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BellaOnline's History Editor


20th Century Wars Societal Affect on Europe

Guest Author - Rebecca Graf

The wars of the 20th century also impacted Western society. World War I upheaved society in a manner that many had trouble accepting. As men left for war, women from all areas of society moved into the various positions the men left. Women began to feel a sense of “independence and self-reliance that had been unavailable before the war.” Many countries moved toward voting rights for women after the war as they moved up in all areas of society. This was hard for society to accept as it changed how things had always been. In addition to changes in gender, post-traumatic stress disorder arose and affected family life that rippled into all areas. Society had much more to deal with after the war. Art, literature, and education all changed as the Lost Generation tried to come to grips with what it had lost.

World War II picked up where the first war left off and continued changing society. One of the largest impacts was the massive number of deaths that came from it not just from the battle fields but also from the actions of genocide initiated by many nations. Millions died by ammunition charges or through chemical execution. Society found holes in the arts, sciences, and even in blue-collar occupations. In war-torn Europe, there were few who could replace them. Those that did were mostly women who had moved into the roles of men who had left for war. They were the ones who worked the resistance in occupied areas and tried to rebuild their homes.

The Cold War took up the baton as a reminder of the two world wars. Tensions were tight between the West and the East, mainly the United States and its allies and the Soviet Union and its allies. While most of society leveled out after World War II, the Cold War instilled a sense of distrust and restrictions on various areas of Europe and Russia. A cloud hung over many areas where the effects of the world wars were still felt.


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