Three days after the destruction of Hiroshima, Robert Stone wrote two letters to Stafford Warren's deputy, and Stone's former student, Hymer Friedell. The first expressed hope that the contribution of medical researchers could now be made public, so that people would know what they had done during the war.

The second letter described Stone's "mixed feelings" at the success that had been achieved and his fear that the lingering effects of radiation from the bomb had been underestimated: "I could hardly believe my eyes," Stone wrote, "when I saw a series of news releases said to be quoting Oppenheimer, and giving the impression that there is no radioactive hazard. Apparently all things are relative."

Friedell and other researchers, including Stafford Warren and Shields Warren, soon traveled to Hiroshima and Nagasaki to begin what became an extensive research program on survivors. The data from that project quickly became and still remain the essential source of information on the long-term effects of radiation on populations of human beings.

It was not long, however, before there were additional real-life data on the bomb, from postwar atomic tests. In 1946, the United States undertook the first peacetime nuclear weapons tests at Bikini Atoll in the Marshall Islands. Operation Crossroads, conducted before journalists and VIPs from around the world, was intended to test the ability of a flotilla of unmanned ships to withstand the blast. Since most of the ships remained afloat, the Navy declared Crossroads a triumph.

Behind the scenes, however, Crossroads medical director Stafford Warren expressed horror at the level of contamination on the ships due to the underwater atomic blast. When the ships returned to the West Coast from the Pacific, they were extensively studied to assess the damage and contamination from the atomic bombs.

The government created the Naval Radiological Defense Laboratory (NRDL) to study the effects of atomic bombs on ships and to design ways to protect them. "Crossroads," according to an NRDL history, "left no doubt that man was faced with the necessity for coping with strange and unprecedented problems for which no solutions were available."

Hiroshima and Nagasaki, it now seemed, were only the beginning, not the end, of human exposure to bomb-produced radiation. As Crossroads confirmed with the lingering problem of contaminated ships, what the bomb did not obliterate it might still damage by radiation over the course of days or years. It was no longer enough to know about the effects of radioactive materials on American nuclear weapons workers; now there was the urgent need to understand the effects on American soldiers, sailors, and even citizens as well.

Largely invisible to the public, an ad hoc bureaucracy sprang up to address the medical and radiation research problems of atomic warfare. This bureaucracy brought together former wartime radiation researchers, who were joined by junior colleagues, to advise, and participate in, the government's growing radiation research program. Other, already established groups--such as the AEC's Division of Biology and Medicine and its advisory committee--also had important places in the new network.

Beyond considering fallout from the testing of atomic bombs, these groups also looked at how radiation itself might be used as a weapon. During the war, scientists like J. Robert Oppenheimer had speculated on the possibility that fission products (radioactive materials produced by the bomb or by reactors) could be dispersed in the air and on the ground to kill or incapacitate the enemy. In 1946, the widespread contamination of ships at Crossroads by radioactive mist gave dramatic evidence of the potential of so-called radiological warfare, or RW. In 1947, the military created a committee of experts to study the problem.

The following year, a blue-ribbon panel of physicians and physicists looked at the prospects, both offensive and defensive, of what the Pentagon termed "Rad War." The work of these panels would lead to dozens of intentional releases of radiation into the environment at the Army's Dugway, Utah, testing grounds from the late 1940s to the early 1950s. The very fact that the government was engaged in RW tests was a secret. Indeed, the records of the RW program--including, as we shall see in chapter 11, the debate on what the public should be told about the program--would remain largely secret for almost fifty years.

In 1949, a military program to build a nuclear-powered airplane led to a set of proposed human radiation experiments. The NEPA (Nuclear Energy for the Propulsion of Aircraft) program had its origins in 1946 as a venture that included the Manhattan Project's Oak Ridge site, the military, and private aircraft manufacturers. Robert Stone, as we shall see in chapter 8, was a leading proponent of experiments involving healthy volunteers, as a key to answering questions about the radiation hazard faced by the crew of the proposed airplane.

The NEPA and RW groups considered important, but still discrete, projects. Where did the "big picture" discussions take place? The Advisory Committee has pieced together the records of the Armed Forces Medical Policy Council, the Committee on Medical Sciences, and the Joint Panel on the Medical Aspects of Atomic Warfare. These three Defense Department groups, all chaired by civilian doctors, guided the government on both the broad subject of military-related biomedical research and the new and special problems posed by atomic warfare.

If the surviving records are an indication, from its creation in 1949 to its evident demise with the reorganization of the Defense Department in 1953, the Joint Panel quickly became the hub of atomic warfare-related biomedical research. The Joint Panel gathered information about relevant research from all corners of the government, provided guidance for Defense Department programs, and reviewed and coordinated policy in the matter of human experimentation using atomic energy.

By charter, the group was to be headed by a civilian. Harvard's Dr. Joseph Aub, a long-standing member of the Boston-based medical research community who had worked with Robley Evans on the study of the radium dial painters and had also studied lead toxicity, served as chair. Those who served with Aub included Evans, Hymer Friedell, and Louis Hempelmann, Oppenheimer's Manhattan Project medical aide. Other government participants came from the AEC, the Public Health Service, the National Institutes of Health, the Veterans Administration, and the CIA. (The charter provided that the Joint Panel should collect information on relevant research conducted abroad, which the CIA evidently provided.)

This bureaucracy provided the venue for secret discussions that linked the arts of healing and war in ways that had little precedent. At one and the same time, for example, doctors counseled the military about the radiation risk to troops at the site of atomic bomb tests, advised on the need for research on the "psychology of panic" at such bomb tests, and debated the need for rules to govern atomic warfare-related experimentation.

The records of the Joint Panel show that, during the height of the Cold War, the resources of civilian agencies were part of the mobilization of resources to serve national security interests. For example, Dr. Howard Andrews, trained as a physicist, was the National Institutes of Health's representative to the Joint Panel, and in the 1950s he worked with the DOD and the AEC in monitoring safety measures and measuring fallout from nuclear tests.

In 1950 President Truman ordered federal agencies, including the Public Health Service and NIH, to focus their resources on activities that would benefit national security needs. On paper, at least, PHS and NIH policymakers sought to direct resources to questions of radiation injury, civil defense, and worker health and safety.

For example, a 1952 internal planning memo explained that NIH "will not wait for formal requests by the armed forces . . . to undertake research which NIH staff knows to be of urgent military and civilian defense significance. Limited selective conversion of research to work directly related to biological warfare, shock, radiation injury and thermal burns will begin immediately. . . ." The fragmentary surviving documentation, however, does not show the extent to which PHS- and NIH-funded researchers actually redirected their investigations or merely recast the purpose of ongoing work.

Blockade of Germany

Throughout the armistice the Allies maintained the naval blockade of Germany that had begun during the war. As Germany was dependent on imports, it is estimated that 750,000 civilians had lost their lives during the war, and more died from starvation afterwards.

The continuation of the blockade after the fighting ended, as Robert Leckie wrote in Delivered From Evil, did much to "torment the Germans… driving them with the fury of despair into the arms of the devil." Terms of the Armistice did allow food to be shipped into Germany, but Allies required that Germany provide the ships. The German government was required to use its gold reserves, being unable to secure a loan from the United States. Some historians have argued that the slow food shipments in early 1919 was one of the primary causes of World War II; others have advocated the Allies should have been even harder on Germany.

The blockade was not lifted until late June 1919 when the Treaty of Versailles was signed by most of the combatant nations.

Treaty of Versailles

After the Paris Peace Conference of 1919, the signing of the Treaty of Versailles on June 28, 1919 officially ended the war. Included in the 450 articles of the treaty were the demands that Germany officially accept responsibility for starting the war and pay heavy economic reparations. Germany itself was not included in the negotiations of the treaty and was forced to sign it (the alternative was continuing the war which would have probably led to a total occupation of Germany), which caused humiliation in the German people as the blame was shifted on them. The treaty was only concerning Germany, other treaties were made for different countries soon after. The treaty also included a clause to create the League of Nations. The US Senate never ratified this treaty and the US did not join the League, despite President Woodrow Wilson's active campaigning in support of the League. The United States negotiated a separate peace with Germany, finalized in August 1921.

Influenza epidemic

A separate but related event was the great influenza pandemic. A virulent new strain of the flu first observed in the United States but misleadingly known as the "Spanish flu", was accidentally carried to Europe by infected American forces personnel. One in every four Americans had contracted the influenza virus. The disease spread rapidly through both the continental U.S. and Europe, eventually reaching around the globe, partially because many were weakened and exhausted by the famines of the World War. The exact number of deaths is unknown but about 50 million people are estimated to have died from the influenza outbreak worldwide. In 2005, a study found that, "The 1918 virus strain developed in birds and was similar to the 'bird flu' that today has spurred fears of another worldwide epidemic, yet proved to be a normal treatable virus that did not produce a heavy impact on the world's health.

Geopolitical and economic consequences

There were some general consequences from the creation of a large number of new small states in eastern Europe. Internally these states tended to have substantial ethnic minorities, who looked to a neighbouring state where their ethnicity dominated the state. For example Czechoslovakia had Germans, Poles, Ruthenians and Ukrainians, Slovaks and Hungarians. Minority Treaties expressed an, albeit inadequate, attempt to deal with this problem. One consequence of the massive redrawing of borders and the political changes in the aftermath of war was the large number of European refugees. This led to the creation of the Nansen passport.

Ethnic minorities made the location of the frontiers generally unstable. Where the frontiers have remain unchanged, since 1918, there has often been the expulsion of an ethnic group, such as the Sudeten Germans. Economic and military cooperation amongst these small states was minimal ensuring that the defeated powers of Germany and the Soviet Union retained a latent capacity to dominate the region. In the immediate aftermath of the war, defeat drove cooperation between Germany and the Soviet Union but ultimately these two powers would compete to dominate eastern Europe.


Political divisions of Europe in 1919 after the treaties of Brest-Litovsk and Versailles and before the treaties of Trianon, Kars, Riga and the creation of Soviet Union and the republics of Ireland and Turkey.

Perhaps the single most important event precipitated by the privations of World War I was the Russian Revolution of 1917. A socialist and often explicitly Communist revolutionary wave occurred in many other European countries from 1917 onwards, notably in Germany and Hungary.

As a result of the Russian Provisional Governments' failure to cede territory, German and Austrian forces defeated the Russian armies, and the new communist government signed the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk in March 1918. In that treaty, Russia renounced all claims to Estonia, Finland, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland (specifically, the formerly Russian-controlled Congress Poland of 1815) and Ukraine, and it was left to Germany and Austria-Hungary "to determine the future status of these territories in agreement with their population." Later on, Lenin's government renounced also the Partition of Poland treaty, making it possible for Poland to claim its 1772 borders. However, the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk was rendered obsolete when Germany was defeated later in 1918, leaving the status of much of eastern Europe in an uncertain position.


Main article: German Revolution

There was a socialist revolution which led to the brief establishment of a number of communist political systems in (mainly urban) parts of Germany, the abdication of the Kaiser, and the creation of the Weimar Republic. On 28 June 1919, Germany was not present to sign the Treaty of Versailles. The treaty placed blame for the entire war upon Germany (a view never accepted by German nationalists but argued by, inter alia, German historian Fritz Fischer). Germany was forced to pay £6.6 billion in reparations (a very large amount for its day which would have taken nearly seventy years to pay off). Because Germany could mobilise the single strongest army in Europe (apart from Russia)--a possibility seen as an ongoing threat by France--blaming Germany for the war created a justification to force Germany to permanently reduce the size of its army to 100,000 men, renounce tanks and have no air force (her capital ships were also sent to Scapa Flow). Germany saw relatively small amounts of territory transferred to Denmark, Czechoslovakia, and Belgium, relatively large amounts to France and Poland, and its overseas colonies to a number of other countries. Nazi propaganda would feed on a general nationalist view that the treaty was unfair--many Germans never accepted the treaty as legitimate, and later gave their political support to Adolf Hitler, who was arguably the first national politician to both speak out and take action against the treaty's conditions.

Russian Empire

Russia, already suffering socially and economically, was torn by a deadly civil war that left more than 5.5 million people dead and large areas of the country devastated.

During the Russian Revolution of 1917 and subsequent Russian Civil War, many non-Russian nations gained brief or longer lasting periods of independence. Finland, Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia gained relatively permanent independence, although the Baltic states were annexed by the Soviet Union in 1940. Armenia, Georgia, and Azerbaijan were established as independent states in the Caucasus region. In 1922 these countries were invaded by Soviet forces, proclaimed as Soviet Republics, and eventually absorbed into the Soviet Union. However, Turkey had by then captured Armenian territory around Artvin, Kars, and Igdir: these territorial losses would become permanent. Romania was initially formed from the union of Wallachia and Moldova and later gained Bessarabia from Russia. After World War I, the Soviet Union was fortunate that Germany had lost the war as it was able to reject the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk.


With the war having turned decisively against the Central Powers, the peoples of Austria-Hungary lost faith in their allied countries, and even before the armistice in November, radical nationalism had already led to several declarations of independence in south-central Europe in the time after November 1918 was not easy. As the central government had ceased to operate in vast areas, these regions found themselves without a government and many new groups attempted to fill the void. During this same period, the population was facing food shortages and was, for the most part, demoralized by the losses incurred during the war. Various political parties, ranging from ardent nationalists, to social-democrats, to communists attempted to set up governments in the names of the different nationalities. In other areas, existing nation states such as Romania engaged regions that they considered to be theirs. These moves created de-facto governments that complicated life for diplomats, idealists, and the western allies.

The western allies were officially supposed to occupy the old Empire, but rarely had enough troops to do so effectively. They had to deal with local authorities who had their own agenda to fulfill. At the peace conference in Paris the diplomats had to reconcile these authorities with the competing demands of the nationalists who had turned to them for help during the war, the strategic or political desires of the Western allies themselves, and other agendas such as a desire to implement the spirit of the 14 points.

For example, in order to live up to the ideal of self determination laid out in the 14 points, Germans, whether Austrian or German, should be able to decide their own future and government. However, the French especially were concerned that an expanded Germany would be a huge security risk. Further complicating the situation, delegations such as the Czechs and Slovenians made strong claims on some German-speaking territories.

The result was treaties that compromised many ideals, offended many allies, and set up an entirely new order in the area. Many people hoped that the new nation states would allow for a new era of prosperity and peace in the region, free from the bitter quarrelling between nationalities that had marked the preceding fifty years. This hope proved far too optimistic. Changes in territorial configuration after World War I included:

   * Establishment of the Republic of German Austria and the Hungarian Democratic Republic, disavowing any continuity with the empire and exiling the Habsburg family in perpetuity.
   * Borders of newly independent Hungary did not include two-thirds of the lands of the former Kingdom of Hungary, including large areas where the ethnic Magyars were in a majority. The new republic of Austria maintained control over most of the mostly German-dominated areas, but lost various other German majority lands in what was the Austrian Empire.

Division of Austria-Hungary after World War I. Border of Austria-Hungary in 1914 Borders in 1914 Borders in 1920 Empire of Austria in 1914 Kingdom of Hungary in 1914 Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1914

   * Bohemia, Moravia, Opava Silesia and the western part of Duchy of Cieszyn, Slovakia and Carpathian Ruthenia formed the new Czechoslovakia.
   * Galicia, eastern part of Duchy of Cieszyn, northern County of Orava and northern Spisz was transferred to Poland.
   * Bolzano-Bozen and Trieste were granted to Italy.
   * Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia-Slavonia, Dalmatia, Slovenia, and Vojvodina were joined with Serbia to form the Kingdom of the Serbs, Croats and Slovenes, later Yugoslavia.
   * Transylvania and Bukovina became parts of Romania.

These changes were recognized in, but not caused by, the Treaty of Versailles. They were subsequently further elaborated in the Treaty of Saint-Germain and the Treaty of Trianon.

The new states of eastern Europe nearly all had large national minorities. Millions of Germans found themselves in the newly created countries as minorities. One third of ethnic Hungarians found themselves living outside of Hungary. Many of these national minorities found themselves in bad situations because the modern governments were intent on defining the national character of the countries, often at the expense of the other nationalities.

The interwar years were hard for the Jews of the region. Most nationalists distrusted them because they were not fully integrated into 'national communities'. In contrast to times under the Austro-Hungarian monarchy, Jews were often ostracized and discriminated against. Although anti-Semitism had been widespread during Habsburg rule, Jews faced no official discrimination because they were, for the most part, ardent supporters of the multi-national state and the monarchy. Jews had feared the rise of ardent nationalism and nation states, because they foresaw the difficulties that would arise.

The economic disruption of the war and the end of the Austro-Hungarian customs union created great hardship in many areas. Although many states were set up as democracies after the war, one by one, with the exception of Czechoslovakia, they reverted to some form of authoritarian rule. Many quarreled amongst themselves but were too weak to compete effectively. Later, when Germany rearmed, the nation states of south- central Europe were unable to resist its attacks, and fell under German domination to a much greater extent than had ever existed in Austria-Hungary.

Ottoman Empire

At the end of the war, the Allies occupied Istanbul and the Ottoman government collapsed. The Treaty of Sèvres, a plan designed by the Allies to dismember the remaining Ottoman territories, was signed on August 10, 1920 though never ratified by the Sultan.

The occupation of Izmir by Greece on May 19, 1919 triggered a nationalist movement to rescind the terms of the treaty. Turkish revolutionaries led by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, a successful Ottoman commander, rejected the terms enforced at Sèvres and under the guise of General Inspector of the Ottoman Army, left Istanbul for Samsun to organize the remaining Ottoman forces to resist the terms of the treaty. On the eastern front, the defeat of the Armenian forces in the Turkish-Armenian War and signing of the Treaty of Kars with the Soviet Union recovered territory lost to Armenia and Imperial Russia.

On the western front, the growing strength of the Turkish nationalist forces led Greece, with the backing of Britain, to invade deep into Anatolia in an attempt to deal a blow to the revolutionaries. At the Battle of Sakarya, the Greek army was defeated and forced into retreat, leading to the recovery of Izmir and withdrawal of Greece from Asia Minor. With the nationalists empowered, the army marched on to reclaim Istanbul, resulting in the Chanak crisis in which the British Prime Minister, David Lloyd George, was forced to resign. After Turkish resistance gained control over Anatolia and Istanbul, the Sèvres treaty was superseded by the Treaty of Lausanne which formally ended all hostilities and led to the creation of the modern Turkish republic. As a result, Turkey became the only power of World War I to overturn the terms of its defeat, and negotiate with the Allies as an equal.

The Lausanne treaty formally acknowledged the new League of Nations mandates in the Middle East, the cession of their territories on the Arabian Peninsula, and British sovereignty over Cyprus. The League of Nations granted France mandates over Syria and Lebanon and granted the United Kingdom mandates over Iraq and Palestine (which comprised two autonomous regions: Palestine and Transjordan). Parts of the Ottoman Empire on the Arabian Peninsula became part of what is today Saudi Arabia and Yemen. The dissolution of the Ottoman Empire became a pivotal milestone in the creation of the modern Middle East, the result of which bore witness to the creation of new conflicts and hostilities in the region.

United Kingdom

In the United Kingdom, funding the war had a severe economic cost. From being the world's largest overseas investor, it became one of its biggest debtors with interest payments forming around 40% of all government spending. Inflation more than doubled between 1914 and its peak in 1920, while the value of the Pound Sterling (consumer expenditure) fell by 61.2%. Reparations in the form of free German coal depressed the local industry, precipitating the 1926 General Strike.

British private investments abroad were sold, raising £550 million. However, £250 million new investment also took place during the war. The net financial loss was therefore approximately £300 million; less than two years investment compared to the pre-war average rate and more than replaced by 1928.[7] Material loss was "slight": the most significant being 40% of the British merchant fleet sunk by German U-boats. Most of this was replaced in 1918 and all immediately after the war. The military historian Correlli Barnett has argued that "in objective truth the Great War in no way inflicted crippling economic damage on Britain" but that the war "crippled the British psychologically but in no other way".

Less concrete changes include the growing assertiveness of Commonwealth nations. Battles such as Gallipoli for Australia and New Zealand, and Vimy Ridge for Canada led to increased national pride and a greater reluctance to remain subordinate to Britain, leading to the growth of diplomatic autonomy in the 1920s. These battles were often decorated in propaganda in these nations as symbolic of their power during the war. Traditionally loyal dominions such as Newfoundland were deeply disillusioned by Britain's apparent disregard for their soldiers, eventually leading to the unification of Newfoundland into the Confederation of Canada. Colonies such as India and Nigeria also became increasingly assertive because of their participation in the war. The populations in these countries became increasingly aware of their own power and Britain's fragility.

In Ireland the delay in finding a resolution to the home rule issue, partly caused by the war, as well as the 1916 Easter Rising and a failed attempt to introduce conscription in Ireland, increased support for separatist radicals, and led indirectly to the outbreak of the Irish War of Independence in 1919.

United States

In the United States, disillusioned by the failure of the war to achieve the high ideals promised by President Woodrow Wilson, the American people chose isolationism and, after an initial recession enjoyed several years of unbalanced prosperity until the 1929 stock market crash. However, American commercial interests did finance Germany's rebuilding and reparations efforts, at least until the onset of the Great Depression. The close relationships between American and German businesses became an embarrassment following the Nazi rise to power in Germany in the early 1930s.


France annexed the Independent Republic of Alsace-Lorraine, the country which had been established in the wake of Kaiser Wilhelm II's abdication, corresponding to the region which had been ceded to the German Empire during the 1870 Franco-Prussian War. At the 1919 Peace Conference, President Clemenceau's aim was to insure that Germany would not seek revenge in the following years. To this purpose, the chief commander of the Allied forces, Field Marshal Ferdinand Foch, had demanded that for the future protection of France the Rhine river should now form the border between France and Germany. Based on history, he was convinced that Germany would again become a threat, and, on hearing the terms of the Treaty of Versailles that had left Germany substantially intact, he observed with great accuracy that "This is not Peace. It is an Armistice for twenty years."

The destruction brought upon the French territory was to be indemnified by the reparations negotiated at Versailles. This financial imperative dominated France's foreign policy through-out the twenties, leading to the 1923 Occupation of the Ruhr in order to force Germany to pay. However, Germany was unable to pay, and obtained support from the United States. Thus, the Dawes Plan was negotiated after President Raymond Poincaré's occupation of the Ruhr, and then the Young Plan in 1929.

Also extremely important in the War was the participation of French colonial troops, including the Senegalese tirailleurs, from Indochina, North Africa, and Madagascar. When these soldiers returned to their homelands and continued to be treated as second class citizens, many became the nucleus of pro-independence groups.

Furthermore, under the state of war declared during the hostilities, the French economy had been somewhat centralized in order to be able to shift into a "war economy", leading to a first breach with classical liberalism.

Finally, the socialist's support of the National Union government (including Alexandre Millerand's nomination as Minister of War) marked a shift towards the SFIO's turn towards social-democracy and participation in "bourgeois governments", although Léon Blum maintained a socialist rhetoric.


After the war, Italy failed to annex Dalmatia (which had been promised by Britain and France in the Treaty of London to induce Italy to join the war), and had to fight some more years to annex the city of Fiume, which had an Italian population, and this led several Italian politicians to speak of a "mutilated victory".

Indeed, it should not have been difficult to see how, among the Allied Powers, Italy had been the one which benefited the most from the outcome of the war. Whereas Britain and France still faced a Germany which had kept about 80 percent of his industrial and economic potential and thus could attempt a revanche in a matter of years, Italy had definitively gotten rid of her century-old enemy: instead of the Austro-Hungarian Empire there were now a number of smaller states, none of which could pose a credible threat, and some of them could even fall within the Italian sphere of influence.

With the annexation of Friuli, Istria, Trentino-Alto Adige, Trieste, Zara and some Dalmatian islands, Italy had completed her territorial expansion and could now rely on secure borders, although more than 50% of the population of the freshly conquered territories was "non Italian". Furthermore, Italian sovereignty over Rhodes and the Dodecanese had been officially recognized, as well as the Italian special interests in Albania. However, a Yugoslavian state was created in order to limit Italian influence and expansion on the Balkans, and thus Italy was quite isolated. The Italian politicians failed to perceive the positive elements of the peace treaties and stressed the negative ones, and so the myth of the "mutilated victory" spread, fueling the Fascist propaganda and helping Benito Mussolini seize power.

During the war, Italy had suffered fewer casualties than Britain and much fewer than France, and the social problems she was facing afterward (an inflated war industry to reconvert to civilian production, the large number of crippled people no longer able to sustain themselves, the new role of women) were common to other Allied countries which, however, did not suffer an authoritarian drift. The difference between Italy and the other western allies lies in the more arbitrated economic and social conditions, which made it more difficult for Italy to recover from similar difficulties. Due to similar reasons, most south and east European countries had to face political unrest, dictatorship and fascism in the period between the World Wars.


The Republic of China who hoped to retake the Jiaozhou Bay occupied by Germany between 1898 and 1914 suffered diplomatic failure at the Paris Peace Conference, 1919. The Chinese delegation also called for an end to Western imperialistic institutions in China, which was refused. Despite sending thousands of labourers to France during the war, China as an allied and victorious nation was refused the demand for the return of Jiaozhou Bay and the city was instead transferred to Japanese rule. This led to the May Fourth Movement, a profound social and political movement often cited as the birth of Chinese nationalism, which both the Kuomintang and Chinese Communist Party consider an important period in their history. Subsequently, China did not sign the treaty, signing a separate peace treaty with Germany in 1921.

Territorial gains and losses

Nations that gained territory after World War I

  • Yugoslavia (as the successor state of the Kingdom of Serbia)
  • Romania
  • Greece
  • France
  • Italy
  • Denmark
  • Belgium
  • Poland

Nations that lost territory after World War I

  • Bolshevist Russia (as the successor state of the Russian Empire)
  • Weimar Germany (as the successor state of the German Empire)
  • Austria (as the successor state of Cisleithania and the Austro-Hungarian Empire)
  • Hungary (as the successor state of Transleithania and the Austro-Hungarian Empire)
  • Turkey (as the successor state of the Ottoman Empire)
  • Bulgaria

Social trauma

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The experiences of the war in the west are commonly assumed to have led to a sort of collective national trauma afterward for all of the participating countries. The optimism of 1900 was entirely gone and those who fought in the war became what is known as "the Lost Generation" because they never fully recovered from their experiences. For the next few years, much of Europe mourned privately and publicly; mourning and memorials were erected in thousands of villages and towns.

On the other hand, some people argue that it is not at all clear that any society was traumatised. Nor that the human losses were heavily mourned. This was the later view in the West, during the 1930s, because by then the Great Depression and the rise of Nazism made the sacrifices of the First World War seem meaningless. This was not clear in the 1920s. Neither Hitler's Germany nor the Soviet Union displayed any evidence that the First World War was at all traumatic. For Germany, the Soviet Union and all the new states the First World War had been the creation of the old political order and, as such, had little effect on the political elites of these countries. The real trauma for the British political class was the possibility of any future war.

As early as 1923, Stanley Baldwin had recognised a new strategic reality that faced Britain in a disarmament speech[4]. Poison gas and the aerial bombing of civilians were new developments of the First World War. The British civilian population had not, for centuries, had any reason to fear invasion. So the new threat of poison gas dropped from enemy bombers excited a grossly exaggerated view of the civilian deaths that would occur on the outbreak of any war. Baldwin expressed this in his statement that The bomber will always get through. The traditional British policy of a balance of power in Europe no longer safeguarded the British home population. Out of this fear came appeasement. It is notable that neither Baldwin nor Neville Chamberlain had fought in the war but the anti-appeasers Antony Eden, Harold Macmillan and Winston Churchill had fought.

One gruesome reminder of the sacrifices of the generation was the fact that this was one of the first times in warfare whereby more men had died in battles than to disease, which had been the main cause of deaths in most previous wars. The Russo-Japanese War was the first war where battle deaths outnumbered disease deaths, but it had been fought on a much smaller scale between just two nations.

This social trauma made itself manifest in many different ways. Some people were revolted by nationalism and what it had caused; so, they began to work toward a more internationalist world through organizations such as the League of Nations. Pacifism became increasingly popular. Others had the opposite reaction, feeling that only military strength could be relied on for protection in a chaotic and inhumane world that did not respect hypothetical notions of civilization. Certainly a sense of disillusionment and cynicism became pronounced. Nihilism grew in popularity. Many people believed that the war heralded the end of the world as they had known it, including the collapse of capitalism and imperialism. Communist and socialist movements around the world drew strength from this theory, enjoying a level of popularity they had never known before. These feelings were most pronounced in areas directly or particularly harshly affected by the war, such as central Europe, Russia and France.

Artists such as Otto Dix, George Grosz, Ernst Barlach, and Käthe Kollwitz represented their experiences, or those of their society, in blunt paintings and sculpture. Similarly, authors such as Erich Maria Remarque wrote grim novels detailing their experiences. These works had a strong impact on society, causing a great deal of controversy and highlighting conflicting interpretations of the war. In Germany, nationalists including the Nazis believed that much of this work was degenerate and undermined the cohesion of society as well as dishonouring the dead.

Remains of ammunition

Iron harvest World War I ordnance left beside a field for disposal by the army in 2004 near Ypres in Belgium.

Throughout the areas where trenches and fighting lines were located, such as the Champagne region of France, quantities of unexploded shells and other ammunition have remained, some of which remains dangerous, continuing to cause injuries and occasional fatalities in the 21st century. Some are found by farmers ploughing their fields and have been called the iron harvest. Some of this ammunition contains chemical toxic products such as mustard gas. Cleanup of major battlefields is a continuing task with no end in sight for decades more. Squads remove, defuse or destroy hundreds of tons of unexploded ammunition every year in Belgium and France.

Postwar relations

Wartime conferences

Several postwar disagreements between western and Soviet leaders were related to their differing interpretations of wartime and immediate post-war conferences.

The Tehran Conference in late 1943 was the first Allied conference in which Stalin was present. At the conference the Soviets expressed frustration that the Western Allies had not yet opened a second front against Germany in Western Europe. In Tehran, the Allies also considered the political status of Iran. At the time, the British had occupied southern Iran, while the Soviets had occupied an area of northern Iran bordering the Soviet republic of Azerbaijan. Nevertheless, at the end of the war, tensions emerged over the timing of the pull out of both sides from the oil-rich region.

At the February 1945 Yalta Conference, the Allies attempted to define the framework for a postwar settlement in Europe. The Allies could not reach firm agreements on the crucial questions: the occupation of Germany, postwar reparations from Germany, and loans. No final consensus was reached on Germany, other than to agree to a Soviet request for reparations totaling $10 billion "as a basis for negotiations." Debates over the composition of Poland's postwar government were also acrimonious.

Following the Allied victory in May, the Soviets effectively occupied Eastern Europe, while the US had much of Western Europe. In occupied Germany, the US and the Soviet Union established zones of occupation and a loose framework for four-power control with the ailing French and British. Harry S. Truman and Joseph Stalin meeting at the Potsdam Conference on July 18, 1945. From left to right, first row: Stalin, Truman, Soviet Ambassador Andrei Gromyko, Secretary of State James F. Byrnes, and Soviet Foreign Minister Vyacheslav Molotov. Second row: Truman confidant Harry Vaughan [1], Russian interpreter Charles Bohlen, Truman naval aide James K. Vardaman, Jr., and Charles Griffith Ross (partially obscured) [2].

At the Potsdam Conference starting in late July 1945, the Allies met to decide how to administer the defeated Nazi Germany, which had agreed to unconditional surrender nine weeks earlier on May 7 and May 8, 1945, VE day. Serious differences emerged over the future development of Germany and Eastern Europe.[27] At Potsdam, the US was represented by a new president, Harry S. Truman, who on April 12 succeeded to the office upon Roosevelt's death. Truman was unaware of Roosevelt's plans for post-war engagement with the Soviet Union[citation needed], and more generally uninformed about foreign policy and military matters.[24] The new president, therefore, was initially reliant on a set of advisers (including Ambassador to the Soviet Union Averell Harriman, Secretary of War Henry L. Stimson and Truman's own choice for secretary of state, James F. Byrnes). This group tended to take a harder line towards Moscow than Roosevelt had done.[24] Administration officials favoring cooperation with the Soviet Union and the incorporation of socialist economies into a world trade system were marginalized. The UK was represented by a new prime minister, Clement Attlee, who had replaced Churchill after the Labour Party's defeat of the Conservatives in the 1945 general election.

One week after the Potsdam Conference ended, the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki added to Soviet distrust of the United States, when shortly after the attacks, Stalin protested to U.S. officials when Truman offered the Soviets little real influence in occupied Japan.[28]

The immediate end of Lend-Lease from America to the USSR after the surrender of Germany also upset some politicians in Moscow, who believed this showed the U.S. had no intentions to support the USSR any more than they had to.

Challenges of postwar demilitarization

The formal accords at the Yalta Conference, attended by U.S President Franklin Roosevelt, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, and Soviet leader Joseph Stalin, was key in shaping Europe's balance of power in the early postwar period.

However, toward the end of the war, the prospects of an Anglo-American front against the Soviet Union seemed slim from Stalin's standpoint. At the end of the war, Stalin assumed that the capitalist camp would resume its internal rivalry over colonies and trade, giving opportunity for renewed expansion at a later date, rather than pose a threat to the USSR. Stalin expected the United States to bow to domestic popular pressure for postwar demilitarization. Soviet economic advisors such as Eugen Varga predicted that the U.S. would cut military expenditures, and therefore suffer a crisis of overproduction, culminating in another great depression. Based on Varga's analysis, Stalin assumed that the Americans would offer the Soviets aid in postwar reconstruction, needing to find any outlet for massive capital investments in order to sustain the wartime industrial production that had brought the U.S. out of the Great Depression.[29] However, to the surprise of Soviet leaders, the U.S. did not suffer a severe postwar crisis of overproduction. As Stalin had not anticipated, capital investments in industry were sustained by maintaining roughly the same levels of government spending.

In the United States, a conversion to the prewar economy nevertheless proved difficult. Though the United States military was cut to a small fraction of its wartime size, America's military-industrial complex that was created during the Second World War was not eliminated. Pressures to "get back to normal" were intense. Congress wanted a return to low, balanced budgets, and families clamored to see the soldiers sent back home. The Truman administration worried first about a postwar slump, then about the inflationary consequences of pent-up consumer demand. The G.I. Bill, adopted in 1944, was one answer: subsidizing veterans to complete their education rather than flood the job market and probably boost the unemployment figures. In the end, the postwar U.S. government strongly resembled the wartime government, with the military establishment—along with military-security industries—heavily funded. The postwar capitalist slump predicted by Stalin was averted by domestic government management, combined with the U.S. success in promoting international trade and monetary relations.

Conflicting visions of postwar reconstruction

There were fundamental contrasts between the visions of the United States and the Soviet Union, between the ideals of capitalism and communism. Those contrasts had been simplified and refined in national ideologies to represent two ways of life, each vindicated in 1945 by previous disasters. Conflicting models of autarky versus exports, of state planning against private enterprise, were to vie for the allegiance of the developing and developed world in the postwar years.

U.S. leaders, following the principles of the Atlantic Charter, hoped to shape the postwar world by opening up the world's markets to trade and markets. Administration analysts eventually reached the conclusion that rebuilding a capitalist Western Europe that could again serve as a hub in world affairs was essential to sustaining U.S. prosperity.

World War II resulted in enormous destruction of infrastructure and populations throughout Eurasia with almost no country left unscathed. The only major industrial power in the world to emerge intact—and even greatly strengthened from an economic perspective—was the United States. As the world's greatest industrial power, and as one of the few countries physically unscathed by the war, the United States stood to gain enormously from opening the entire world to unfettered trade. The United States would have a global market for its exports, and it would have unrestricted access to vital raw materials. Determined to avoid another economic catastrophe like that of the 1930s, U.S. leaders saw the creation of the postwar order as a way to ensure continuing U.S. prosperity.

Such a Europe required a healthy Germany at its center. The postwar U.S. was an economic powerhouse that produced 50% of the world's industrial goods and an unrivaled military power with a monopoly of the new atom bomb. It also required new international agencies: the World Bank and International Monetary Fund, which were created to ensure an open, capitalist, international economy. The Soviet Union opted not to take part.

The American vision of the postwar world conflicted with the goals of Soviet leaders, who, for their part, were also motivated to shape postwar Europe. The Soviet Union had, since 1924, placed higher priority on its own security and internal development than on Leon Trotsky's vision of world revolution. Accordingly, Stalin had been willing before the war to engage non-communist governments that recognized Soviet dominance of its sphere of influenced and offered assurances of non-aggression.

Aftermath of the Post World War

The end of World War II is seen by many as marking the end of the United Kingdom's position as a global superpower and the catalyst for the emergence of the United States and the Soviet Union as the dominant powers in the world. Friction had been building up between the two before the end of the war, and with the collapse of Nazi Germany relations spiraled downward.

In the areas occupied by Western Allied troops, pre-war governments were re-established or new democratic governments were created; in the areas occupied by Soviet troops, including the territories of former Allies such as Poland, communist states were created. These became satellites of the Soviet Union.

Germany was partitioned into four zones of occupation. The American, British and French zones were grouped a few years later into West Germany and the Soviet zone became East Germany. Austria was once again separated from Germany and it, too, was divided into four zones of occupation, which eventually reunited and became the republic of Austria. Korea was divided in half along the 38th parallel.

The partitions were initially informal, but as the relationship between the victors deteriorated, the military lines of demarcation became the de facto country boundaries. The Cold War had begun, and soon two blocs emerged: NATO and the Warsaw Pact.

The partitioning of Europe and Germany and Berlin persisted until the crumbling of the Eastern Bloc in 1989/1990. The Berlin Wall fell on 9 November 1989.

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