Loss of Lives
The most tragic aftermath of the Third Reich is the massive number of lives lost. Between 15 and 20 million military personnel died while Civilian dead numbered approximately 25 million. Among the Axis powers, Germany suffered about 3.5 million battle dead, Japan 1.5 million, and Italy 200,000. Among the Allies the USSR had the heaviest battle casualties, as many as 7.5 million dead. China lost 2.2 million combatants from July 1937. The British lost more than 300,000 dead, the United States 292,000, and France 210,000.
Civilian dead numbered approximately 25 million. The USSR lost more than 10 million, China at least 6 million, France 400,000, the United Kingdom 65,000, and the United States 6,000. On the Axis side, Germany suffered the loss of 500,000 civilians, Japan
600,000, and Italy 145,000. In addition, about 6 million Jews, mostly from eastern Europe, were exterminated by the Nazis in the Holocaust
Poland 's population losses during World War II were proportionately by far the greatest of any nation participating in the war. Of its 35 million people before the war, Poland lost 6.5 million. An estimated 664,000 were battlefield deaths (this figure exceeds combined losses of the United States and Great Britain in WWII), and the remainder, or 90 percent, were civilians of all ages The Nazi German death machine in the Nazi-occupied half of Poland killed 3 million of the 3.3 million Jews who lived in Poland before World War II, or 90 percent of the Jewish population
All in all, approximately 55 million lives were lost and many more wounded
Much of Europe and the USSR was destroyed. Railroads, bridges, water systems, sanitation systems, electric lines, and other infrastructure were in ruins. Millions of homes were reduced to rubble. Manufacturing plants, businesses, farms, and other places where people would ordinarily work were unusable. Millions of people who would have been working in those facilities were dead. 28 million Soviets were made homeless. Two thirds of all wealth disappeared
Sixty million refugees were made homeless by the war. Millions of other civilians had been caught in the cross-fire of war, unintended victims. And there were an estimated eleven million intended civilian victims, murdered by the Nazis because of their race, religion, sexual preference, physical or mental handicap, ideological opposition, or resistance to Nazi genocide
By the end of World War II, there were eight million persons who had been driven out of their native countries by the hostilities. By the end of 1945, as many as six million were able to return. There remained two million who were unable to be repatriated, and were put into Displaced Persons (DP) camps administered by the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration. Among them were 50,000 Jews who had been liberated from the concentration camps. Many from Germany or Austria had no desire to return to their homes, and many from other countries had nothing to return to entire Jewish towns and villages had been wiped out. Many of these Jews were the sole survivors of large families. The DP camps were for the most part former military camps. Conditions were overcrowded and far from luxurious. Jews who escaped the Nazis by hiding or by fighting in partisan units made their way to the DP camps after the war
War Crimes Trial
As early as October 1943, the Allies had scheduled formal conferences to discuss future legal actions against German war criminals once the Axis Powers were vanquished. Within weeks after the German surrender, an International Military Tribunal was established in the German city of Nuremberg to try captured Nazi war criminals and other high-ranking Nazis who had eluded capture. The Tribunal consisted of eight judges, two each from the countries of the U.S. , Great Britain , France , and the Soviet Union . Twenty-one of 24 indicted Nazi leaders stood trial in the first series of what became known as the Nuremberg Trials. The charges brought against these men were conspiracy, crimes against peace, war crimes, and crimes against humanity.
The first trial lasted ten months. Eleven of the defendants were sentenced to death, seven received long prison sentences, and three were acquitted. A year later, 24 more war criminals were sentenced to death, and 117 others received prison sentences. The scope of these trials was limited to punishing those leaders who had instigated and carried out the Nazi master plan to enslave the world. For many of the defendants, the legal defense was that they were "only following orders." The Nuremberg judges rejected that justification.
Individual nations which suffered under Nazi occupation were encouraged to bring to justice thousands of other war criminals who had committed atrocities against their citizens. Many nations did so, and thousands of other war criminals were sentenced to death or received prison terms.
In one celebrated case, Israeli agents tracked down Adolf Eichmann in Argentina and kidnapped him to face trial in Israel . The person most responsible for finding Eichmann was Simon Wiesenthal, who hunted down and brought to justice more than a thousand Nazi war criminals. Eichmann, who was in charge of the Nazi deportation units which sent millions of Jews to their deaths, was tried in 1961 and hanged. This was the only case up to that time in which a Nazi war criminal was tried and accused solely of committing a crime against Jews.
Thousands of Nazi war criminals escaped the clutches of justice, settling in friendly countries and living under assumed identities. The United States government participated in several conspiracies to help war criminals elude justice. Many of these criminals were talented scientists and engineers, and the U.S. government at that time made a policy decision that it was in the interests of this nation to exploit that talent rather than see that justice was done. The U.S. rocket program in the 1950s and 1960s was heavily influenced by the work of German rocket scientists who had participated in war crimes.
Only about 20% of the 150,000 Nazi war criminals were ever put on trial. Millions of others whose complicity was necessary in order to bring about the "Final Solution" and to put the master plan into effect escaped punishment. Today, a half century after some of these war crimes were committed, the search continues to bring perpetrators to trial
After the surrender of the Nazis, Germany was divided into four zones of occupation, controlled respectively by the United States , Britain , France , and the Soviet Union . Authority over Germany was vested in the Allied Control Commission, composed of representatives of those four victorious nations
The four occupation zones, each one corresponding to one of the four Allies:
1) Southwest - France
2) Northwest- Great Britain
3) South - United States
4) East - Soviet Union
Berlin , located in the Soviet zone, was also divided into 4 corresponding zones.
Administration would be independent in each zone but the leaders would consult each other, together forming a governing, decision-making group that was called the Allied Control Council.
In 1949, the Allied government gave back the Germans the control of the Western side. And as the Soviet or Eastern and the Allied or Western sides began to differ and take economic and political routes that were dissimilar, the country was effectively divided in two halves. It was only much later in 1990 that the East and West Germany were reunited
Following the devastating World War 2, the Charter of the United Nations was signed on 26 June 1945 , in San Francisco , at the conclusion of the United Nations Conference on International Organization, and came into force on 24 October 1945
The Charter of the United Nations strives:
To maintain international peace and security, and to that end: to take effective collective measures for the prevention and removal of threats to the peace, and for the suppression of acts of aggression or other breaches of the peace, and to bring about by peaceful means, and in conformity with the principles of justice and international law, adjustment or settlement of international disputes or situations which might lead to a breach of the peace;
To develop friendly relations among nations based on respect for the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples, and to take other appropriate measures to strengthen universal peace;
To achieve international cooperation in solving international problems of an economic, social, cultural, or humanitarian character, and in promoting and encouraging respect for human rights and for fundamental freedoms for all without distinction as to race, sex, language, or religion; and
To be a center for harmonizing the actions of nations in the attainment of these common ends.
On February 19, 1986 , the United States Congress ratified a United Nations Treaty outlawing genocide. This was after the horrifying Holocaust of the Third Reich regime. The 1948 treaty had been signed by President Harry Truman that year, but was stalled in the Senate because of concerns about how the treaty would affect U.S. sovereignty. When the treaty was finally ratified, it was amended to address these concerns.
A law to implement the treaty was enacted by the Congress on October 19, 1988 . The law provides penalties of up to life imprisonment and a fine of up to $1 million as punishment for certain actions with a "specific intent to destroy, in whole or in substantial part, a national, ethnic, racial or religious group." More than 90 nations, including the Soviet Union , had previously ratified the treaty
One important consequence of the Holocaust was the hastening of the state of Israel . A focus of major conflict and tension in the postwar world. For survivors of the Holocaust, the establishment of the Jewish State of Israel was probably a positive legacy of this tragedy.
Declared a sovereign nation on May 14, 1948 , many of its first citizens were survivors of the Holocaust. Prior to its status as a nation, Israel was part of Palestine , under control of the British. The British had severely restricted Jewish immigration into Palestine in an effort to appease Arabs of that area. Arabs, like Jews, had claimed Palestine as their own land. A United Nations resolution in 1947 had recommended that Palestine be partitioned into a Jewish section and an Arab section. The Jews accepted this partition plan, but the Arab League rejected it.
When the Jews declared the birth of Israel , six Arab nations who were opposed to the creation of a new Jewish state invaded, hoping to drive the Jews into the Mediterranean Sea . Although many Arabs stayed, hundreds of thousands of them fled Palestine during the war. The invasion was repelled, and a nation was born whose citizens consisted of many people whom the Nazis had tried to murder.