The Long Shadow Of World War II

According to a new survey, people, who spend their early life surrounded by the chaos of the World War Two are more likely to suffer from cardiovascular disease, diabetes and depression. Between 62 and 78 million people, which during the Second World War represented almost 3% of the world population, died too early, between 1939 and 1945 as a direct or indirect result of the war.

They lost their lives on battlefields, were killed by aerial bombing or were murdered in concentration camps and almost half of them were civilians. This is most certainly a sign that the consequences of the Second World War are still with us today and that the war had an impact on both the physical and mental health and also on the quality of life, of all those who went to fight for their country and happened to be alive during this bloody conflict.

A new study comes to help to better understand how these children who lived to see all the atrocities taking place in Nazi occupied countries such as Poland or France, were able to adapt to a normal life, after all they have experienced and, in many cases, after loosing their brothers, fathers and grandfathers on the Western Front.

How do they manage to forget, or at least not remember about bombing raids, hunger and displacement, about loosing friends and people they knew? The new study notes that these children, who are now elderly people living among us, are more likely to suffer from cardiovascular disease, diabetes and depression, the Heritage Daily reports.

What is more is that most of these people are less educated or it took them longer to complete their studies and training, with most of them never marring anyone and generally being less satisfied with their lives.

Professor Joachim Winter, co-author of the new study and head of the Department of Empirical Economic Research at LMU, insisted that many of this late effects, for example someone suffering from diabetes after prolonged malnutrition is natural and not surprising at all. Another example would be those likely to suffer from depressive illness during their lives, due to the fact that in some areas children might have seen scenes of particularly hard fighting and bloody battles, constant firing and dead people all around.

In light of the extent of physical damage done by the Second World War and its significance for Europe‘s political and economic development, our knowledge of its long-term impact on those who were directly exposed to it must be regarded as comparatively modest,” said professor Joachim Winter.


Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE