How World War II Shaped the Modern World

World War II is known to be the deadliest conflict in the world. It killed about 50 to 85 million people from 1939 to 1945. Some of the large-scale effects of World War II are the use of atomic bombs on Japan, the Holocaust’s decimation of Jewish culture and people, and the destruction done by the Axis in Europe. However, there are more indirect ways that World War II shaped modern society, and we are here to list down some of them.

  • After the Nuremberg trials, World War II changed medical ethics, the medical killings that the Third Reich did were exposed. This is why the medical community worldwide decided to adopt the World Medical Association’s Helsinki Declaration. This was considered as the backbone of ethical standards for human experimentation and informed consent. 
  • After World War II, the WHO and UN were formed – in 1945, and the United Nations was established to prevent another conflict that is related to the horrific consequences of World War II. Since its founding, the UN has been a controversial organization, but it helped promote human rights, encourage disarmament, promote peace worldwide, and fight poverty. The UN’s global humanitarian efforts led to the creation of the World Health Organization, which is a group that helped control the spread of tuberculosis, malaria, and other diseases in the world.
  • World War II gave us the world’s the first-ever computer – In the efforts to gather a ton of military intelligence from the Germans, British codebreakers invented Colossus, the first programmable and electronic digital computer. During the war, the British reportedly made 11 Colossus, which contributed to their victory in the war. However, the public did not know about Colossus until the 1970s. 
  • World War II created a nation of readers – According to Yoni Appelbaum of The Atlantic, American publishers back in World War II made a nation of readers by giving away a total of 122,951,031 copies of their most valuable titles to soldiers all around the world during the war. Back then, publishers had a deal with the armed forces to create cheap paperbacks to be shipped to military units worldwide. Basically, World War II democratized the pleasure of reading in a time when books were a luxury item. 
  • World War II helped create synthetic rubber – During World War II, Japan was able to seize rubber plantations in Southeast Asia, which is why they were able to control the world’s natural rubber supply. That is why Allies had to come up with fake rubber to make boots and tires for the Jeeps and feet on the ground. They created the Government Rubber-Styrene or GR-S; they are easier and faster to produce compared to natural rubber. Today, synthetic rubbers are used everywhere, from pet toys, hairbands, surgical gloves, and sports equipment. 
  • World War II helped create the super glue – Super glue was invented by scientists in 1942 in an effort to develop clear plastic gun sights during the war. However, it proved to be unusable because they are too sticky, which is why the super glue went unused for over a decade. But in 1951, a man named Eastman Kodak grabbed the idea of the superglue and released it as an adhesive product he called the Eastman #910. The product became known as the super glue in the 1970s.
  • World War II helped to invent duct tape – During World War II, the company Johnson & Johnson was asked by the US government to create a cloth-based tape that could help keep moisture out of ammunition cases. The company gave the government duct tape as a waterproof sealing tape. At first, the product was called “duck tape” because of its water-repelling properties, but it was eventually renamed the “duct tape” because it was also used in air ducts during the post-war building craze. 
  • World War II gave us the word “Genocide” – The said term did not exist before 1944; it was only coined by a Polish-German lawyer named Raphael Lemkin. He said that he combined the Greek word Geno which means race or tribe, and the Latin phrase Cide, which means killing. Back in 1945, the name was only used during the Nuremberg trials as a descriptive term. But in 1948, the word genocide became used internationally for the crime it signifies.