Like other behind the scenes actions, clean up after the war is a topic rarely discussed. What does happen after the bullets stop flying?
The first thing to happen is the recovery of the dead and restoration of basic necessities. If for no other reason than health concerns, collection and burial or cremation of the dead takes place. Unfortunately, these operations are on going from the end of any war through present. Only a few years ago roughly a dozen Germans from WWI were located in a buried bunker in France and US servicemen are still being removed from the MIA roster every year. Basic necessities such as water, main roads, and electricity are restored first as well.
As militaries pull out, the Victor claims their prizes and returns them to their nation for display, review, inspection, etc. The Victor also begins to depot their hardware for peacetime. In the case of the United States after WWII, aircraft were simply pushed off of carriers, hundreds of ships were sunk as targets, and tens of thousands of small arms were given away.
Months to years after the conflict, disposal of broken down equipment, such as the pictured panzers begins to take place. Ordnance disposal occurs and unfortunately is much like body recovery in that it is an ongoing effort. Last year, Hamburg required the evacuation of 60,000 people because a 1.4 ton bomb was discovered. Older equipment previously stored in depots is either sold as surplus, placed in upgrade programs, scrapped for materials and parts, or disposed of.
Decades after the war, the occasional body is recovered, piece of ordnance disposed of, or artifact recovered. Most reparations payments or recovery plans have expired. The scars on the cities and land have mostly healed.
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