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Cultural Transformations

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Aubrey K.
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documents in English
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  1. Introduction
  2. The Holocaust and the jews in Europe
  3. By-products of the war
  4. World War Two: A key turning point for France
  5. The Soviet Union and the loss of 30 million people
  6. Stalin's claim on the territory that the Red Army had liberated
  7. Germany's postwar experience
  8. Conclusion

World War Two left Europe war torn and destitute. Over 30 million people had been ?uprooted, transplanted, expelled, deported and dispersed?in the years 1939-43? (Judt, Postwar, p. 23). Many cities were completely destroyed including Minsk, Royan, Le Havre, Hamburg, Cologne, Warsaw, and thousands of others (p. 16-17). Industry and agriculture were hard hit, which contributed to the need for food rationing because there was not enough food to feed Europe. This war was without a doubt a total war, in the sense that nothing was sacred or safe from the war machine. An example of the effects of this total war can be seen in the number of civilian casualties: ?The numbers of civilian dead exceeded military losses in the USSR, Hungary, Poland, Yugoslavia, Greece, France, the Netherlands, Belgium and Norway? (p. 18). Thus, this war wreaked havoc not only on the physical landscape of Europe, but also on the psyche of Europeans: Europe would never be the same. In order to deal with this intense trauma and its ensuing consequences, Europe repatriated millions of refugees and displaced persons, many Western European countries instituted social welfare programs, and some countries created myths about the war in order to help their countries heal.

[...] Before the war, France was seen as the major continental power: it had a powerful army, an imperial empire, and a long history of cultural supremacy in Europe. After about four years of German occupation and government collaboration with the Nazis under the Vichy regime, the pre-war image of France had been shattered. France was only invited to postwar meetings among the successful Allies because it was convenient for those leaders and because France was seen as a power of the order?. [...]


[...] Nazi teachers were removed, libraries restocked, newsprint and paper supplies taken under direct Allied control and assigned to new owners and editors with genuine anti-Nazi credentials? (p. 56). However, the people did not welcome these programs because many Germans saw themselves as victims of the war as well. They believed they had been victimized by the Nazis, by the Red Army, and finally by the other Allied nations. They had suffered through the war, through the bombings, and now they were facing food rationing and reconstruction. [...]

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