1968: Europe in Technicolour

Martin Klimke

in The Oxford Handbook of Postwar European History

Published in print May 2012 | ISBN: 9780199560981
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191749490 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in History

 1968: Europe in Technicolour

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  • European History
  • Contemporary History (Post 1945)


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Even after more than four decades, the events of the tumultuous year 1968 still mesmerise and polarise Europe, both culturally and politically. Although prominent representatives of the continent's student revolt have called for people to ‘forget 68’, Europeans have entered the historicisation and memorialisation process for this period with vigour. Among the causes and contexts of the social movements, acts of dissent, and youthful revolts that are commonly subsumed under the cipher ‘1968’, the Cold War and the division of Europe after 1945 usually enjoy pride of place, although these were by no means the only influences. The rapid demographic changes after World War II were probably the primary force that shaped the context in which the opposition of the youth was to unfold. The postwar baby boom reached its climax in 1947, coinciding with a massive economic growth in many Northern and Western European countries that reached into all segments of society and proved particularly beneficial to the lower middle and working classes.

Keywords: Europe; youth; 1968; social movements; dissent; revolts; Cold War; World War II; baby boom; economic growth

Article.  9739 words. 

Subjects: European History ; Contemporary History (Post 1945)

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