to Taiwan and the communists had complete control over the mainland. On October 1st 1949 Mao declared the creation of a People's Republic.

Death Toll

Death Toll

The City of Warsaw in 1945

The death toll of the Second World War ranges from 50-80 million people though most historians settle around the number of 60 million people. In addition 6 million Jews were murdered by the Germans in the Holocaust.

Nuremberg Trials

Nuremberg Trials

After the war, some of those responsible for crimes committed during the Holocaust were brought to trial. Nuremberg, Germany, was chosen as a site for trials that took place in 1945 and 1946. Judges from the Allied powers -- Great Britain, France, the Soviet Union, and the United States -- presided over the hearings of twenty-two major Nazi criminals.

Twelve prominent Nazis were sentenced to death. Most of the defendants admitted to the crimes of which they were accused, although most claimed that they were simply following the orders of a higher authority. Many more criminals were never tried. Some fled Germany to live abroad. After Nuremberg trials of Nazis continued to take place both in Germany and many other countries. Adolf Eichmann, who had helped plan and carry out the deportations of millions of Jews, was brought to trial in Israel in 1961. The testimony of hundreds of witnesses, many of them survivors, was followed all over the world. Eichmann was found guilty and executed in 1962

 

USHMM Nuremberg Trials

Yad Vashem Nuremberg Trials

Jewish Virtual Library Nuremberg Trials

Occupation and Partition of Germany

Occupation and Partition of Germany

At the Yalta Conference in 1944 and then at the Potsdamn Conference in 1945 the Allied powers decided that Germany would be split into occupational zones, that there would be border adjustments, and that Germans living in Eastern Europe would be relocated to Germany proper. All of Germany east of the Oder River was reassigned to Poland as compensation for territory that Poland gave to the Soviets.

Prussia, which had been the state that unified modern Germany and whose territory was now almost entirely given over to Poland was dissolved by an order of the Allied powers in 1947. The three Allied zones in the west would eventually be consolidated to form West Germany while the Soviet controlled eastern zone became East Germany. They would remain two separate countries until 1990.

Occupation and Reconstruction of Japan

Occupation and Reconstruction of Japan

General Douglas MacArthur and Emperor Hirohito

Following the surrender of Japan, the United States occupied the country and helped to transform it into a democracy with a pacifist constitution. The occupation was ended by the San Francisco Peace Treaty, signed on September 8, 1951 and effective from April 28, 1952.

Population Displacement

Population Displacement

Map of Czech Sudetenland German Population

In the pre-war period, Germany used the claim that it had national rights to control any territory with German population in it. This was how the Germans were able to justify their claim to the Czech territory of Sudetenland. Also during the war, the Germans made every effort to settle territories in countries they conquered, especially in the east, with Germans. At Yalta and then Potsdamn, the Allies decided that ethnically homogenous states would prevent future wars from breaking out and agreed that Germans in the east should be resettled in Germany proper.

In addition, nations that had suffered under the brutal cruelty of the Germans and who had been assigned or had recovered territory from Germany did not want a German population to remain within their borders. These populations were expelled and eventually resettled in Germany proper. In particular, the Czech's expelled all Germans from the Sudetenland and the Poles did so from Prussia and Silesia.

Germans were far from the only people to be relocated. There was a mass movement of peoples across not just Europe but the whole world that would not settle down until the 1950s. 

Iron Curtain

Iron Curtain

The Iron Curtain was a term coined by Winston Churchill in a speech given in 1946 where he symbolized the divide between the Eastern Soviet Bloc and Western American Bloc as:

"From Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic an "Iron Curtain" has descended across the continent. Behind that line lie all the capitals of the ancient states of Central and Eastern Europe. Warsaw, Berlin, Prague, Vienna, Budapest, Belgrade, Bucharest and Sofia; all these famous cities and the populations around them lie in what I must call the Soviet sphere, and all are subject, in one form or another, not only to Soviet influence but to a very high and in some cases increasing measure of control from Moscow."

The Iron Curtain would continue to exist until the collapse of the Soviet Union and the Soviet Bloc in 1991.

Creation of NATO

Creation of NATO

NATO or the North Atlantic Treaty Organization is a military alliance created in 1949. The idea was "to keep the Russians out, the Americans in, and the Germans down." Member states agree to mutual defense in case of an attack on any member by an external party.

Marshall Plan

Marshall Plan

Following the end of World War Two, the whole of Europe was a wreck and there was a fear that in the chaos and destruction, that the newly freed states would elect communist governments. To prevent this the United States decided to give aid to Europe. This plan, officially called the European Recovery Program, was nicknamed the Marshall Plan. The United States would eventually give 17 billion dollars (in 1940s dollars) to the reconstruction of Europe.

The Cold War

The Cold War

The Cold War was the name given to the period from 1947 to 1991 when the United States led a capitalist western bloc against the Soviet Union and its communist eastern bloc. This period was marked by fierce tension as the Soviets sought to turn the world communist and the United States tried to contain the communists. The Cold War nearly led to a nuclear war in 1962 and only ended with the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.

Long Telegram

Long Telegram

George F. Kennan 

George Kennan was an American diplomat who developed the policy of "Containment" which was the Western strategy for dealing with the Soviet Union for the bulk of the Cold War. He detailed his Containment idea in a document that eventually became known as "The Long Telegram". 

Containment Policy

Containment Policy

The Containment policy was developed by George Kennan as a way to deal with Soviet aggression and expansionism without having an outright war which following 1945 would have certainly involved atomic weapons. The main point of this policy was to contain the spread of communism and make sure that it did not move beyond the area of the globe it contained at the end of World War Two. Part of this policy was to actively back any force that was against communism in any country that was under threat of communist subversion.

Greek Civil War

Greek Civil War

From 1946 to 1949 Greece had a civil war as Greek communists tried to take over the country. The Greek civil war was one of the driving factors behind the creation of the Truman Doctrine.

Truman Doctrine

Truman Doctrine

The Truman Doctrine was the implementation of the policy of containment as articulated by President Harry Truman. Under the Truman Doctrine the United States pledged to contain communism by giving economic and military support to any country whose stability was threatened by communism.

Berlin Airlift 1948

Berlin Airlift 1948

Aircraft over Berlin during the Blockade 1948

When Germany was split into separate occupational zones at the end of World War Two, Berlin was also split into separate zones. However Berlin as a whole was completely inside the Soviet occupational zone. In 1948 the Soviets blockaded West Berlin and the Allies decided to airlift supplies to the city rather than challenge the blockade with war. No one wanted a war and the Soviets did not disrupt the airlift which continued until May 1949 when the Soviets lifted the Blockade.

Warsaw Pact

Warsaw Pact

The Warsaw Pact was the communist version of NATO. It was created in reaction to West Germany joining NATO in 1955. It dissolved itself in 1991. Most of its members are now members of NATO and the European Union.

Korean War

Korean War

38th Parallel of Korea

Following the end of World War Two, the communists were in control of the northern part of Korea while the United States was in control of the southern half. In 1948 both sides formed governments in their respective sections but tensions remained and boiled over when the communist north invaded the south in June 1950. The United States, leading a UN force, fought to repel the invasion. The war went through several phases where each side almost completely conquered the territory of the other until by 1953 the conflict reached a stalemate and a ceasefire was reached. Officially the Korean war has not ended yet.

Death of Stalin

Death of Stalin

Joseph Stalin Lying in State 1953

Following the death of Lenin in 1924, Joseph Stalin maneuvered himself into power and became absolute dictator of the Soviet Union, a position he would hold until his death on March 5 1953. At the time of his death from a cerebral hemorrhage, he was in the process of creating a new Great Terror to repeat his purge of 1937-1938. He would be replaced by Nikita Khrushchev.