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The Chaos and Tragedy of War: World War II

Updated on November 6, 2011

Fought between the Allied and Axis powers, World War II involved almost all nations and the havoc wrecked by it has dubbed it the “largest and most destructive conflict fought in human history” (“World War II”, American History). In 1939, Germany, led by Adolf Hitler, attempted to take over Poland, which started the war in England. Japan also was attempting to control other lands, creating greater conflict. This began the second World War (“World War II”, United States History). In the beginning, the United States tried to remain neutral, but after the Japanese attacked their base, Pearl Harbor, there was no way that America could stay out of the war. The country joined the Allied powers, which was made up of about 50 nations, including the Soviet Union, England, and France. They fought against the Axis powers, of which Germany, Japan, and Italy were the major powers. The war ended in 1945, in favor of the Allied powers (“World War II”, American History). World War II demonstrates the chaos and tragedy of war through its high casualty rate, destruction of countries, and the atomic bombs dropped on Japan.

With a death toll of approximately 50 million people, World War II is credited with the most destruction of all wars in human history (“World War II”, American History). No other war has had a higher death rate than World War II. Both Eastern Europe and Eastern Asia suffered the highest amount of deaths in their countries, compared to the other nations involved (“World War II”, United States History). All of the deaths that were caused by World War II go to show how tragic war really is. It kills like nothing else. Another example of the tragedy war creates is Pearl Harbor. On December 7, 1941, a Japanese fleet attacked Pearl Harbor, an American base. The attack not only killed and wounded thousands of sailors and soldiers, but also destroyed many military vehicles (“Japan Attacks and America Goes to War”). World War II had set Japan against the United States, despite the country’s attempt to stay neutral, and caused a treachery that would “live in infamy” (“Japan Attacks and America Goes to War”). War creates an unnatural environment where people will lay down their lives, just to kill others. This chaotic state of mind could be seen during World War II as well. Known as kamikazes, Japanese suicide bombers sacrificed their lives to kill others. Though many died trying to help the Japanese, these suicide pilots did little damage to the opposing side, and many died in vain (“Kamikaze”). That so many died for so little is another example of the great tragedy war brings. Their lives did not need to be extinguished in such a way.

During World War II, the damages were immense, in both an economical and political sense. The amount of property damage from the war was estimated at $289 billion dollars (“World War II”, United States History). The war destroyed much of Europe, and created a chaotic environment for its civilians to live in. Following the war, both European and Asian economy crumbled. England, France, and China all lost their status of world powers after World War II. Communists took over China (“World War II”, United States History). The war was responsible for the chaos experienced by these nations. Power changed hands, and people were subject to transformations in their government. Countries turned against each other, creating even more chaos. After the war, the United States and the Soviet Union engaged in a political battle between communism and democracy: the Cold War (“The Cold War”). Though allies during WWII, when that ended, the two nations easily transferred to being enemies, showing how chaotic war can be.

One of the greatest tragedies of World War II is the atomic bombing of two Japanese cities, Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Though the true numbers are still unknown, the estimated casualties of the two atomic bombs dropped on Japan are about 225,000 killed or wounded (“Hiroshima and Nagasaki Death Toll”). These harsh murders show how the tragedies war creates chaos and devastation. This event marks what man is capable of and how, if necessary, he will use whatever means possible to come out on top. Radiation from the atomic bombs caused long-term problems in the survivors of the attacks (“Destructive Effects”). Many were diagnosed with different types of cancer, caused by the exposure to radiation (“Destructive Effects”). These deaths highlight the destruction war creates. Because of the war, many died, which could have been prevented had the war had not began.

The large amount of deaths, devastation wrought through the countries, and atomic bombing of Japan all contribute to showing the tragedy and chaos World War II created. All of the deaths caused by the war, including the Pearl Harbor bombing and kamikazes are an inevitable tragedy that comes from war. Chaos was created from the wreck of the countries, from both political and physical devastation. Attacking Japan with atomic bombs wouldn’t have been necessary if the war had not been started, and the hundreds of thousands of tragic deaths suffered by innocent people could have been prevented. Even after the war had ended for good, the aftermath of war still stayed. The chaos and tragedy it created did not just disperse once a treaty was signed, but remained as a slow healing wound. Villages were still destroyed, country’s animosity grew, people still died from radiation exposure. The war may end, but the devastation will linger for much longer.

Works Cited

"Cold War" The Vietnam War. Jeff T. Hay. Ed. Charles Zappia. San Diego: Greenhaven Press, 2004. 63-64. The Greenhaven Encyclopedia of. Gale World History In Context. Web. 5 May. 2011.

"Destructive Effects" Web. 05 May 2011. <>.

"Japan Attacks and America Goes to War" World War II Reference Library. Ed. Barbara C. Bigelow, et al. Vol. 1: Almanac. Detroit: UXL, 2000. 83-104. Gale World History In Context. Web. 5 May. 2011.

Varley, H. Paul. "Kamikaze" Encyclopedia Americana. Grolier Online, 2011. Web. 5 May. 2011.

"World War II" American History. ABC-CLIO, 2011. Web. 5 May 2011.

"World War II" United States History. Web. 05 May 2011. <http://www.u-s->.

Yamazaki, M.D., Dr. James N. "Hiroshima and Nagasaki Death Toll" UCLA Asian American Studies Center: Welcome. UCLA Asian American Studies Center. Web. 05 May 2011. <>.


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    • shiningirisheyes profile image

      Shining Irish Eyes 5 years ago from Upstate, New York

      Amazing and insight. I am a huge WWII buff and can not tell you how much I enjoyed this hub.

      Voting this up.