These images reveal the devastating effects that World War II had on the European continent. A few of the images reveal the massive physical destruction that occurred due to bombings and other military offensives, while others reveal the effects of the war on European populations.
The middle right and bottom left images are the hardest to look at, since they reveal the effects of the war on Europe’s children. Many people often fail to consider the effects of war on children, and only think about the adults. The bottom left image shows children from London sitting in rubble that used to be their home until the Nazis bombed it during the Blitz. During World War II, the British implemented a major evacuation of children away from major cities (especially London) and other targets into the countryside to keep them safe from Axis bombs. The middle rights image shows a young boy among the rubble in the aftermath of the bombing of Warsaw in 1939. Unfortunately, this image foreshadows the massive effects that the war will have on the entire continent.
The rest of the images all deal with the aftermath of World War II. The top left and bottom right images both depict the expulsion of Germans from areas that had been a part of the Third Reich, but were taken away from Germany at the end of the war. Germans remaining in these territories, like the Sudetenland, were forced to leave and return to Germany after the conclusion of the war. As the map shows, Germans had spread across much of Eastern Europe in the early 20th century and therefore had a long journey ahead of them at the conclusion of World War II. It would be interesting to see a follow up to this map showing the distribution of Germans across Eastern Europe today to see how many of these German communities (if any) remain today.
The chart in the upper right shows the extreme effects of World War II on European populations. European countries tended to have higher percentages of their populations die in the war than other countries. Allied countries also accounted for 83% of deaths during the war, compared to the 17% for Axis countries. The Soviet Union had the largest number of deaths overall, but Lithuania lost the largest percentage of its population in the war. Had the Allies not had the Soviet Union available to willingly absorb so many deaths, it would have been much more difficult for them to win the war.
The map on the middle left shows the routes taken by western planes during the Berlin Airlift. After the Soviets cut off ground access to West Berlin in an attempt to starve it and eventually take it over, the British, French, and Americans began bringing supplies into West Berlin by air. The western countries were eventually successful and the Soviet Union unblocked ground routes into West Berlin. The Berlin Airlift served as a foreshadowing of the Cold War, which would dominate the continent and the world for the rest of the century.
This is your first blog assignment. Please write 500 (or more) words commenting on what you see in this post and how it relates to the material that has been covered in class. Please make sure that your comment can be easily identified (ie. use a username that is close to your own name or sign the post at the bottom). Feel free to comment on each other’s entries.