Saturday's 60th anniversary celebrations of the signing of the Treaty of Rome on March 25, , which provided for the establishment of the European Economic Community EEC that was later called the European Union, had its genesis in when Robert Schuman , French foreign minister , proposed the creation of a European Coal and Steel Community ECSC , where countries would pool coal and steel production. Jean Monnet , a French civil servant , was the inspiration for the move and it was in response to French worries that the biggest Western European concentration of coal mines and steel production was in two areas in West Germany: the Ruhr Valley, and the Saarland — the Allies had already imposed output ceilings and the Saarland was a semi-autonomous region from to in the late s France again was in worry mode, this time about German reunification, and France succeeded in pushing Germany into actively supporting the development of a single currency.
In at the Swiss University of Zurich, Winston Churchill , then former British prime minister, had delivered a speech on the future of Europe. The Schuman Declaration said that the proposed ECSC would make war between historical rivals France and Germany "not merely unthinkable, but materially impossible" and the founding members: France, West Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg, can be proud that not only has there been the longest period of peace between major powers in Europe in over 2, years of written history, but it has coincided with an unprecedented prosperity that in most experts thought inconceivable — after all, most of the leading industrial nations of the world by had left Europe a wasteland, following three decades of war and economic misery.
When Ireland joined the EEC in along with the United Kingdom and Denmark, it was the poorest country in Western Europe and the first enlargement began a pattern where poor countries were admitted to the Community named the European Union from January along with wealthy ones such as Sweden and Austria. See page xi here. By any measure, the enlargement to 28 countries and the development of the European Union from the wasteland in the aftermath of World War II, has been a remarkable success of gigantic proportions. The peace also marked the decline of the political power of the Papacy of the Roman Catholic Church.
Voltaire , the famous French writer , wrote in The Peace of Westphalia did not stop Europeans fighting each other and Louis XIV who was 10 years old when the process of signing the treaties had begun, had already been King of France for 5 years. Louis assumed full powers after the death in of Cardinal Mazarin his mentor and ruled in total for a European record of 72 years. Louis XIV also wrecked the French economy through triggering the exodus of French Protestants by revoking in the Edict of Nantes that since had recognised their rights.
In largely agricultural France, the Huguenots came from towns where they were skilled craftsmen and professionals involved in a wide range of skills. James J. The Transformation of Modern Europe ":. Prof Sheehan wrote that throughout the second half of the nineteenth century, European manufacturing and agricultural production increased dramatically. Despite a growing population, per capita income rose, as did gross domestic product.
Growth was geographically uneven and its benefits unequally distributed, but by European society was becoming increasingly orderly, peaceful, and prosperous. However, while they lived in peace, Europeans at the beginning of the twentieth century constantly confronted the possibility of war. Otto von Bismarck , the German chancellor , had told a Russian diplomat in Security meant creating and sustaining the kind of army necessary to fight and win a modern war. In neighbouring Serbia there were demands to annex the areas in Bosnia-Herzegovina with significant Serb populations. Meanwhile, the UK worried about Germany's growing industrial strength and it opted to align with its traditional rivals: France in and Russia in Italy had in signed a secret alliance known as the Triple Alliance, with Germany and Austria-Hungary.
June 28, in Sarajevo, capital of Bosnia-Herzegovina, it was St. Vitus Day — an important day for Bosnian Serbs, as it was a commemoration of the Battle of Kosovo in where the Serbs were defeated by the Turks. Bosnian Serbs as in the s wished to unite with Serbia and year old Gavrilo Princip, a Bosnian Serb, fired two fatal shots at the visiting Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne, and his wife , who were on their way to the City Hall.
The Austro-Hungarian Empire declared war on Serbia and within weeks with the tangle of alliances that had developed from the unification of Germany in , the five great powers in Europe: United Kingdom, Germany, France, Russia and the Austro-Hungarian Empire, were at war. After four years of carnage a Peace Conference opened in Paris on January 18, John Maynard Keynes , the renowned British economist of the European inter-war years, was a member of the British delegation at the Versailles Peace Conference where the post European map was drawn up by the victorious allies.
He foresaw that a vengeful peace would have baleful economic consequences for both victors and vanquished.
Winston Churchill , the British political leader, wrote in on the ending of hostilities in , that "a knell rang in the ears of the victors, even in their hour of triumph. Men will not always die quietly. For starvation, which brings to some lethargy and a helpless despair, drives other temperaments to the nervous instability of hysteria and to a mad despair. The United States emerged from the Second World War as the world's hegemon, and its only rival was the Soviet Union, which had extended its areas of communist control to include the captured territories of Eastern Europe.
Protectionism encouraged global rivalry for markets and colonies. In fact, World War I was fought, in part, for global market share. Production revived after the war, but so did the pre-war problem of finding markets for surpluses. Other factors made the competition vicious, especially between the European industrial and naval rivals Britain and Germany.
The huge costs of the war, together with the determination of the victors to make Germany and Austria pay reparations, led to an international trading and finance system that depended on a complicated and unstable system of international loans. American bankers loaned money to Germany to pay off its British and French creditors, who were also indebted to American bankers.
When those bankers began pulling their money back, the global economic system crashed.
Notions, Institutions, and Practices of Landownership in the Twentieth Century
Industrial output, farm production, and employment plummeted. But declining demand in those regions also hurt producers of rubber, minerals, and other raw materials in Latin America, Africa, and much of Asia. For a time, it seemed that, as Marx had predicted, the entire capitalist system was on the verge of collapse. Most governments reacted by cutting expenditures and raising import barriers, which further disrupted the economic system. Eventually, many governments realized that they could spend their way out of the Great Depression.
Government spending stimulated employment by putting cash into the pockets of wage earners, who in turn bought more consumer goods, raising production.
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Between and , governments of industrialized countries took on economic roles never before seen in history. In France, Germany, Japan, Britain, and the United States between and , government expenditure rose as a percentage of total GDP from about 12 percent to about 28 percent. In the USSR in the s, the government seized control of the entire economy. The US, the Soviet Union, and Japan all emerged as major economic and military powers, and by the end of the era, Europe was no longer the dominant center of strong growth.
Comparative growth rates in the table below tell the story:. The most powerful growth stimulator, however, turned out to be rearmament for war. By the late s, all the major economic powers, including Japan and the US, as well as European states, were engaged in massive arms buildups. This fueled growth, but it also reawakened old rivalries.
The Great War. The two world wars together were a major cause of change in the global distribution of power. The wars had many causes, including competition for markets and colonies and a centuries-old tradition of military competition among European countries. In the late nineteenth century, the major industrialized states used their increasing economic and technological power to build up stocks of modern weapons such as machine guns and battleships.
They also prepared for war by forging alliances that committed each country to the defense of its allies. The dangers of this system became apparent when Archduke Francis Ferdinand, the heir to the throne of the Austro-Hungarian empire, was assassinated by a Serbian nationalist in June World War I proved more horrifying than anyone could have imagined, and it demonstrated the colossal destructive power available to industrialized states. The conflagration showed a dark side of the modern revolution. Machine guns, long-range artillery, and mustard gas killed soldiers by the millions.
Aircraft strafed and dropped bombs on soldiers and civilians. These weapons worked so well in holding defensive positions that decisive attacks were almost impossible. On the home fronts of all the states involved, the huge power concentrated in modern governments and industrial economies was harnessed for the fight. Civilians played as vital a role as soldiers and also accounted for an increasing number of casualties.
Because the rivalries that caused the war were worldwide, so was its impact. In , the US entered the war against Germany and its allies. US supplies, troops, and money, together with the huge economic and agricultural resources of the British and French empires, eventually tipped the balance against the central European powers.
On November 11, , Germany signed an armistice. By then, 15 million soldiers had died and another 20 million had been injured. Millions of civilians died as well, and destruction of infrastructure, industries, and farmland was colossal. The end of the war left the liberal capitalist system facing many daunting challenges.
The Paris Peace Conference stripped Germany of its colonies and saddled it and Austria with the burden of paying reparations, that is, much of the cost of the war. It also created the League of Nations, the first fledgling world deliberative body, whose primary mission was to prevent future military catastrophes. The League had little independent power, however, and the punitive peace treaty of ensured that Germany and Austria would continue to nurse resentments. The rise of the Soviet Union. In the late nineteenth century, the Russian Empire tried hard to industrialize to keep up with the rest of Europe.
He used planning techniques pioneered by wartime governments and much of the technology invented in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, from railways to radios. He ruthlessly seized Russian peasant lands, thereby eliminating the last remaining bastions of capitalism.
Central Europe in the Twentieth Century | An Economic History Perspective | Taylor & Francis Group
The strains and costs of compulsory industrialization were great, including a massive famine, creation of forced labor camps, and political purges that by the s cost the lives of several million people. This success inspired some political leaders and revolutionaries in other lands, including western European countries and their colonies, to take up the Communist vision of the future.
Though communist movements made little headway in most places, the Communist leader, Mao Zedong, achieved victory in China. Fascist governments. Nazism built on the sense of despair that World War I, the Depression, and the punitive war reparations caused among Germans.
ISBN 13: 9780006342601
Nationalism in the colonized world. In colonized regions of the world, nationalist leaders began to challenge European control, many inspired by the liberal democratic traditions of Europe and the US, some inspired by communism and fascism.
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Consequently, the British and French empires not only survived the war but became even bigger. However, Turkey, the heartland of the former Ottoman empire, emerged from the war as an independent state under the leadership of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk. Nevertheless, nationalist movements for reform and independence began to come together in the colonies.
In India, the Indian National Congress, first established in , became a powerful supporter of independence. In Mohandas Gandhi it found an inspirational and creative leader.