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10-08-2015, 22:14


At the end of World War II, European civilization was in ruins. Almost forty million people had been killed in six years. Massive air raids and artillery bombardments had reduced many of the great cities of Europe to rubble. An American general described Berlin: “Wherever we looked, we saw desolation. It was like a city of the dead. Suffering and shock were visible in every face. Dead bodies still remained in canals and lakes and were being dug out from under bomb debris.” Millions of Europeans faced starvation as grain harvests were only half of what they had been in 1939. Millions were also homeless. Millions more had been uprooted by the war; now they became “displaced persons,” trying to find food and then their way home. Between 1945 and 1970, Europe not only recovered from the devastating effects of World War II but also experienced an economic resurgence that seemed nothing less than miraculous. Economic growth and virtually full employment continued so long that the first postwar recession, in 1973, came as a shock to Western Europe. It was short-lived, however, and economic growth returned. After the collapse of Communist governments in the revolutions of 1989, a number of Eastern European states sought to create market economies and join the military and economic unions first formed by Western European states.