Europe's 1950s: reconstruction and reconciliation; confrontation and oppression

Kjell M. Torbiörn

in Destination Europe

Published by Manchester University Press

Published in print December 2003 | ISBN: 9780719065729
Published online July 2012 | e-ISBN: 9781781700488 | DOI:
Europe's 1950s: reconstruction and reconciliation; confrontation and oppression

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Reconstruction in Western Europe, completed by the early 1950s, led to unbounded optimism about future economic growth and to a strong desire for closer integration. Following the creation of the Council of Europe in 1949 among ten West European countries, six went further in 1951 by founding the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC). After attempts to set up a European Defence Community and a European Political Community failed in 1954, negotiations between the ‘Six’ (belonging to the overall successful ECSC) in 1957 led to the creation of the European Economic Community. However, West European integration projects and Central and Eastern European adaptation to Soviet communism were overshadowed (and intensified) by pronounced East–West tensions, as expressed in the 1950–3 Korean War, the formal division of Germany into two states with a divided Berlin deep in East German territory and the Soviet Union's rise to nuclear power status together with the United States. Ideology took over from (dormant) nationalism as the prominent geopolitical force, even though tensions were reduced in the mid-1950s following Joseph Stalin's death.

Keywords: reconstruction; Western Europe; integration; Council of Europe; ECSC; European Economic Community; Korean War; Soviet Union; United States; ideology

Chapter.  7672 words. 

Subjects: European Union

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