…we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight

on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the

fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the

hills; we shall never surrender…

–Winston Churchill

 

World War II, while very broad, marked a profound and pivotal change for the whole of human development and interaction. Industrial developments helped pave the way for incredible efficiency in the mass production of complicated technology. Mechanical developments changed the way vehicles are built and operated, and created immensely powerful weapons (artillery, planes, tanks, submarines, etc).

The Second World War was a truly global conflict that involved theaters of war across the planet and involved every major and nearly all of the minor countries on Earth. The devastation wreaked by the Axis and the Allied forces is nearly incomprehensible. Cities that had stood for centuries were burnt to the ground. New and terrible weapons of war were unleashed upon civilians and soldiers alike.

The Soviet Union alone was so devastated that the entirety of the Fourth and Fifth 5 Year Plans were centered on reconstruction of infrastructure and industry following the war. It created the geopolitical balance that led directly towards the Cold War and that balance continues to pervade the modern world. The European Union was born from the economic communities that helped rebuild Europe, the German and Japanese economic miracles made them powerhouses despite their crushing military defeat.

The creation of the United Nations, the end of the British Empire, the rise of the American hegemony in the Western World, the eventual defeat of the Nationalists in China, the Korean War, can all be traced to the Second World War. This doesn’t even take into account the huge human cost of the war, the Holocaust, or the discrediting of fascism and dictatorship in the eyes of the world. It was an era of human history that produced some of the greatest generals, politicians, and scientists of the human race and pitted them against each other.