After World War 2 | Post-World War 2 Germany

 

 

 

 

The Post-World War 2 era is examined on this web page.  The specific post-war events which occurred in Europe are emphasized.

 

After World War 2 ended, the Nuremberg Trial,  the Marshall Plan,  The Cold War, and the War On  Terror occurred and are discussed in this. post-World War 2 site.  Also discussed, is global warming, the energy crisis and the political struggle in the U.S. between the conservatives and the liberals.

 

   Post-World War 2 Germany 

After World War 2 ended in Europe (Germany in World War 2), much of  Europe lay in ruins.  After the death of 55 million people in the war, there was incredible bad feelings toward the Germans, the main perpetrators of  the war.  Additionally, the Soviet Union seemed more interested in looting what remained of European industry under the guise of  "reparations" than in participating in the rebuilding of Europe.  To top off the problems, German war criminals had to hunted down, tried, and, if found guilty, sentenced.  There was a lot of work to do to set things straight.   In retrospect, it seemed it would take a miracle to get it done in  post-World War 2 Europe.

Germany After World War 2 (1945).  In accord with the accord reached in the Yalta Conference of 1945 and the Potsdam Conference of 1945, post-war Germany was divided into four zones of occupation with Russia, the United States, Britain, and France each occupying one zone.  At Potsdam, it was agreed that Germany would be reunited as soon as it was strong enough.  Berlin, although it lay entirely in the Soviet zone of occupation, was also divided into four zones in post-World War 2 Germany.

German War Scientists in Post-World War 2.  Shortly after the war ended, the U.S. enlisted a number of scientists to emigrate to the United States.  Foremost among them was rocket scientist, Wernher Von Braun.  Von Braun had been technical director of the German rocket weapon project at Peenemunde where the V-2 rocket, used with great effect against England, was developed.  After World War 2, Von Braun played a key role in the development of the US satellite program, the Jupiter-C rocket, and the Saturn rocket which played a key role in the American moon flight program (Apollo Program).  Other German scientists ended up working in various capacities for the US and other countries including Russia.

Post-World War 2 Nuremberg Trials of Germany's War Criminals .   The resentment against the major German leaders made it mandatory in Post-World War 2 Germany that some attempt be made to redress the dreadful crimes of those German leaders that were guilty.  Hence, the importance of the Nuremberg trial.  The Nuremberg trial itself appears well handled with all those accused receiving a lengthy and seemingly fair trial.  Most of the defendants  tried to save their skins with a few owning up to their share of guilt for war  crimes.  Most were found guilty but some were found innocent.  Many of the German war criminals found guilty at the Nuremberg Trials appropriately received death sentences while others were only lightly punished. 

Ironically, Hermann Goering, the highest ranking German leader at the Nuremberg Trials, beat the hangman's noose by committing suicide two hours before he was to be led to the scaffold.  This was much to the delight of the German masses who were fond of Goering and felt that he had "beat the system." 

Hess received a life sentence which I feel, because of his absence from the war scene during most of World War 2 and his obvious poor mental condition, was excessive. 

Albert Speer, the "good Nazi" received 20 years.  This gave him plenty of time to write one of the best books on World War 2, Inside the Third Reich, a major reference book for this Germany in World War 2 web site.

Generally speaking, the Allies showed some compassion toward the Nazi war criminals while the Soviets were generally merciless to them.  The executions of those sentenced to death at Nuremberg appeared to have been somewhat sloppily carried out.  Not too many of their war victims felt sorry for them, though.

Of course,  four of the most fanatical Nazis criminals - Hitler, Goebbels, Himmler, and Bormann - either committed suicide to escape capture or were killed by the Russians while fleeing Berlin. Rumors of Bormann escaping to Argentina persisted for decades but it is virtually certain he died from a Russian bullet after leaving the Bunker in a dash for freedom.

It should also be noted that plans to punish German industrial leaders who had collaborated with Hitler and the Nazis  had to be put on hold, indefinitely,  in Post-World War 2 Germany.  Germany was in such bad economic condition and in such need of recovery that the industrial leaders of the war were more needed to lead the  recovery than they were needed for punishment.

Germans on Trials - Summation of Nuremberg Verdicts and Sentences.   Those acquitted of World War 2 crimes at Nuremberg included Hjaimar Schacht, Franz von Papen, and Hans Fritzsche.

Those found guilty of war crimes and receiving the death sentence were Hermann Goering (committed suicide before sentence could be carried out), Joachim von Ribbentrop, Wilhelm Keitel, Ernst Kaltenbrunner, Alfred Rosenberg, Hans Frank, Wilhelm Frick, Julius Streicher, Fritz Sauckel, Alfred Jodl, Artur Seyss-Inquart, and Martin Bormann (in absenta). 

Those found guilty and sentenced to life imprisonment at Spandau Prison were Rudolf Hess (committed suicide at Spandau prison), Walther Funk,  and Erich Raeder.  Two were found guilty and received 20 years: Albert Speer and Baldur von Schirach.  Constantin von Neurath  received 15 years (he was released due to poor health after 8 years) and Karl Doenitz received 10 years.

In his book, "Spandau", Albert Speer chronicles the experiences of those imprisoned at Spandau.

 

 Cold War Follows World War 2

The Cold War between the Soviet Union and the U.S. began almost immediately after the war ended.  Details of that struggle is covered in a separate web page.  See Cold War.

 The Marshall Plan

The Marshall Plan  was both an  event in the Cold War and, for the purposes of this page, an important part of the recovery of Post-World War 2 Germany and Europe. 

In the first few years after the war ended, Germany remained devastated economically.  Germany faced major problems due to the loss of agricultural East Germany to Russia making it necessary for the other three zones to import food from outside Germany. Germany had no resources at the time to pay for the food so it was "charity" food. The American and British reacted quickly realizing that such a "welfare" system could not last forever.  Germany had to be revived economically.  They quickly organized an effective bi-zonal administration designed to reopen factories in their two zones.  This worked well since the effect of the bombings was deceptive and many factories could be quickly reopened.  Still, much recovery work  needed to be done .

In 1947, after Russia refused to assist in rebuilding the continent, General George Marshall and staff began to work on a major plan to help revitalize the continent.  On April 3, 1948, President Truman signed the Foreign Assistance Act, the legislation establishing the Marshall Plan.   The essential nature of the Marshall Plan is discussed in "Earth In The Balance" by Al Gore:

"The commonly held view of the Marshall Plan is that it was a bold strategy for helping the nations of Western Europe rebuild and grow strong enough to fend off the spread of communism.  That popular view is correct - as far as it goes.  But......historians.......emphasize the strategic nature of the plan, with its emphasis on the structural causes of Europe's inability to lift itself out of its economic, political, and social distress.  The plan concentrated on fixing the bottlenecks - such as the damaged infrastructure, flooded coal mines, and senseless trade barriers - that were impeding the potential for growth in each nation's economy .......sufficiently long-term that it could serve as an overall effort to produce fundamental structural reorientation, not just offer more emergency relief.........it was brilliantly administered by Averill Harriman.......the dramatic steps toward a European political community to accompany the European Economic Community (EEC) have all come about in large part because of the groundwork of the Marshall Plan."

Partly as a result of the Marshall Plan, the European economy came roaring back after World War 2 and most of Europe was saved from the grasp of communist Soviet Union. The Soviets and its communists satellites, on the other hand, went downhill economically until, eventually, the whole communist system fell apart. 

It should be noted that the election of Konrad Adenauer also helped greatly with the recovery of Germany in Post-World War 2.  He was elected German Chancellor in 1949 and served until 1965.

By the way, Al Gore has a particular interest in the Marshall Plan because he wants to model a global environmental plan after the Marshall Plan.  A noble goal but would countries of the world be as cooperative as the devastated countries of Europe were after World War 2?  Would the United States, in the present political climate,  be willing to put up the amount of money, make the environmental sacrifices, and provide the leadership necessary for such a plan to be successful.   No, Mr. Gore, your plan will have to wait for more moderate political times in the United States!

It is fair to note that Gore and others (including the writer)  have seized on the Marshall Plan approach as the cure to virtually all the world's big problems.  However, the perfect ingredients were in place for the Marshall Plan to be successful in Post-World War 2 Europe.  Europe was, industrially, a highly advanced society prior to the war so adequate skilled manpower for an industrial recovery was present after the war.  Additionally, the many European plants which had produced war items were easily converted to producing peace-time items after the war ended. 

More than anything else, the European citizens were100 % behind the Marshall Plan.  There were no religious, cultural or ideological barriers present to affect implementation of the plan.  If you try a "Marshall Plan," for example, in an area (parts of the middle-east?) where women are not allowed to participate in the work force, where there are "untouchables" who are not allowed to advance themselves in society, or where there is little religious tolerance, how successful will the plan be?

See Strategic Planning for more on the Marshall plan.

 

  Post-World War 2 Struggle in U.S. Between the Liberals and the Conservatives  

Throughout much of the past century, there had been a clash between conservative elements and liberal elements in the U.S., however, it was pretty much a gentlemen's clash because both liberals and conservatives were employed in the more serious struggles against fascism, communism, and socialism.  Liberals and conservatives often collaborated in the "larger" struggles, for example, the struggle against the Nazi in World War 2 and the struggle against the Soviets after the war ended.  In the early years, both the Democratic and Republican parties contained elements of the liberal and conservative groups and neither the liberals nor the conservative in either party were driven by religious-like fervor.  For example, Republican Governor Rockefeller of New York was as liberal as almost any Democrat. 

However, in about 1975, a major change occurred.  At this time, major U.S. corporations, conservative politicians, foundations, and sundry groups with conservative leanings began a campaign to oust liberals from power and install conservatives in their place.  The campaign, well-financed by the powerful corporations, was well-coordinated and has been imminently successful.  Every technique known to the political establishment is being used by the conservative movement which has taken on a religious fervor and, indeed, some religious organizations have openly joined the conservative movement.  "If you are not conservative, you are the enemy" is the unofficial thought process of many of these conservatives.

The emergence of Rush Limbaugh in the late 80s as a very effective "unofficial" spokesman for the conservative movement moved the conservative campaign into every office and automobile in America.  The Republican Party - always more conservative in its views than the Democratic Party - has been taken over by the extreme elements of the conservative movement.  Needless to say, a liberal like Governor Rockefeller would not be welcome in the conservative-dominated Republican Party in 2004.  Even  former President Ronald Reagan, who helped mold the early conservative philosophy, might not be welcome in the present Republican Party because of his moderation on some issues. 

Democrats, alarmed at the success of the conservative movement, have moved closer to the middle or even to the right of the political spectrum. Bill Clinton's presidency was a good example of this. 

With no countervailing force to oppose the conservatives,  the top income brackets of the population and the powerful corporations have been heavily favored in recent legislation. The corporations can do no wrong. Truth in reporting corporate financial results was thrown out the window during the late 90's.  This is one of the reasons for the formation (and subsequent bursting) of the dot.com stock market bubble.  As a result, trillions were lost by the investing American public as the bubble burst. 

Rush Limbaugh must be singing in the shower at all this.  (Yes, the conservatives appear to have won the early battles and are, at least temporarily, in charge.  The war between conservatism and liberalism is not yet over, however - not by a long shot). 

It took Hilary Clinton to tell it like it is on January 27, 1998: 

"For anyone willing to find it, and write about it, and explain it, is this vast right-wing conspiracy that has been conspiring against my husband since the day he announced for President.........." 

We all laughed at Hilary Clinton then.  Many liberals and moderates are not laughing anymore.

 

Recent Post-World War 2 Events

 

War on Terror and Iraq Wars

The details of the Iraq War Compared to World War 2  is covered in separate web pages.

 

 Elections of 2004 and 2006.   

America has changed a lot in post-World War 2.   There are two Americas now.  One America is the conservative part and the second America is the non-conservative, i.e., liberals, part.  Eventually, one of these parts may have to give way if this country is to be united again.

The conservative movement (see above more complete discussion, above) started in the 70's has become quite a movement and has enlisted tens of millions of converts in its cause.  Rush Limbaugh has been a major factor in the conservative movement, and, no, Rush, we are not laughing at you anymore.  The conservative movement grew in power until it controlled all branches of the US Government.  In 2006, the Democrats managed to capture the House Of Representatives and the Senate, and in 2008, the Democrats added the presidency. Then came 2010 and the Tea Party and the anti-government movement. The Republicans recaptured the House Of Representatives by a landside. Will the conservative counterattack continue or will the liberals find a way to regain the initiative?

 

Energy Crisis (Peak Oil). 

With the divisive elections of 2000 - 2010 out of the way, you would have thought we would have gotten some respite before another Post-World War 2 crisis hit.  Not so.  By 2004 - 2008, it became increasingly obvious that we will soon be facing another major crisis, namely an energy crisis.  This approaching crisis has been receiving some discussion during the past few years.

In 1956, Dr.  M. King Hubbert, geologist for Shell Oil predicted that the US would reach "Peak Oil" in 1970.  Bewhiskered experts in the field laughed.  There had been "chicken little" predictions about oil supplies for decades and the dire predictions never came to pass.  So, it was somewhat of a surprise when 1970 arrived and US oil production did indeed peak and began to move downward.  Dr.  Hubbert's name became forever associated with the  term Peak Oil. 

But wait, not to worry!  Wasn't that term Peak Oil only for the US?  Didn't Saudi Arabia and the rest of OPEC still have a near-infinite supply of oil? Many of the reserve figures for Saudi Arabia and OPEC that had been floated around for eons indicated that such magnitude of reserves did exist.  But, suddenly doubt surfaced about the veracity of the reserve figures.  It turned out that the oil countries and the oil companies had finally realized that the more oil reserves they were credited with, the richer they were.  And it didn't matter that much if some of the reserves didn't actually exist. 

So, some readjustments in reserve estimates took place (by third party experts).

 Recently, a disciple of Dr. Hubbert, petroleum geologist Kennith Deffeyes, the startling prediction that world oil production will peak (Peak Oil) occur on Thanksgiving day of 2005.  This time, the bewhiskered experts did not laugh. 

  Fortunately, Peak Oil did not occur in 2005 and may not have occurred by 2012 (the present year.  The absence of any significant winters for several years and the drop in gasoline demand because of the severe 2008 - 2009 recession have helped delay the arrival of Peak Oil.

When and if Peak Oil does arrive, be ready!  Oil prices and gas prices will almost immediately begin rising.  The experts on this subject say world depression and famine will occur because the world runs on oil and, as supply drops, demand will take over and drive the price of oil into the stratosphere.  There won't be much money to buy other things when most of your money goes for fuel. 

It should be noted that about six years ago, a great technological advance in oil and natural gas drilling occurred and this technological advance may delay the arrival of Peak Oil for decades. This technological advance is in the fracturing-directional drilling techniques used to develop the massive shale formations that have been recently discovered in the US. Several dozen shale formations, eg, Bakken, Haynesville, Barnett, Eagle Ford, Marcellus, etc, are presently being developed. No doubt, numerous other shale formations will eventually be developed worldwide.

Global Warming and the Great Hurricanes. 

In September of 2005, New Orleans and the Mississippi gulf coast were hit by powerful Hurricane Katrina.  A few weeks later Hurricane Rita struck West Louisiana and East Texas.  New Orleans was flooded by Katrina and over 1,200 persons drowned. 

Is Global Warming the culprit for these storms.  If so, we are in for some hard times because continued warming is predicted by experts.  Some people even say the Tribulation has started.

 

Web Sites Related to Post-World War 2

1.   Roosevelt - U.S. President - World War 2.   President Roosevelt led the U.S. to victory in World War 2.

 

2. Cold War.   Cold War events included the Berlin Air Lift, Korean War, Vietnam War, and Cuban MIssile Crisis,

 

3.  US Debt Management  The Debt Management Strategies of Paul Krugman and Dave Ramsey.

4.  Oil & Energy Company Stocks  Oil & Energy Company Stocks.

5.  Iran-US-Israel war.  A war between Iran and the US or Israel may break out at any time..

 

Conclusion:  Post-World War 2   

Events in  Post-World War 2  included the trials of major German Leaders of the war, the Marshall Plan, the Cold War, global warming, the energy crisis, and the political struggle in the U.S. between the conservatives and the liberals.  The events after World War 2 in Europe and, specifically, Germany have been as important as the events of the war.

                           

 

 

     

Last Updated:     09/19/14