People were starving, the Kaiser had fled and the new Republic got off to a troubled start for two reasons: Many Germans hated the government for signing the armistice in November - they called them the November criminals. Many Germans felt their country had received a very harsh deal in the Treaty of Versailles. They resented the government for agreeing to its conditions and signing it, even though they were forced to by the Allies.
Share via Email A close-up of a page from a ration book. However, was different, so different that it has been called Year Zero. The capacity for destruction had been so much greater than in the earlier war that much of Europe and Asia lay in ruins. And this time civilians had been the target as much as the military.
The figures are hard to grasp: During the war, millions more had fled their homes or been forcibly moved to work in Germany or Japan or, in the case of the Soviet Union, because Stalin feared that they might be traitors.
Now, inanother new word appeared, the DP, or "displaced person". There were millions of them, some voluntary refugees moving westward in the face of the advancing Red Army, others deported as undesirable minorities.
The newly independent Czech state expelled nearly 3 million ethnic Germans in the years afterand Poland a further 1. Everywhere there were lost or orphaned children,alone in Yugoslavia. Thousands of unwanted babies added to the misery.
It is impossible to know how many women in Europe were raped by the Red Army soldiers, who saw them as part of the spoils of war, but in Germany alone some 2 million women had abortions every year between and The allies did what they could to feed and house the refugees and to reunite families that had been forcibly torn apart, but the scale of the task and the obstacles were enormous.
The majority of ports in Europe and many in Asia had been destroyed or badly damaged; bridges had been blown up; railway locomotives and rolling stock had vanished.
Great cities such as Warsaw, Kiev, Tokyo and Berlin were piles of rubble and ash. Factories and workshops were in ruins, fields, forests and vineyards ripped to pieces. Millions of acres in north China were flooded after the Japanese destroyed the dykes.
Many Europeans were surviving on less than 1, calories per day; in the Netherlands they were eating tulip bulbs. Britain had largely bankrupted itself fighting the war and France had been stripped bare by the Germans. They were struggling to look after their own peoples and deal with reincorporating their military into civilian society.
The four horsemen of the apocalypse — pestilence, war, famine and death — so familiar during the middle ages, appeared again in the modern world. The once great powers of Japan and Germany looked as though they would never rise again. In retrospect, of course, it is easy to see that their peoples, highly educated and skilled, possessed the capacity to rebuild their shattered societies.
And it may have been easier to build strong economies from scratch than the partially damaged ones of the victors. Two powers, so great that the new term "superpower" had to be coined for them, dominated the world in The United States was both a military power and an economic one; the Soviet Union had only brute force and the intangible attraction of Marxist ideology to keep its own people down and manage its newly acquired empire in the heart of Europe.
The great European empires, which had controlled so much of the world, from Africa to Asia, were on their last legs and soon to disappear in the face of their own weakness and rising nationalist movements.
We should not view the war as being responsible for all of this, however; the rise of the US and the Soviet Union and the weakening of the European empires had been happening long before The war acted as an accelerator.
It also accelerated change in other ways: The world got atomic weapons but it also got atomic power. Under the stimulus of war, governments poured resources into developing new medicines and technologies. In many countries, social change also speeded up.
The shared suffering and sacrifice of the war years strengthened the belief in most democracies that governments had an obligation to provide basic care for all citizens. When it was elected in the summer offor example, the Labour government in Britain moved rapidly to establish the welfare state.
The rights of women also took a huge step forward as their contribution to the war effort, and their share in the suffering, were recognised. In France and Italy, women finally got the vote.
If class divisions in Europe and Asia did not disappear, the moral authority and prestige of the ruling classes had been severely undermined by their failure to prevent the war or the crimes that they had condoned before and during it. Established political orders — fascist, conservative, even democratic — came under challenge as peoples looked for new ideas and leaders.
In Germany and Japan, democracy slowly took root. In China, people turned increasingly from the corrupt and incompetent nationalists to the communists.Other articles where History of Germany is discussed: Germany: History: Germanic peoples occupied much of the present-day territory of Germany in ancient times.
The Germanic peoples are those who spoke one of the Germanic languages, and they thus originated as a group with the so-called first sound shift (Grimm’s law), which turned.
World War I summary: The war fought between July 28, , and November 11, , was known at the time as the Great War, the War to End War, and (in the United States) the European War. Only when the world went to war again in the s and ’40s did the earlier conflict become known as the First. The postwar world also presented Americans with a number of problems and issues.
Flushed with their success against Germany and Japan in , most Americans initially viewed their place in the postwar world with optimism and confidence. A novel written by Erich Maria Remarque illustrating the horrors of World War I and the experiences of veterans and soldiers.
It was extremely popular, but also caused a lot of political controversy when it was first published, and was banned in Germany in the 's.
A color photograph of the bombed-out historic city of Nuremberg, Germany in June of , after the end of World War II. Nuremberg had been the host of huge Nazi Party conventions from to Germany faced a lot of problems at the end of World War I.
Germany had gained some territories during World War I, but toward the close of the war Germany was forced to concede and sign a .