Photo by Greg Thames

While it is important to remember the Second World War as written in historical novels such as Virginia R. Degner’s family book, it is also important to recall its tragedies.

In Virginia R. Degner’s family and historical novel about the Second World War, she writes about the heroism and the triumph of her family, and while there is to be some commendation there, we should not forget about how large a tragedy it was. 

Yes, our soldiers were victorious in the end; it still needs to be remembered how horrific the war was and how it fundamentally changed the world.

Looking Back at the Second World War

World War II was the bloodiest and deadliest conflict to have ever graced the annals of human history—an estimated 70 to 85 million died during this period, and of those who died, more were civilians than soldiers. This was a dark period of human existence, with genocides and other atrocities that numbered in the millions. The sheer carnage and brutality of it all leave the common man speechless.

And this is without taking into account the wanton destruction that occurred. During this period, entire cities were reduced to rubble, displacing millions out of their homes and killing their livelihoods. Whole forests and plains were cleared for the sole purpose of feeding and making way for the military apparatus. The need to arm our soldiers led to the increased demand for factories to continually pollute the air and the water.

The Second World War also saw the rise of totalitarianism; it can even be argued that perhaps it was the rise of totalitarianism that saw the Second World War. Regardless, it and its many myriad forms exist still to this day, and the world has yet to recover. There were plenty of authoritarian regimes on both sides, the Axis and the Allies, and these were characterized by their vicious and racist nationalism, terrible militarism, and brutal suppression of dissent. 

The Tragedies of World War II

There were multiple tragedies and horrors that happened during the war–too many to count–and these are some of the most impactful:

The bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. As an overwhelming show of force and as a showcase of their newfound power, the United States decided to drop, in August 1945, two atomic bombs on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. It is estimated that a combined death toll of 225,000 people was achieved from those two actions alone. It was the first use of nuclear weapons in warfare, and it was a horrifying look at what humanity could bring to the table.

The Holocaust. As a culmination of several hundreds of years of discrimination and perceived superiority, the Nazi Party of Germany enacted a systematic genocide against the Jewish people, murdering an estimated six million of their number, from men to children to women to the elderly. This was facilitated in due part because the Jews were seen as lesser and that they were deserving of being subjected to torture, starvation, and execution.

The Nanjing Massacre. As another example of how racial superiority and ethnocentrism lead to needless loss of life and premeditated massacres, the Japanese committed one of the most horrific atrocities of war: the Nanjing Massacre or the Rape of Nanking. In December 1937, after capturing the city, Japanese troops embarked on a six-week spree of violence and looting, massacring hundreds of thousands of Chinese civilians, including women and children.

How It Changed the World

The profound impact of World War II on the world can perhaps never be measured accurately. But there is no denying that by its end, it had significantly impacted the culture, the politics, and the society of the world, especially those places that were directly affected by it.

A critical impact of World War II was the creation of the United Nations, an international organ that was founded in 1945 to prevent future conflicts. The intent was to create a forum for countries to peacefully unite and discuss their differences. 

A direct result of World War II was the Cold War, a period of tension and rivalry between the United States and the Soviet Union. These two superpowers competed for global influence and developed massive nuclear arsenals, pulling other countries into their conflict and spheres of influence and shaping them for the years to come. 

World War II also had a significant impact on the global economy. The war led to rapid economic growth in the United States and other Western countries. However, the war caused widespread economic devastation in Europe and Asia–so much so that some countries have never recovered.

Skip to content