Modern European History Series: Post-War Europe
Date: June 2006
Duration: 2 hours 41 minutes
Cold War Impact. The Marshall Plan providing economic aid to West Europe is also a Cold War defense. The economic benefit to the U.S. of a war economy. It is part humanitarian, part economic self-interest. The military alliance of NATO and the U.S. policy of containment of communism. There is no evidence of Russian aggression toward Western Europe. (6.07.00) = Scandinavia: Norway. Had broken away from Sweden in the past. A mixed economy with capitalist and socialist aspects.
Sweden. A substantial power in the past. Maintained neutrality during the wars. Mixed economy. A less violent society. Denmark. A kingdom. Notably rescued its Jews during the Nazi occupation of World War II. Finland. Ethnically different. Long struggle for independence from Russian domination. (16.47.00) = Baltic Countries: Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia. Swedish influence in the past, then mainly Russian. Had been independent after Treaty of Versailles, then emergence of pro-fascist, anti-Russian attitude, and anti-Semitism. After World War II, Russia takes them over. Independent again after collapse of USSR, but currently hard times and rise in anti-Semitism. (27.27.00) = Poland. Its history dates back to medieval times. Abused by its neighbors in modern European history. Has a distinct ethnicity and language. Past Jewish population in the millions. The Treaty of Versailles made it independent. History of dictatorship, pro-fascist elements, and long tradition of anti-Semitism. Roman Catholic dominance. Poland becomes major issue in the Cold War. Growing resistance against communism and Russian control. The Solidarity Movement and the 1990s struggle for democratic institutions, though autocratic elements remain. (32.53.00) = Romania. Unique language and ethnic background. Independent after World War I, turns to fascism. Russia dominates during the Cold War. Communist dictator is independent from Russia, but imposes a harsh and brutal regime. He is executed when USSR collapses. Guarantees of daily life under communism now lost. Future is uncertain. (37.01.00) = Hungary. Has distinct ethnicity, language not Slavic, not Romance. Had been connected to the Austrian empire ruled by the Hapsburgs as a dual monarchy. The empire collapses after World War I, becomes a fascistic dictatorship with strong anti-Semitism. During the Cold War is part of the East European block controlled by Russia. U.S. encourages but fails to support the Hungarian Revolution in 1956 and it is crushed by Russia. After the collapse of USSR, there are positive signs of democratic growth. (42.09.00) = Czechoslovakia. Consists of various ethnic groups. It is the only nation that moves toward democracy after World War I treaties of independence, but is betrayed by the West to Germany. After World War II it holds off Russian control for a few years, gains a fleeting period of independence and freedom under Dubechek in 1958, but is crushed by Russia soon after. Since the fall of communism, the nation breaks apart into the Czech Republic and Slovenia. The Czech Republic is more advanced industrially than Slovenia to the east. (49.19.00) = Austria. Historically part of the Austria-Hungarian Empire. The proud cultural heritage of Vienna. History of anti-Semitism. The empire collapses after World War I. In the Anschluss of 1938, Austria largely welcomes its takeover by Germany. After the end of World War II, it is occupied and divided into east and west sections. It is unified and fully independent after the occupation ends. Its Nazi past remains as a dark shadow (42.56.27) = Bulgaria. (51.40.00) = Yugoslavia. Made up of a variety of states and ethnicities and becomes independent after World War I. Tito leads the underground resistance against German occupation during World War II. After the war Tito leads Yugoslavia as a Communist country free from Russian control. The ethnicities held together by Tito fall apart when he dies. What follows is ethnic rivalries, brutal violence, ethnic cleansing between independent countries that result. It remains a much unsettled area. (57.00.00) = Albania. Created by World War I treaties, invaded by fascist Italy, liberated by Russia in World War II. Post-war government is a Mao-Communist version, creating a closed, harsh society and leadership. It remains backward. (58.20.00) = Greece. Has an ancient glorious tradition. Past rule by the Ottoman-Turkish Empire leaves ethnic animosity between the Greeks and Turks, especially apparent in Cyprus. Assigned to British sphere of influence at the end of World War II. This is resisted by Greek communists which get no aid from Russia. The British army prevails. A military coup in the mid-1950s and a period of ruthless dictatorship. There is a return to civilian control after a ruined economy. There are swings to the right and left as Greece struggles to find its way in the modern world. (1.02.13.00) = Italy. From various states 2 Italys emerge-- the industrial north with fair haired people and the rural south with dark haired people. Poverty spurs a major migration to the U.S. from the south. Unification by Garibaldi in 1870 opposed by the Church. It is a diverse country with many language dialects, struggling with modernization. Forms alliance with Germany and Austro-Hungarian Empire in World War I but shifts to the Allied side. The country is in disarray after the war and Mussolini, a former socialist, takes power in 1922 under fascism. Conquest of Ethiopia and Albania. During World War II allied to Germany, it is occupied by Germany after the Allied invasion of 1943. After the war a republic is established. Electoral process is tainted by the U.S. The Christian Democratic party, linked to the Church gains power. Its long rule becomes associated with corruption. Joins the European community. Its independence from Russia is a Western counterweight to the Eastern block. Italy continues to struggle for a modern identity. (1.13.55.00) = Spain. Economically impoverished. Civil War ends in 1939 with fascist Franco in power. Remains neutral but pro-Nazi during World War II. Post-war, Franco keeps strangle-hold on the country until his death. King Carlos returns to power, brings stability. Separatist movements , especially the Basques in the north, create much violence. An open question of the future depends on resolution of the violence. (1.17.33.00) = Portugal. Not highly developed. Salazar is dictator. When he dies, the country become more open, similar to Spain. Its struggle to modernize has its ups and downs. (1.29.23.00) = France. The French Revolution. Conflicts over whether to be a republic or not. Anti-Semitism and the Dreyfus Affair. Prolonged wars between France and England. Allied with England in World War I. Although victorious in the war, it is diminished by it. Occupied by Germany in 1940. Major underground resistance by French communists during the occupation. D-Day and liberation. Post-war, the French communists cooperate with the Allied troops. De Gaulle, craving power, retreats into the background, followed by a period of instability. The brutal French-Vietnam war from 1946 to 1954, and the Algerian War from 1954 to 1962. De Gaulle returns, resists American control, get France out of NATO, asserts French independence. He lets Algeria, a French colony since the 1820s, become independent., leaving the military feeling betrayed. France advises the U.S. against the Iraq invasion. (1.41.14.00) = The Low Countries. Netherlands. . Relies on its dykes to hold back water to allow for farming. Has substantial colonial empire. Their rule of the Dutch East Indies, now Indonesia, iss harsh. It has a high population density. Amsterdam and canals are notable. The country enters modern life as an open society tolerating drugs and its red light district. It is currently part of the unification of Europe. (1.43.29.00) = Belgium. Distinct ethnic groups. Dense population of German and French heritage. Highly industrialized. Part of United Europe. Imperial past. Brutal German invasion in World Wars I and II. Loss of Belgium Congo after long period of exploitation. Finding its way in post-World War II Europe.
Switzerland: Controversial banking industry history about secret bank accounts and banking relations with the Nazis involving Jewish funds seized from Jews during the World War II Holocaust. (1.04.00) = Germany. After its defeat in 1945, Germany is divided into West Germany allied to the West, and East Germany allied to Russia. There are ways in which Germany comes to terms with its Nazi past, and the ways in which it does not. U.S. motivation for helping former Nazis escape punishment. The contrast between development in West Germany and East Germany. The Berlin Wall dividing the two Germanys comes down after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, and Germany reunifies. Since then the German leadership variously veers right and left, assets its independence, leaving relations with the U.S. somewhat tenuous. Its opposition to the U.S. invasion of Iraq is an example. Germany will continue to be a central element in future world events. (13.48.00) = Russia. Victorious in World War II but is left in ruins. Expects friendly borders in East Europe. Makes accommodations with the West because of weakness and self-interest. After Stalin's death in 1953, Khrushchev emerges as his successor. In a stunning move he soon reveals publicly the full extent of Stalin's crimes, creating the sense of a "thaw," Encouraged, a Hungarian Revolution succeeds briefly but is brutally crushed by Russia. The episode of lost opportunity for further detente between U.S. and Russia when President Eisenhower's initiative is aborted by Russia's discovery of clandestine C.I.A. spy planes over their territory, which Ike is unaware of. The Cuban missile crisis is the closest the world comes to nuclear war, and ultimately leads to Khrushchev's downfall. His successor, Brezhnev, enacts some treaties to lessen the chance of war with the U.S., but suppression continues enforced by a class of entrenched bureaucracy. Russia rebuilds from the rubble of World War II into the second most powerful country after the U.S. Its effort to guarantee the people's everyday needs has its bright side and its dark side. After Brezhnev, a new leader emerges who becomes a crucial figure in Russian history, Mikhail Gorbachev. His goals are reform and openness while maintaining a socialist society and dealing with the U.S. He plays a positive role in ending the Cold War. He bears the burden of the rapid collapse of Communism, which he did not intend. Boris Yeltsin takes power and applies the shock therapy of the free market and a move to unfettered capitalism. It is mostly a disaster. Life for the average Russian becomes harsher because of loss of guaranteed benefits. Widespread corruption. A few become wealthy from acquiring state property. Vladimir Putin becomes leader in 1996, yet major elements of dictatorship remain. Growth of ultra-nationalism and increase in anti-Semitism. The issue of the safety of nuclear power. Russia's brutal actions in Chechnya and Afghanistan. Russia is an unfinished story. Will it become a new dictatorship? --a major world power? --a liberalized potential for creative life? (37.36.00) = England. Victorious in World War II but much weakened. The Labor Party comes to power after the war ends in 1945, remaining until 1951. Ushers a golden age for the average worker with universal health care and employment benefits. Power shifts back and forth between Labor and Conservative governments. Collapse of the British Empire in the 1940s and 1950s is hard to accept. The Suez Canal crisis with Egypt in the 1950s. Economic growth and the welfare state continue. England comes to grips with being second-fiddle to the U.S. Margaret Thatcher's Conservative Party rules in the 1980s, is a parallel to the Reagan years during the same period. The government takes no responsibility for large numbers of workers displaced by technology, especially in the heavily industrialized north, and the workers suffer greatly. This is now a free market period of unfettered capitalism. The Falkland Islands War with Argentina is a British show of international force. The Labor Party is back in power with Tony Blair who moderates the conservative years of Margaret Thatcher, but is to the right of traditional Labor. England's relationship with U.S. and Blair's strong support of the U.S. invasion of Iraq. Scotland, which becomes part of the U.K. in the 1700s, is granted more autonomy in response to rising Scottish nationalism. Wales, with its distinct ethnicity and language also exerts nationalistic pressures. (48.38.00) = Ireland. Its long history is scarred by excessive tragedy. Ireland remains neutral during World War II. Ireland's literary tradition. Continued impoverishment and loss of population. The country remains mostly rural outside of Dublin. North Ireland, which has been Protestant since the 1600s, is divided from Ireland, generating ongoing violence. This conflict is based on class as well as religious hatreds. Prospects for conciliation are uncertain. Ireland is modernizing despite the Church's traditional resistance to change. There is economic progress in the technical area. Irish youth are now more willing to stay, mainly in the cities where economic development is happening. These changes are helping Ireland to better take its place in Europe and the world. (51.02.00) = Major Issues in Modern Europe. Immigration: A response to extreme poverty. Although wage scales may lower in the host countries, immigrants see it as an improvement in their lives. Traditionally they work hard to help families left behind. They bring different ethnicities, traditions, and values. Clashes in host countries are based on xenophobia. European business want immigrants as cheap labor. Immigration is a source of ongoing struggle and problems. (55.52.00) = European Union: The need to create an economic bloc to compete with the U.S. as the one superpower. Problems include nationalism and economic conflicts. Barriers from the Cold War affect the role of East European countries with their sense of fear and uncertainty. Yet, there is also a sense of hope.