Europe emerged from the Second World War more shattered than from the 1914–1918 war, to the aftermath of which it had hardly properly adjusted before the new conflict began. Unlike 1919 no grand peace conference had been held to confirm the new alignments and it was not until the early 1950s that the true impact of the war became apparent. Although the political map showed less upheaval than in 1918, when so many new states had appeared, vital changes had taken place that signalled the ultimate end of the European Age. There was a steady disintegration of Europe’s overseas empires, whereas marked influence was established in Europe by peripheral great powers — the Soviet Union and the United States. Much of Eastern and Central Europe was swept into a new Soviet imperium by the Red Army, whereas the United States came to exercise great influence among Western European states that sought to hold off any further Soviet advance. The rapid emergence of a Western and Eastern bloc with a deep social, political and economic divide came to a confrontation of stalemate along Winston Churchill’s Iron Curtain, cutting through the heart of the century-old concept of Mitteleuropa that now evaporated into the vacuum left by the collapse of the German Reich.
Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.
- 1.J. I. Servan-Schreiber, Le Défi Americain, in English translation as The American Challenge, Penguin, Harmondsworth, Middlesex (1969).Google Scholar