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 Detailed Timeline of European History
Post-War Era (1945-89) << Post-War Status: Each Country >> Recent History (1989-08)

Post-War Status for Each Country (1945 - 1989)
Cold War in Europe, Rise and Fall of USSR (Soviet Union)

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Post-World War Era (1945 - 1989)

Austria
Economy: Allied occupation (USA, UK, FR, USSR) until 1955, inhibited economic growth. Upon end of occupation in 1955, the economy soared.
Government: Democratic Republic
Foreign Policy: Neutrality


Belarus
Economy: Tied directly into Russia's economy, as part of the Soviet Union.
Government: Communist (a republic of the Soviet Union)
Foreign Policy: Controlled by Soviet Union


Belgium
Economy: Similar trend to other N.W. Europe nations. Strong growth in 50s and 60s. Recession in 70s due to drastically increasing oil prices, then continued growth in 80s and 90s.
Government: Constitutional monarchy
Foreign Policy: Joined NATO


Bulgaria
Economy: Communist
Government: Communism
Foreign Policy: Client state of USSR


Czechoslovakia
Economy: Communist. Rapid post-war industrialization. Productivity far greater in Czech lands than Slovakia region for first few decades after WWII, but by 70s, Slovakia had caught up.
Government: Communist
Foreign Policy: Client state of USSR


Denmark
Economy: Typical of NW Europe (strong growth until 70s, slump due to oil crisis of 70s, recovery during 80s)
Government: Constitutional monarchy
Foreign Policy: Joined NATO


Estonia
Economy: Communist – Collectivism – Massive industrialization during Soviet era, but largely designed to serve Soviets, rather than to specifically benefit Estonians.
Government: Communist (a republic of the Soviet Union)
Foreign Policy: Controlled by Soviet Union


Finland
Economy: Capitalistic economy, unlike any other European nation bordering USSR. Similar trend to other Northern European nations, but not as prosperous. Welfare state like Sweden.
Government: Democratic Republic
Foreign Policy: Neutral, joined Nordic Counsel for closer cooperation with Scandinavian countries.


France
Economy: Grew strongly from 1945 to 1975 (known as “Thirty Glorious Years”), but hit a downturn in late 70s like much of the rest of Europe, due to skyrocketing oil prices. Did not rebound as well as other European nations after the downturn.
Government: Democratic Republic. Fourth Republic collapsed, and gave way to Fifth Republic in 1958, triggered by the Algerian War, which divided the country. The Fifth Republic created a stronger presidency, to enable reforms, rather than chaos that resulted from standstills in the Fourth Republic.
Foreign Policy: Initially part of NATO, but withdrew after the Suez Crisis, a major political defeat for France. Therefore, remained officially neutral in the Cold War, but in reality was more aligned with the West (UK & USA). Made the transition from colonial power, with intentions of remaining such, to rapid decolonization after the 1958 Algerian crisis and 1956 Suez Crisis, as the colonial empire proved to be more trouble than it was worth.


Germany
Economy: West Germany – social market economy. A blend of capitalism and socialism, which meant a free market economy without state intervention, yet providing for minimum levels of services/income for citizens (quasi-welfare state). Immediately after the war, Germans lived at near starvation levels, as Allies carried out a policy of de-industrialization for Germany, to punish them for WWII and atrocities, and to diminish them as a threat. 1950s (Economic Miracle) - After punitive sanctions were lifted in 1951 (limiting economic activity, industrial production limits, etc.), West Germany’s economy achieved explosive growth, far exceeding levels achieved at its height during the Nazi era. Growth slowed in the 60s, and hit a downturn in the 70s, typical of much of Europe, due to a steep increase in oil prices. The economy struggled into the late 80s before climbing again. During the early 50s, the East German economy was much worse than West, since Russians were more punitive in their policies, even confiscating machinery to be shipped to USSR for war reparation payments. This caused a large emigration of East Germans into West Germany within the first 10 years after the war, including a large number of skilled workers, worsening the economic differential. This would result in the closing of the border between Russia-occupied East Germany and Allied-occupied West Germany. East Germany’s economy would begin to prosper in the 50s, but never to extent of West Germany's.
Government: West – Democratic Republic; East – Communist State
Foreign Policy: West – Joined U.S.-led NATO, East – Joined Soviet-led Warsaw Pact. West – until 1970, asserted that East Germany was an illegal state, and severed diplomatic ties. Refused to engage in diplomatic relations with any nation that recognized E Germany. After 1970 treaties, relations were normalized.


Greece
Economy:
Turbulent until military authoritarian regime took power, during which it would stabilize (low unemployment, strong growth).
Government: Civil war between communists and anti-communists ended in anti-communist victory in 1949. A constitutional monarchy remained in place until the military junta overthrew the democratically-elected government in a 1967 coup d’ etat. The authoritarian military regime collapsed in 1975, replaced with a democratic republic.
Foreign Policy: Joined NATO. Remained anti-communist.


Hungary
Economy:
Communist – although Hungarians became resistant to Soviet control. Began to implement more free-market policies by the 1960s, enabling a smooth transition to democracy/capitalism upon the collapse of the USSR in 1989-90.
Government: Communist
Foreign Policy: Influenced by USSR, although strong, anti-Soviet sentiment throughout nation.


Ireland
Economy:
The partition with the UK was economically damaging. Lost productive areas in the north to the UK. Ireland was not very industrialized otherwise, and could no longer lean on the industrialized capability of Britain. Ireland came into economic conflict with UK, resulting in an economic war (tariffs placed on each other’s goods), which was far more injurious to Ireland than the UK. Ireland would rebound during the 60s, but would be set back again by the “Troubles” (violence in the north over the territories taken by the UK), and the global economic troubles during the 80s.
Government: Republic (democracy) Religion: Vast majority Roman Catholic Demographics: Stagnant due to economic troubles, high unemployment, therefore large emigration to the U.S. in particular, along with several other nations.
Foreign Policy: Neutral (especially in regards to Cold War), but some distrust of the UK, including economic war with UK in years following WWII.


Italy
Economy:
Tremendous economic growth in 50s and 60s, with a major emphasis on manufacturing. Also experienced a downturn in 70s due to oil crisis, but rebounded nicely.
Government: Democratic Republic.
Foreign Policy: Joined NATO


Latvia
Economy: Communist – Collectivism – Massive industrialization during Soviet era, but largely designed to serve Soviets, rather than to specifically benefit Latvians.
Government: Communist (a republic of the Soviet Union)
Foreign Policy: Controlled by Soviet Union


Lithuania
Economy:
Communist – Collectivism – Massive industrialization during Soviet era, but largely designed to serve Soviets, rather than to specifically benefit Lithuanians.
Government: Communist (a republic of the Soviet Union)
Foreign Policy: Controlled by Soviet Union


Luxembourg
Economy:
Similar trend to other N.W. Europe nations. Strong growth in 50s and 60s. Recession in 70s due to drastically increasing oil prices, then continued growth in 80s and 90s.
Government: Constitutional monarchy
Foreign Policy: Joined NATO


Moldova
Economy:
Communist
Government: Communism
Foreign Policy: Client state of USSR


Netherlands
Economy: Recovered very well after WWII, in part due to the help of the Marshall Plan. Followed general trends of Western Europe (strong growth fueled by strong industrialization, followed by complications due to rapidly increasing oil costs in the 1970s, having a strong effect on nations depending on industrialization, but steady recovery since).
Government: Constitutional monarchy
Foreign Policy: Abandoned neutrality by joining NATO. Lost last piece of colonial empire – Dutch East Indies (Indonesia). Unsuccessful attempt to gain territories from Germany as further war reparations (not approved by USA/UK).


Norway
Economy:
Similar trend to NW Europe (rally in 50s and 60s, slump in 70s due to increasing oil prices, recovery in late 70s), but outperformed most other nations, thanks in large part due to discovery of large oil reservoirs off its coast.
Government: Constitutional monarchy
Foreign Policy: Joined NATO


Poland
Economy: Soviet collectivism sparked revolts and protests. This turmoil held back the economy, which struggled while under Soviet oversight, which ended in 1989.
Government: Communist
Foreign Policy: Aligned with USSR, although frequently defied Soviet rule.


Portugal
Economy: Dictator Salazar moves toward greater economic integration with other European powers, which had a positive effect. Economy corporative, (state planned), where state would establish acceptable wages, prices, inventory levels, etc. Forced to lift such controlling devices in 1968, in order to join the European Community (Predecessor to EU), which had a positive impact. But chaos during 1974 revolution would harm the economy, resulting in economic contraction (companies nationalized again), while other European nations were largely still in a growth pattern.
Government: Dictatorship (authoritarian) until Carnation Revolution in 1974, with the overthrow of the dictatorship (a few years after Salazar had died, as the public did not support his successors). Replaced with democratic Republic. Religion: Vast majority Roman Catholic, although church activity would decline steadily.
Foreign Policy: Largely isolated during the dictatorship, especially in light of armed action carried out against its colonies, as Portugal fought in an attempt to maintain overseas empire. With democratic government, anti-colonial sentiment prevailed among Portuguese public, resulting in independence being granted to most of its colonies.


Romania
Economy:
Communist
Government: Communism
Foreign Policy: Client state of USSR


Spain
Economy: Badly harmed after WWII from sanctions levied by Allies/NATO, due to their friendship towards Nazi Germany. Also suffered from Civil War ending in 1939, resulting in economic depression. Attempts to become economically self-sufficient (i.e. living without international trade) failed spectacularly. The embargoes were lifted in 1953, triggering an economic recovery. Spain went on to experience explosive growth after being reconnected with the global economy, and implementing some free-market reforms. As was the case with most of Europe, Spain suffered an economic downturn in the late 70s and early 80s, due to rapidly increasing oil prices. But it would recover strongly.
Government: Authoritarian dictatorship until Franco’s death in 1975, when it became a constitutional monarchy. As was the case with Portugal, when its larger-than-life dictator died, the mass public would no longer tolerate such a regime centered around hopeful successors. The public instead demanded democratic rule.
Religion: Vast majority were Roman Catholic. As was case with rest of Europe, religious activity waned sharply in post-War era, but due to strong Catholic tradition, Spain did not experience as much of a decline in religiosity as other European nations. Immigration of Latin Americans during this period also bolstered the Catholic Church in Spain.
Foreign Policy: Neutral during Cold War. Lost remaining African colonies.


Sweden
Economy: Similar trend to NW Europe, greater prosperity than what was typical in the 50s and 60s, in large part due to neutrality and non-involvement in WWII. Developed into a welfare state (guaranteed minimum standards of living), but experienced a harder fall than most West European nations with below average performance in 70s and 80s.
Government: Constitutional monarchy
Foreign Policy: Neutral


Switzerland
Economy: Undamaged from WWII, placing them ahead of the game after the war ended. Has remained strong ever since, by featuring some of the most innovative and efficient businesses in the world, since Switzerland is lacking in natural resources that can be easily profited upon.
Government: Federal State (democracy)
Foreign Policy: Neutral


Turkey
Economy:
Instable due to frequent internal strife, and multiple government overthrows.
Government: Democratic Republic
Foreign Policy: Aligned with U.S./the west in Cold War, joined NATO.


United Kingdom
Economy:
Experienced some difficulty after WWII. Damaged by the war, lost most of its overseas empire, and therefore its ability to impose trade policies favorable to UK companies throughout the world. Forced by the U.S. to make British Pound Sterling directly convertible to the U.S. Dollar, giving the U.S. and others direct access to British colonies, and former colonies. The UK Economy continued to stagnate during the 60s and 70s, as France and Germany grew at a much faster rate. However, the massive UK economy remained larger overall, as it was still built upon the strength from centuries as the dominant colonial power, and many years as the industrialized leader. Now, it was becoming more of a service economy, as other nations are able to manufacture at a lower cost. The UK struggled to adapt in finding its niche in this new world where it was no longer dominant. The UK economy turned around in the 1980s, as Margaret Thatcher took on trade unions, which had previously been able to hold the economy hostage. Nationalized companies were also privatized, such as utilities. The worldwide economic boom also uplifted the UK. During this time, the UK was transformed into a welfare state (guaranteed minimum living standards, such as income, health benefits, etc.) that is still in place today.
Government: Constitutional monarchy (democracy)
Religion: After WWII, there was a substantial increase in immigration of people of non Judeo-Christian religions, especially Muslims and Hindus. This resulted in an increase of religious diversity and tolerance. Secularism has steadily risen, as church attendance, belief in God (primarily in Christian churches) has steadily declined.
Demographics: Experienced a baby boom right after the war (50s) followed by decrease in births during 60s, 70s, a trend which has continued. There was also a major increase in ethnic diversity due to immigration from former British colonies, such as India and Pakistan. Significant increase in Muslims and Hindus.
Foreign Policy: Lock and step with the U.S. in opposing the Soviet communist threat as part of the Cold War. Generally granted independence to all colonial possessions that desired sovereignty.


Ukraine
Economy:
Tied directly into Russia's economy, as part of the Soviet Union.
Government: Communist (a republic of the Soviet Union)
Foreign Policy: Controlled by Soviet Union


Russia/Soviet Union
Economy: As was the case in Europe and Japan, USSR/Russian economies enjoyed explosive growth in 50s and 60s, rivaling or surpassing that of western nations. Stagnation during 70s and 80s, as massive size of economy was no longer manageable for economic planners, who refused to give more autonomy to mid-level managers. Contributed to collapse of the USSR.
Government: Communist
Foreign Policy: Cold War; Warsaw Pact; Adamant about maintaining control in its own neighborhood, resulting in military involvement in Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Afghanistan, etc., and proxy support in Vietnam and Korea. Direct military involvement largely backfired, while proxy support proved more successful.


Yugoslavia
Economy:
Communist – Refused to link with Soviet economy shortly after WWII, becoming a Market Socialism economy, communism with free market elements. Economically open to non-communist world. Enjoyed strong economic performance throughout most of its existence.
Government: Communist
Foreign Policy: Neutral, although communist


Next: Recent History (1989 - 2008)

Previous: Post-World War Era (1945 - 1989)

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