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Adolf Hitler and the World War -2.

Adolf Hitler

Hitler, Adolf (1889-1945), ruled Germany as dictator from

1933 to 1945. He turned Germany into a powerful war
machine and provoked World War II in 1939. Hitler's
forces conquered most of Europe before they were defeated

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Adolf Hitler and the World War -2.

Introduction and Early Life:

Adolf Hitler is a big name of Modern European History was
born on April 20, 1889, in Braunau, Austria, a small town
across the Inn River from Germany. He was the fourth child
of the third marriage of Alois Hitler, a customs official.
Alois Hitler was 51 years old when Adolf was born. Adolf's
mother, Klara Polzl, was 28 years old. She was a farmer's
About six years after Adolf's birth, his father retired and
moved near Linz, Austria. Adolf received good marks in
Primary school and his father wanted him to be a civil
servant but his low marks in secondary school develop an
interest to be an artist.

After the death of his father he starts painting and spending

time in daydreaming, drawing pictures, and reading books.
He could not join the Arts Academy and leave to Vienna, the
capital of Austrian Hungary.

During his stay at Vienna he considers himself with political

observations, admiring the effective leadership and
organization of the Social Democratic Party in Vienna. He
developed a growing hatred for Jews and Slavs. Like many
German-speaking Austrians, Hitler became fiercely
nationalistic. No form of government could last, he thought,
if it treated people of different nationalities equally.

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In 1913, Hitler moved to Munich, Germany. The Austrian

Army called him for a physical examination, but he was
found unfit for service. World War I began in August 1914.
Hitler volunteered immediately for service in the German
Army and was accepted. He served valiantly as a messenger
on the Western Front for most of the war, taking part in
some of the bloodiest battles. He was wounded and twice
decorated for bravery. But Hitler rose only to the rank of
corporal. When Germany surrendered in November 1918, he
was in a military hospital recovering from temporary
blindness that resulted from his exposure in battle to mustard
gas. He was deeply shaken by news of the armistice. He
believed that the unity of the German nation was threatened,
and that he must attempt to save Germany.



Defeat in World War I shocked the German people.

Despair and turmoil increased as the army returned to a
bankrupt country. Millions of Germans could not find
work. A socialist-liberal republic replaced the defeated

After World War I, Germany was forced to sign the Treaty

of Versailles. The treaty held Germany responsible for the
war. It stripped the nation of much territory and restricted
the German Army to 100,000 men. It also provided for a
15-year foreign occupation of an area of western Germany
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called the Rhineland. But the harshest part was the demand
that Germany pay huge reparations (payments for war
damages). The sums demanded by the treaty were so great
that they made peace difficult. Nationalists, Communists,
and others attacked the new government. The nationalists
demanded punishment for the "criminals" who had signed
the treaty.
After Hitler recovered from the effects of the mustard gas,
he returned to Munich and remained in the army until
March 1920. In the autumn of 1919, he began to attend
meetings of a small nationalist group called the German
Workers' Party. He joined the party and changed its name
to the National Socialist German Workers' Party. The group
became known as the Nazi Party. The Nazis called for the
union of all Germans into one nation, including the
Austrians and German minorities in Czechoslovakia and
other countries. They demanded that citizens of non-
German or Jewish origin be deprived of German
citizenship, and they called for the cancellation of the
Treaty of Versailles.

Hitler was a skilful politician and organizer. He became

leader of the Nazis and quickly built up party membership--
partly by his ability to stir crowds with his speeches. Hitler
attacked the government and declared that the Nazi Party
could restore the economy, assure work for all, and lead
Germany to greatness again.

Hitler also organized a private army he called storm

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troopers. He used brown-shirted uniforms and the swastika

emblem to give his party and the storm troopers--known as
the SA--a sense of unity and power. The troopers fought
the armies of the Communist, Social Democratic, and other
parties who opposed Nazi ideas or tried to break up Nazi
Party rallies. By October 1923, the storm troopers
numbered 15,000 members. They had a considerable
number of machine guns and rifles.

An opportunity for Hitler (The Beer hall

In 1923, Germany was in deep trouble. France and Belgium
had sent troops to occupy the Ruhr District, the chief
industrial region. German workers there responded by
going on strike. The strike aggravated a crisis in Germany's
economy, which had already been weakened by the
reparations payments, and German money lost almost all
value. Communist and nationalist revolts flared up
throughout Germany, and the state of Bavaria was in open
conflict with the central government in Berlin. Hitler saw
an opportunity amid these troubles to overthrow both the
Bavarian and national German governments.

On Nov. 8, 1923, at a rally in a Munich beer hall, Hitler

proclaimed a Nazi revolution, or putsch. The next day, he
tried to seize the Bavarian government in what became
known as the Beer Hall Putsch. Hitler, supported by the
German General Erich F. W. Ludendorff, led over 2,000
storm troopers on a march against the Bavarian
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government. But state police opened fire and stopped the

procession, killing 16 marchers. The plot failed. Hitler was
arrested and sentenced to five years in prison.

Hitler’s Ideology.
Hitler Wrote a book by the name of Mein Kampf (My
struggle), in the book, he stated his beliefs and his ideas for
Germany's future, including his plan to conquer much of
Europe. Territories lost in World War I would be
recovered. Austria and parts of Czechoslovakia where
Germans lived would be added to Germany. The growing
German nation would seize lebensraum (living space) from
Poland, the Soviet Union, and other countries to the east.

Hitler also wrote that Germans represented a superior form

of humanity. They must stay "pure," he said, by avoiding
marriage to Jews and Slavs. Hitler blamed the Jews for the
evils of the world. He accused them of corrupting
everything of ethical and national value. He said: "By
defending myself against the Jews, I am doing the Lord's
work." Democracy, said Hitler, could lead only to
Communism. A dictatorship was the only way to save
Germany from the threats of Communism and Jewish

Rise of the Nazis.

Hitler was freed about nine months after his trial. He left
prison in December 1924. Great changes had taken place in
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Germany during 1924. A schedule for Germany's

reparations payments helped stabilize the German currency,
and the nation showed signs of recovering from the war.
Most people had work, homes, food, and hope for the

The government had outlawed the Nazis after the Beer Hall
Putsch. Many party members had drifted into other political
groups. After Hitler was released from prison, he began to
rebuild his party. He gradually convinced the government
that the party would act legally, and the government lifted
its ban on the Nazis. Hitler won friends in small towns, in
trade unions, and among farmers and a few business people
and industrialists. He also set up an elite party guard, the
Schutzstaffel, known as the SS. By 1929, though the Nazis
had not yet gained substantial voter support, their
organization and discipline had made them an important
minority party.

By this time, Hitler had assembled some of the people who

would help him rise to power. They included Joseph
Goebbels, the chief Nazi propagandist; Hermann Goering,
who became second in command to Hitler; Rudolf Hess,
Hitler's faithful private secretary; Heinrich Himmler, the
leader of the SS; Ernst Rohm, the chief of the SA; and
Alfred Rosenberg, the party philosopher.

In 1930, the worldwide Great Depression hit Germany.

Workers again faced unemployment and hunger. That same
year, Germany agreed to the Young Plan of 1929 to
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reschedule reparations payments. In 1929, Hitler had

launched a campaign to defeat the plan. This campaign
made him a political force throughout the country. He led
protest marches, organized mass meetings, and delivered
speeches all over Germany.

Hitler used his old arguments in the campaign against the

Young Plan and in a national election campaign that took
place in 1930. But he toned down his violent speeches
against Jews, which had failed to attract many votes. Hitler
promised to rid Germany of Communists and other
"enemies" and to reunite Germany and all the other parts of
Europe in which German was spoken.

In 1932, five major elections were held in Germany as its

leaders struggled to give the nation political stability. In the
July elections for the Reichstag (parliament), the Nazis
became Germany's strongest party, receiving nearly 38 per
cent of the vote. Leaders of the other parties offered Hitler
Cabinet posts in exchange for Nazi support. But as leader
of the strongest party, he refused to accept any arrangement
that did not make him chancellor (prime minister) of

The majority of the German people and the leading

politicians did not want Hitler to become chancellor. They
understood that he would make himself dictator and set up
a reign of terror. Germany's president, Paul von
Hindenburg, also had serious misgivings about Hitler. But
the 85-year-old Hindenburg, persuaded by his friends and
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his son Oskar, accepted Hitler's promise to act lawfully if

he were named to form a government. On Jan. 30, 1933,
Hindenburg named Hitler chancellor.

Hitler as a Dictator of Germany.

When Hitler left prison and tried to rebuild the party, he
met with great difficulties. He was challenged in northern
Germany by the “socialist Nazi left leader Gregor Strasser,
who aimed his appeal at the workers. To meet the
challenge, Hitler wooed certain extremist military groups,
the leftovers from World War I. While the workers ignored
Strasser's program, the military outcasts eagerly followed
Hitler. At a party conference in May 1926, Hitler
outflanked Strasser and won back the dictatorial
chairmanship, which he subsequently reinforced by
declaring the party program unalterable, thus undercutting
any attempt to revive the controversy over socialism.

Social conditions still prevented the party from growing,

however. Interest in extremist solutions had waned as
Germany had regained economic and political stability. In
addition, Hitler was prohibited from speaking, which
deprived him of his most powerful weapon. His
breakthrough came in 1929, when the German Nationalist
party made him politically respectable by soliciting his help
in its vicious campaign against the Young Plan's
arrangements for German reparations. In September 1930,
after the depression had hit Germany, the Nazis made their
first substantial showing (18.3% of the vote) in national
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elections, and from then on Hitler seemed to rise

irresistibly. He still used propaganda, demagoguery, and
terror, but he now proclaimed, and defended against strong
party opposition, a policy of legality. While his propaganda
appealed to the lower class victims of the depression, his
insistence on legality made him acceptable to the
conservatives, nationalists, and the military.

During this period, Hitler lived mainly from royalties for

his book and fees for newspaper articles. He was able to
afford an apartment in Munich, a villa in the Alps, and a
car, but his style of life remained modest. He had a craving
for pastries, movies, and Richard Wagner's music. His
behavior still alternated between outbursts of energy and
periods of inactivity and laziness. His sex life seems to
have been abnormal. In 1928 he began a passionate affair
with his niece Geli Raubal. The affair ended tragically in
1931 when Geli, feeling suffocated by his tyranny,
committed suicide. After he became dictator, he made Eva
Braun, a clerk, his mistress, but refused to marry her in
order to preserve his image as a self-denying public

In 1932, with Germany close to anarchy, Hitler's career

approached its crisis. He narrowly lost to the incumbent
Paul von Hindenburg in the presidential elections in April,
and the Nazis polled their highest vote (37.2%) in the July
elections. In the November elections, however, the Nazi
vote decreased to 33.1%. Hitler had lost prestige through
his stubborn insistence on "total power”; the party was
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psychologically and financially exhausted; and the

depression was beginning to wane. At this moment, a
conservative group led by former Chancellor Franz von
Papen arranged for Hitler to enter the government. On Jan.
30, 1933, the aged President Hindenburg appointed him
chancellor in a coalition government with the

The conservatives deluded themselves in thinking they

could use Hitler for their own interests. Within four
months, Hitler had dramatically established his mastery
over them and over all other political groups. He had
destroyed the Communist and Socialist parties and the
labor unions; forced the bourgeois and right wing parties to
dissolve; emasculated or destroyed the paramilitary
organizations; eliminated the federal structure of the
republic; and on March 23, 1933, won from a decimated
and intimidated Reichstag an enabling law that gave him
dictatorial powers. His success came from a combination of
pseudo-democratic mass demonstrations; terror by the SA
and the Nazi-controlled police, which accelerated after the
Reichstag fire in February; and a seemingly conservative
program that kept the conservatives quiescent.

In early 1934, however, he faced new conflicts, mainly

from within the party. The SA, still led by Roehm, and the
Nazi left vigorously opposed his alliance with business and
military leaders, and a group of monarchists was
campaigning for a restoration of the monarchy.
Hindenburg's deteriorating health raised the question of his
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succession. Hitler survived the crisis by adopting the most

radical methods. He rallied behind himself the party
leaders, the army, and Himmler 's SS (the Schutzstaffel, or
Blackshirts), and on June 30, 1934, he struck. A number of
SA leaders, monarchists, and other opponents were
murdered; the influence of the SA was drastically reduced;
and Hitler emerged as the undisputed master of Germany.
When Hindenburg died on August 2, Hitler officially
assumed the title of Fuhrer, or supreme head of Germany.

From 1935 to 1938 he consolidated his dictatorship. The

basis of his power was still his control over the masses,
who admired him as the "man of the people” and falsely
credited Germany's economic recovery to him. (Its real
architect had been Hjalmar Schacht, a conservative
banker.) In 1937-1938 the economy reached full
employment, thanks to an increasingly reckless rearmament
policy. Hitler also protected his position by promoting
rivalries among his subordinates, and he encouraged
Himmler to build a formidable apparatus of terror by means
of the SS, the Gestapo, and the concentration camps. He
then escalated the persecution of the Jews through the
Nuremberg Laws of 1935, which deprived Jews of their
citizenship and forbade marriages between Jews and non-
Jews. Additional restrictive laws were passed during the
next few years, and Hitler's policies resulted in a large-
scale emigration of Jews, socialists, and intellectuals and in
the virtual destruction of Weimar Germany's highly
creative culture.

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Preparation for War.

In foreign affairs, as long as Hitler felt weak, he shielded

his regime by peaceful declarations and by treaties, such as
those with the Vatican in July 1933 and with Poland in
January 1934. Nevertheless, he indicated his true intentions
in October 1933, when he withdrew from the League of
Nations. As his strength increased, he proceeded to remove
the restrictions imposed by the Versailles Treaty by
proclaiming open rearmament in March 1935 and by
remilitarizing the Rhineland in 1936. Simultaneously, he
tried to win the neutrality of Britain through a naval treaty
in June 1935, and gained Italy's allegiance by supporting
Mussolini’s Ethiopian war (1935-1936). The Italian
alliance materialized in October 1936, strengthened by their
joint interference in the Spanish Civil War.

From the outset, Hitler had been determined to conquer

Lebensraum. In November 1937 he disclosed his war plans
to his ministers, and when they objected, he dismissed
Schacht and the heads of the army and of the foreign
ministry. By replacing these men, he eliminated the last
traces of the conservative alliance and cleared the way for
war. Under the guise of a policy of self-determination,
Hitler annexed Austria in March 1938 and the Sudetenland,
the German-inhabited border areas of Czechoslovakia, in
October. By disclaiming any further expansionist aims, he
won approval of the Sudetenland occupation from Britain,
France, and Italy at a conference in Munich.
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When he nevertheless extended his rule over all of

Czechoslovakia in March 1939 and then threatened Poland,
Britain and France abandoned their appeasement policy and
guaranteed Poland's integrity. Unimpressed, Hitler
continued his preparations by signing a nonaggression pact
with Russia on August 23. When he attacked an unyielding
Poland on September 1, Britain and France surprised him
by declaring war.
The Nazis, through Frick's key position as minister of the
interior, controlled all national police authority. Goering
controlled the Prussian police. An emergency decree signed
by Hindenburg on Feb. 4, 1933, gave the Nazis legal
authority to prohibit assemblies, to outlaw newspapers and
other publications, and to arrest people on suspicion of
treason. The Nazis were thus able to put down much of
their political opposition. Goering created an auxiliary
police force made up of thousands of storm troopers and
ordered them to shoot in encounters with "enemies."

On Feb. 27, 1933, a fire began that destroyed the Reichstag

building. Many historians believe that it was planned by the
Nazis. A pro-Communist Dutch anarchist was found at the
site of the fire and admitted that he had started it. The Nazis
quickly blamed the Communists. Hindenburg signed
another emergency decree that gave the government almost
unlimited powers.

Elections for a new Reichstag were held on March 5, 1933.

Hitler hoped to win more than 50 per cent of the vote for
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the Nazi Party. But the party received only 43.9 per cent
despite using terror to influence voters.

After the election, the Communist deputies were arrested or

not admitted to the Reichstag. This gave the Nazis a
majority of the seats. On March 23, 1933, the Nazi-
dominated Reichstag passed a law "for the removal of
distress from the people and the state." This law, known as
the Enabling Act, gave the government full dictatorial
powers and, in effect, suspended basic civil and human
rights for four years. When the president had signed it,
Hitler had a firm "legal" basis on which to govern as he
pleased. He had also destroyed the constitution through
outwardly legal means.

By mid-July 1933, the government had outlawed freedom

of the press, all trade unions, and all political parties except
the Nazis. The Gestapo (secret state police) hunted down
the enemies and opponents of the government. People were
jailed or shot on suspicion alone. By the time Hindenburg
died in August 1934, Hitler ruled Germany completely. He
assumed the title Fuhrer und Reichskanzler (leader and
Reich chancellor).

The Nazis used the press, radio, and films to flood

Germany with propaganda praising the New Order, Hitler's
term for his reordering of German society and for his plans
to reorder the rest of Europe. The regime applauded
military training, rearmament, national pride, and industry.
Jews were forced out of the civil service, universities and
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schools, and the professions and managerial positions. In

1935, German Jews were declared citizens of lesser rights.
Thousands left the country. Many who stayed were sent to
concentration camps along with hundreds of thousands of
political suspects. A person needed official permission to
accept work, change jobs, move, or travel abroad. The
government regulated wages, housing, and production of
goods. All workers and employers were supposed to belong
to the German Labor Front, which was intended to replace
Germany's trade unions. Through the Labor Front, the
government regulated production, wages, working hours,
and leisure activities.

Hitler also set up organizations for young people between

the ages of 6 and 18. These groups included the Hitler
Youth for boys 14 years and older and the Society of
German Maidens for girls 14 years and older. The
organizations were designed to condition German children
to military discipline and to win their loyalty to the Nazi
government. All German children were required to join
such groups from the age of 10. They wore uniforms,
marched, exercised, and learned Nazi beliefs. The Nazis
taught children to spy on their own families and report any
anti-Nazi criticism they might hear.

A network of spies kept watch on the German people and

maintained an atmosphere of terror. The Reichstag met
only to listen to Hitler's public speeches. Judges and courts
continued to function, but Hitler or his lieutenants reversed
any decision they did not agree with.
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The road to war. From 1933 onward, Hitler prepared

Germany for war. He rearmed the nation, first secretly, then
in open violation of the Treaty of Versailles. No nation
acted to stop him, and so Hitler's steps became bolder.
Hitler planned to establish Germany as the world's leading
power and to destroy the Jewish people.

In 1936, Hitler sent troops into the Rhineland, again

violating the Treaty of Versailles. His generals had opposed
this dangerous challenge to France. But Hitler guessed
correctly that France would not stop him. The stationing of
German troops in the Rhineland was the first of the Nazi
dictator's victories without war.

In March 1938, Hitler's troops invaded Austria. Austria

then became part of Germany. In September, France and
Great Britain consented to Hitler's occupation of the
German-speaking areas of Czechoslovakia that had
belonged to Austria-Hungary before World War I ended.
After this move, Hitler said he wanted no more territory.
But after each success, he planned a new take-over. He
took control of the rest of Czechoslovakia in March 1939.

Poland came next on Hitler's list. But Britain and France

took action to try to stop any further German expansion.
They guaranteed Poland's independence, saying that they
would go to war against Germany if Hitler attacked Poland.
Hitler doubted that they would do so. In August 1939,
Germany and the Soviet Union signed treaties of
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friendship. They promised mutual cooperation, trade

privileges, and neutrality in case of war with other
countries. A secret part of the treaties divided Poland
between Germany and the Soviet Union and promised the
Soviet Union other territory in Eastern Europe. On Sept. 1,
1939, Germany invaded Poland. Britain and France
declared war on Germany two days later.

World War II. Hitler's armies overran Poland in just a few

weeks. In the spring of 1940, they easily conquered
Denmark, Norway, the Netherlands, Belgium,
Luxembourg, and France. Benito Mussolini, Italy's dictator,
declared war on France and Britain on June 10, 1940, when
the defeat of France seemed certain. On June 22, 1940,
France signed an armistice with Germany.

Britain fought on alone. A major German air offensive

failed to weaken British resistance. Hitler kept delaying an
invasion of Britain. Instead, in July 1940, he began to
consider an invasion of the Soviet Union. He explained to
his generals that Britain would not surrender until its last
potential ally on the European continent had been defeated.

In June 1941, the attack on the Soviet Union began. At

first, the German forces made rapid progress. But their
advance began to slow in November. By December, it was
halted outside Moscow. An unusually bitter winter, Soviet
reinforcements, and supplies sent by the United States
helped the Soviet forces stop the Germans and begin to
push them back during the winter. Renewed German
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attacks in 1942 and 1943 could not break through. During

the Battle of Stalingrad, which lasted for five months
during 1942 and 1943, the Soviets wiped out an entire
German army of 300,000 men. This German defeat was a
major turning point in the war.

While his empire lasted, Hitler directed the storm troopers,

Nazi officials, and members of the army and the civil
service in a campaign of mass slaughter. About 6 million
Jews--over two-thirds of the Jews of Europe--were
murdered. More than 3 million Soviet prisoners of war
were starved and worked to death. Hitler's victims also
included large numbers of Gypsies, Poles, Slavs, Jehovah's
Witnesses, priests and ministers, mental patients, and
Communists and other political opponents.

The German resistance had tried since 1938 to kill Hitler

and overthrow the Nazis. But repeated plots failed. On July
20, 1944, Hitler narrowly escaped death when a German
Army officer placed a bomb in Hitler's briefing room.

Early in 1945, the Allies marched into the heart of

Germany against rapidly dwindling opposition.

Death. By April 1945, Hitler had become a broken man.

His head, hands, and feet trembled, and he was tortured by
stomach cramps. Eva Braun, Hitler's mistress since the
1930's, joined him at his headquarters in a bomb shelter
under the Reich Chancellery in Berlin. She and Hitler were
married there on April 29. The next day, they killed
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themselves. Aides burned their bodies. Seven days later,

Germany surrendered.

The Nazi empire was created by violence, lived by
violence and was destroyed by violence. In contrast to
other empires created by armed might, which bequeathed
art and literature that are still widely admired, or
administrations, customs, languages and legal codes that
Europeans and non-Europeans still adhere to, from
Ireland to India, the tawdry Nazi anti-civilization left
nothing of any worth behind, except perhaps its
contemporary function as a secular synonym for human
evil. . . . Nazism was literally "from nothing to nothing":
with its powerful imaginative afterlife curiously
disembodied from its pitiful achievements. Rarely can an
empire have existed about which nothing positive could
be said, notwithstanding the happy memories of wartime
tourism. . . . Even in the limited terms of its own aesthetic
politics, the Nazi "New Order" was merely the
universality of ugliness. (Michael Burleigh, The Third
Reich: A New History (2000, p. 481)
The legacy of World War Two was dramatic. 50 million
lost their lives, 20 million Russians alone. The war also
meant a vast number of people left Europe for either
England or the United States in an exodus which has come
to be known as the Great Sea Change. Hundreds of cities
were destroyed, some of them centuries-old. Only 5% of
Berlin remained intact, 70% of Dresden, Hamburg, Munich
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and Frankfurt were destroyed. The war also revealed the

existence of two superpowers -- the United States and the
Soviet Union, countries which would determine the fate of
Europe and the world for the next four decades. The world
now had to atomic bomb. The world also had its Satan:
Hitler. Vast imperialist empires were destroyed and then
there was the Holocaust. In the intellectual realm and in the
world of art, the European war created a Second Lost
Generation with its own philosophy: existentialism.
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