Is 1945 a transformative moment in twentieth century history?

Essay, 2019

10 Pages, Grade: 74


With the end of the Second World War and the seeds being sown for the Cold War, the period between 1944 and 1948 was extremely disruptive, transforming the political and cultural landscapes. In order for it to be labelled 'transformative’, however, one must first understand the events of the past. For example, as many as 60 million people were killed during the war, with the new term ‘genocide’ entering our vocabulary to deal with the mass murder of the European Jews. Though it is important to note the vast incommensurability of events across the globe, there is no doubt that the events of this period had a ubiquitous effect on the world, marking the end of a destructive period of fascist authoritarianism and the dawn of a new political polarity. This essay will argue that, though the ‘transformative’ moments can be attributed to different dates across the globe, the period around 1945 was a fundamental turning point in transnational history, shaping the remainder of the twentieth century. With the redrawing of the world map, a newly intensified ideological polarisation, nuclear proliferation and the formation of the United Nations, the notion of ‘internationalism’ gained a new prominence. Year Zero, as it was later dubbed by the likes of Ian Buruma, revealed an entirely new world order with a particular focus on the emerging Cold War: it truly was a transformative moment in global history.

Following the devastation wrought by the Second World War, the world map was redrawn, notably with the division of Germany and later, the establishment of Israel in 1948. At the Yalta and Potsdam conferences, it was decided that Germany would be split into four zones of occupation administered by Britain, France, the USA and the Soviet Union. [1] Though originally simply a way to quash German power and prevent another World War, the division of this state had wider and more prolonged consequences than originally intended: with the eventual creation of East and West Germany in 1949, the boundaries of the ideologically polarised world were formalised and the ‘iron curtain’ descended on Europe. The separation of the two Germanies was certainly a transformative moment for the rest of the twentieth century as it (and later the Berlin Wall) became the symbol of the division of communism and capitalism, intensifying and embodying the Cold War.

Similarly, the creation of Israel in 1948 has had profound consequences in the Middle East, inciting bitter animosity between the new state and Palestine, dating back to the genesis of the question in the wake of the Holocaust. [2] There is no doubt that the talks initiated in 1945 in the General Assembly drastically altered the rest of the twentieth century: for Palestine in particular, society was shattered with the expulsion and exodus of nearly 1.4 million Arabs. [3] It also unveils the lasting influence of American and UN policy, most notably their support of Israel and the failure of the partition plan which handed 55% of Palestine to the heavily-armed, Zionist Jewish minority of about 33%. [4] Thus, with war still raging in the area and the dispute remaining at the forefront of international attention to this day, the Middle Eastern events of this era had radical repercussions in the latter half of the twentieth century.


[1] Purdue, A. (2016). ‘The Transformative Impact of World War II.’ EGO. [online] Available at: [Accessed 21 Apr. 2018].

[2] Khalidi, R. (2014). ‘1948 and after in Palestine: Universal Themes?’, ’Around 1948: Interdisciplinary Approaches to Global Transformation’, Critical Inquiry, 40, p.331.

[3] Ibid. p.314.

[4] Ibid. p.325.

Excerpt out of 10 pages


Is 1945 a transformative moment in twentieth century history?
Oxford University
Catalog Number
ISBN (eBook)
modern, history, 1945, transformative, transformative moment, modern history, world history, paradigm shift, postwar, year zero, cold war, global history
Quote paper
Sam Hines (Author), 2019, Is 1945 a transformative moment in twentieth century history?, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


  • No comments yet.
Read the ebook
Title: Is 1945 a transformative moment in twentieth century history?

Upload papers

Your term paper / thesis:

- Publication as eBook and book
- High royalties for the sales
- Completely free - with ISBN
- It only takes five minutes
- Every paper finds readers

Publish now - it's free