Decade Overview of the 1940s
The Second World War is a true catastrophe on the international scene as
Hi, I'm Frank Couvares for About.com, and I'm here to talk to you about the decade of the 1940s.The 1940s is, of course, the decade of the Second World War. The Second World War is a true catastrophe on the international scene. Almost sixty million people - we really will never know - die in that war, most of them noncombatants. The Soviet Union alone loses twenty to twenty-five million people.The main domestic consequence of the Second World War is that Dr. Win-the-War ends The Great Depression.By 1942, unemployment is essentially zero. Every adult male body is in uniform and part of the armed forces, or in industry, working to supply the armed forces of the United States. A significant part of that industrial surge is women workers, about 25 percent of the workforce during World War II is female - way above historical proportions.And yet, not everything is great during the 1940s. One thing that happens, as in World War I, demand for labor leads to increasing migration from the South, both for whites and blacks. And when those whites and blacks show up in places like Detroit and Chicago, there's a great deal of racial conflict. In 1943, there's a terrible racial riot in Detroit, many people killed.Nevertheless, despite continuing conflict in American society, most Americans signed on quite cheerfully to rationing; most journalists sign on quite cheerfully to censorship - indeed, the government hardly had to censor the press. The end of the war - the Pacific phase of the war - ends with the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The world breathes a sigh of relief.But almost as soon as the war is over, another crisis begins to emerge - something that would eventually be called The Cold War. What happens at the end of the war in Europe, where the American and Allied tanks are, those place become part of NATO, or the Western sphere of influence. Where the Soviet tanks are would become the Warsaw Pact, or the Russian sphere of influence. Germany is divided between the Russian sector and the Allied sector, Eastern Europe falls under the Soviet yoke, Western Europe becomes allied with the United States. So the division of Europe follows the division of forces at the end of the war. And that becomes, essentially, the boundary between East and West - the Iron Curtain. And the two superpowers emerge as the dominant forces in the world for the next half-century.Thanks for watching. To learn more, visit us on the web at About.com.