SUBJECTS

EUROPE AFTER WORLD WAR II

HISTORY

  • Specific Objectives and Competences

    • To overcome difficulties through collaboration and understanding.
    • To understand the international institutional architecture that emerged after WWII.
    • To understand the reasons that gave rise to the beginning of the process of European integration.
    • To identify the instruments which were used in the reconstruction of Europe.
    • To understand how its division into rival blocs during the Cold War affected Europe.

    Contents

    • World War II (1939 – 1945) represented a deep-seated trauma for the continent of Europe. The devastation caused by the war made Western Europe’s leaders understand that the future of their states depended upon greater European cooperation and integration.
    • These were the most important consequences of the greatest armed conflict in history:
      • Human cost: almost 60 million deaths, with 40 million of them in Europe. The majority of the victims were civilians.
      • Material cost: important population nuclei and infrastructures were destroyed.
      • Territorial changes: numerous European territories changed hands, while others were occupied and lost part of their sovereignty. This was particularly true of those that fell under the influence of the USSR.
      •   The emergence of a “New World Order”: two great superpowers emerged after the conflict. The USA and the USSR shared out their influence at the global scale within a logical division into rival blocs. This marked the start of the period known as the Cold War. A new type of institutional architecture also began to emerge at the international level. At this point, it is relevant to highlight the creation of the United Nations Organisation, The Council of Europe, the OECD, NATO, the Warsaw Pact, the OSCE and the WEU and the beginning of the process of European integration.

Debates

After WWII, Europe has experienced the longest period of peace in its history. Based on the arguments presented by the committee responsible for awarding the prize (en, no).

Does the EU deserve the Nobel Peace Prize?

Have there been any exceptions to this in Europe during these 60 years of peace?

Maps

>15  The cost of World War II in human lives.. Distribution of civilian and military casualties during WWII.

>15  Defence and security organisations in Europe: NATO and the Warsaw Pact 1990. Countries that were members of the two major defence organisations that existed before the fall of the communist bloc in 1990.

>15  Defence and security organisations in Europe: NATO and CSTO 2013. The Collective Security Treaty Organisation is a new Russian-led military organisation. Comparing this map and the next one, it is possible to appreciate Russia’s loss of influence during the 12 years following the disappearance of the USSR.
On the map, the neutral countries are those that have refrained from supporting or taking part in conflicts involving third party states. On the other hand, the non-aligned states are those which, for different reasons, have not joined any of the security organisations.

>15  Members of the Council of Europe. Map which shows the members of the Council of Europe according to their year of membership

>15  Members of the OSCE. Map which shows the members of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe according to their year of membership.

>15  Organisations of Economic Integration 1961. Membership of different organisations for European integration in 1961.

>15  Organisations of Economic Integration 1973. Membership of different organisations for European integration in 1973.

>15  Organisations of Economic Integration 1986. Membership of different organisations for European integration in 1986.

>15  Organisations of Economic Integration 1995. Membership of different organisations for European integration in 1995.

>15  Organisations of Economic Integration 2013. Membership of different organisations for European integration in 2013.

Videos

12-15  Crash course: World War II (en, 13’13”)

12-15  Crash course: the Cold War (en, 12’06”)

>15  Destruction and reconstruction of Dresden (no sound, subtitles in en, 5’58”)

>15  London (en, 1’22”)

>15  Warsaw (no sound, subtitles in en, 2’36”)

>15  Berlin (no sound, subtitles in en, 1’40”)

>15  WWII (es, 10’45’’)

>15  Germany year zero. Roberto Rossellini, 1947. Italy. 78′

>15  The bicycle thief. Vitorio di Sica, 1948. Italy. 88′

>15 The good German. Steven Soderbergh, 2006. USA. 108′

Images

>15  Dresden ((c) Keystone)

>15  Rotterdam ((c) NARA)

 

External Link

9-12  World War 2: Children at war (en). BBC website about WWII. It also contains resources for teachers.

>15  Chronology of WWII (en)

>15  Resources relating to WWII (en)

>15  Resources relating to WWII (en)

>15  The Nobel Peace Prize for the EU

>15  WEU (en)

>15  OECD (en, fr)

>15  NATO (en, fr, rus, uk)

>15  Council of Europe (en, fr, de, it, rus)

>15  Does the EU deserve the Nobel Prize for Peace? Politicians and other personalities give their opinion as to whether the EU deserves the Nobel Prize for Peace