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Liberation and Aftermath

After a long and very cold winter (1944-45), Amsterdam was liberated by Canadian troops on May 5, 1945. There were scenes of great joy and celebration but also sadness and anger. Not everyone had survived the 4 years of Nazi occupation unscathed. Family members and neighbors did not return. Almost the entire Jewish population had been murdered, including seven of the eight people in hiding at Prinsengracht 263 in Amsterdam.

When Germany surrendered to the allied forces in May, 1945, sixteen million Americans had been mobilized for the war effort. More than 400,000 US military lost their lives in the fight to defeat Germany.

V-J Day

Many fully expected the war with Japan to go on for another couple of years. The end of the war in the east ended quite quickly after the dropping of the 2 atomic bombs on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki on August 6 and 9. The Japanese surrendered on August 14, 1945.

Building a new future

The War had lasted no more than 5 years in most countries, yet some 50 million people were dead. Millions of refugees were homeless, the European economy had collapsed, and 70% of the European industry was completely destroyed.

In contrast to the First World War, the victors did not demand compensation from the defeated nations. Instead, the US Secretary of State George Marshall developed a plan to rebuild Europe. This plan was called the Marshall Plan. Billions of dollars were spent to rebuild Europe.

The end of the war led to the creation of the United Nations and also to the creation of the State of Israel. The global process of decolonization continued that had already started before the war started. Countries such as Great Britain, France, and the Netherlands witnessed how their colonies claimed independence shortly after the Second World War. A new conflict also loomed between previous allies, pitting the United States against the Soviet Union – called the Cold War because the two former allies never directly attacked each other with military weapons.

Copyrights
Copyright Photo: Imperial War Museum (Photo No.: HU 41808).
Anne Frank Guide
This day in history
Today: 11 December 2017
Then: 11 December 1941

Germany and Italy declare war on the United States; the U.S. respond in kind.

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