1939 -- Part 7: The Balance Sheet: Paradoxes and Imponderables
It was published by John Wiley & Sons.
The formation of the European Union in 1991 and the expansion of it to include many countries of the former Soviet bloc made the European Communist world less dramatic.
The treatment of Soviet Jews became an issue in the late 1970s.
The Jewish Question in the Soviet Union became important at this point due to the fact that Communist rule was incompatible with the human rights and popular rule that were defined in the Helsinki Accords.
The Accords were used by dissidents to expose and humiliate Communist leaders in nearly all Communist-ruled countries.
The Soviet Union's intervention in Afghanistan in December 1979 to bolster a pro-Soviet regime became the Soviet Union's version of the American intervention in Vietnam.
The withdrawal of American athletes from the Moscow summer Olympics in 1980 was one of the most resented of which was taken by Carter, who retaliated by boycotting the summer 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles.
Carter had to aid the anti-Soviet forces in Afghanistan, but he initiated a massive expansion of the United States' military expenditure.
Reagan and his advisers calculated that the expenditures in Afghanistan would hurt the Soviet Union's economy.
The 1970s were the most troubled decade in the United States.
Nixon's first term as president was followed by a landslide victory in the elections of November 1972, but his second term ended with his impeachment and resignation in August 1974.
The Vietnam War ended in 1973.
Nixon's downfall and the scandals associated with his presidency caused a worldwide decline in American prestige.
After the failure of a daring military effort to rescue the hostages in Iran, Carter's presidency was marred by acrimony and national humiliation.
Even though the American economy was stronger than that of the Soviet Union, the Vietnam War affected it as well, and the "guns and butter" promised by President Lyndon Johnson simply could not be provided in equal measure.
The rapid economic growth of the postwar decades in Europe and the United States had begun to show fault lines by the late 1960s, but their economies were hit by the Arab-led oil embargo of 1973.
There was a strong link between the Jewish Question and major developments in Europe.
After the war of 1948, the Arab-Israeli conflict worsened.
The Six-Day War of 1967, launched by Egypt and Syria in order to regain control over the Sinai Peninsula and the Golan Heights, reflected the continued refusal of the leaders of virtually all.
Israel's ambitions to expand the borders established in 1948 remained unclear and the cause of increasing suspicion in following years, since the Israelis differed about how much they wanted to expand.
In 1973, the Arab states were unable to translate their huge population advantage into a military victory.
They had a potent weapon in their control of oil resources that they used to place an oil embargo on the United States to punish states that aided Israel in the war.
By the end of the 1970s, the price of oil was ten times that of 1973.
The implications were ominous: The price of a commodity essential to modern industrial production - and one that most European nations lacked - rose with a suddenness never before experienced, with a ripple effect on all economies that depended on OPEC oil.
The price of oil was accompanied by a new phenomenon and a new word: "stagflation."
Economic depression, with its declining or deflated prices, was thought to be opposite of the inflationary pressures that accompanied rapid economic growth.
State expenditures to "prime the pump" used to counter depression, but they now seem to increase inflation without remedying the depressed state of the economy.
For the rest of the century and into the next, Margaret Thatcher's program was a mixture of arcane economic issues and a new emphasis on market incentives.
The 1970s and 1980s have come to be seen as less economically burdensome than Europeans thought.
There was a decline in the annual rate of economic growth from 4.5 percent in the 1950s and 1960s to 2 percent in the 1970s and 1980s, but not an absolute decline.
The rate of growth did not decline as much as it did in the 1880s.
Europeans adjusted in different ways to the oil embargo.
New discoveries of oil fields in the North Sea helped to make Britain and Norway exporters of oil.
There were more positive economic developments.
Britain joined the Common Market in 1973.
Europe was a relatively prosperous area despite the slower growth of the 1970s and 1980s.
At the same time, Europe's economic relationship with the United States was changing in ways that would have been unimaginable at the end of World War II.
Competition between the United States and Common Market countries became a major concern for the United States in the early 1970s, as the United States was running a trade deficit of 10 billion dollars.
Europeans, at least those in the most advanced European economies, were beginning to enjoy greater material welfare than were the Americans.
Economic tensions between Europe and the United States were managed fairly, since both areas continued to recognize their common economic interests, shared values, and enemies.
The economic difficulties of the 1970s and 1980s became more severe because of the deep-seeded historical antipathies within the Soviet bloc countries.
The various economies of the Bloc had evolved in substantially different directions, but, even where there was a slowly rising standard of living, many in the soviet bloc were left dissatisfied.
Hungary, which was brutally repressed in 1956, evolved in relatively liberal directions without major objections from the Soviets.
"Goulash Communism" provided more consumer goods and intellectual freedom than the Soviet Union.
If Germany turned into one of the most efficient secret-police states in history, it made considerable economic progress.
The independent foreign policy of the Communists of Romania was resented by the Soviets because of the poor state of the country.
Since the early years of the Cold War, Yugoslavia has had independence from the Soviets.
Almost all of Europe's states, as well as the United States, Canada, and the Soviet Union, signed the Accords in 1975, promising economic cooperation and mutual aid.
In order to solve their economic problems, western Europe and the United States provided loans, investments, and other forms of economic aid to the Soviet Union.
That tendency meant a rising foreign debt and a dependence on the West.
In a more subtle way, the detente of the 1970s opened eastern Europe to Western influence, however much the Soviet and Eastern Bloc leaders continued in their clumsy efforts to limit cultural "contamination" from the West.
In the 70s, Communism would "bury" the other, but on the Communist side there were growing signs that its members were closer to the grave.
The American president became the most popular Republican in the United States since Eisenhower and also a hero to many in the Soviet bloc.
Communism was far from living up to expectations even if capitalism was having a difficult time.
The collapse of Communist rule in eastern Europe was influenced by developments in Poland.
Poland, as the largest of the soviet bloc countries, was watched with special concern by the soviets, who were hesitant to invade it since it promised to be more bloody than the invasion of Hungary in 1956.
When Gomulka assumed power in 1956, he was relatively popular and made a number of concessions to Polish reality, such as allowing private ownership of land by peasants and giving considerable latitude to the Catholic Church.
He faced angry demonstrations when he increased the price of food in December 1970.
Hundreds of demonstrators were killed by the Polish forces.
Edward Gierek, the new Communist leader, was another disappointment.
There was no doubt that the Polish workers were working and looking for a new leader.
Solidarity is a new trade-union movement.
Solidarity's leading figure, lech Walesa, came to rival Dubcek in the extent to which he was regarded as a heroic figure, lionized inside Poland and out, and was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.
Walesa was a practicing Catholic and a confirmed Polish nationalist.
In the summer of 1980, Poland's workers lost faith in Communist rule and ran out of patience as a result of a series of events.
The communist authorities in Poland doubted that it was possible to violently suppress the strikers since both Polish soldiers and police had begun to fraternize with them.
After over a year of complex maneuvers and negotiations with strike leaders, the Polish army suddenly arrested them and declared martial law.
In order to prevent a Soviet invasion, rule by the Polish military was necessary according to Jaruzelski.
Walesa and other strike leaders were alarmed by the possibility of an invasion.
Military dictatorships had characterized the past in Poland and much of eastern Europe.
Communism wasn't working in this broader sense.
The Christian Democrats and the SPD formed a "grand coalition" in West Germany in 1966.
From 1957 to 1966 the leader of the Social Democratic Party was a popular mayor of Berlin and became foreign minister under the grand coalition.
He became chancellor in 1969 after allied with the Free Democrats.
The office of chancellor has been held by a Social Democrat since 1930.
The country led for over two decades by Christian Democrats is not known for their openness to change, especially in foreign policy.
Many Germans, especially the younger generation, were inspired by Brandt's life story.
On the eve of the Nazi takeover, Brandt was an active member of the left wing of the SPD.
He spent most of the war years in exile.
He hoped to reduce Cold War tensions and enhance West Germany's image as a peace-loving country by 1969 after firmly establishing his anti-Communist credentials.
The Christian Democrats had an uncompromising stance towards the Communists in East Germany.
In 1970 a picture of Brandt kneeling before a monument to the victims of the Warsaw Ghetto became an icon.
He was chancellor for five years.
There is a monument to the Jewish dead in Warsaw.
The appeasement of the Nazis was similar to that of the communists.
The German right wing was more likely to fault him for leaving his country during the Nazi period and taking up Norwegian citizenship than for enhancing the image of the anti-Nazi "good German".
Critics simply believed that any offers to cooperate with Communists were inherently dangerous and better to "bury" them in order to continue a hard-line policy of competition and confrontation.
They were among the millions of Germans who were expelled from Poland and other areas in eastern Europe and still wanted to return to their homes.
The non-aggression pact with the Soviet Union was one of the achievements of Brandt's office, as well as pacts with East Germany and Poland that recognized the Oder- Neisse boundaries with Poland.
The end of World War II, the recognition of European borders, and the agreement to settle international disputes peacefully were all achieved by Brandt's foreign-policy initiatives.
Since the creation of the Federal Republic, Brandt has become Germany's most popular chancellor.
The domestic reforms he could entertain were limited by his alliance with the Free Democrats.
The Christian Democratic Party was replaced as Germany's largest party by the SPD, but it still fell short of an absolute majority of popular votes.
In 1974 the term as chancellor came to an abrupt halt.
One of his advisers was a spy for East Germany, and he felt obliged to resign.
He had been accused of infidelity, problems with alcohol, and bouts of depression.
The spy scandal seems to have led to his resignation.
He was no saint in his personal life, he had worked himself to a state of exhaustion in his foreign-policy initiatives, and the mounting economic repercussions of the oil crisis of 1973.
After he resigned as chancellor, he retained his seat in the Bundestag.
Brandt was replaced as chancellor by a younger man who was closer to the political center of the party but also a more capable manager.
His hard work and efficiency were appreciated even by his opponents, despite his sharp tongue and sometimes patronizing tone.
He was in office for eight years and gave West Germany competent leadership.
German social democracy's high point has been the years in which Brandt and Schmidt were chancellors.
Its domestic achievements were more in the direction of effectively managing modern welfare capitalism, as opposed to the older social-democratic goals of fundamental economic reorganization and social egalitarianism.
Germany made it through the 1970s in better economic shape than other countries where socialist parties had been in power because of the management skills of Schmidt.
The rising percentage of the country's gross national product going to social services, as well as the power of trade unions, came to be a focus of complaint in Britain.
The Conservative and Labour Party prime ministers of the 1970s were frustrated with Britain's trade unions and wanted to rein them in to improve the country's economic performance.
By the end of the 1970s, anti-union sentiment had spread to parts of the population that had previously been sympathetic to Labour, which is why voters turned to the Conservative Party and Margaret Thatcher in 1979.
The appearance of a remarkable personality had implications that appeared decisive, making possible what previously had been considered unthinkable.
Brezhnev ruled for eighteen years, longer than any other Soviet leader.
The Era of Stagnation was the name of most of his rule from 1982 to 1985.
How a man like Gorbachev could assume power in such a country has intrigued many observers.
After a long day in New York, Gorbachev and his wife Raisa are still smiling as they attend a reception in their honor.
Gorbachev had an assertive, fashionably dressed "modern" wife, who was also an intellectual companion to him, in striking contrast to the spouses of Soviet leaders since Stalin's time.
Both professed to be followers of Leninism, yet both put the principles of party rule into question.
Gorbachev was the youngest member of the politburo when he was chosen to lead it in 1985.
Most of the other top members were in poor health.
Communism was supposed to be out-produced capitalism, but the United States and most western European nations were steadily increasing the distance of their already significant lead in production and productivity.
Industrial pollution in the Soviet Union was reaching catastrophic levels.
The nuclear accident at the Chernobyl plant, in Soviet Ukraine, in late May 1986 - a year after Gorbachev had assumed power - took on great importance.
Millions of people were exposed to dangerous levels of radiation because of the initial cover-ups surrounding the Chernobyl nuclear power accident.
The Chernobyl catastrophe was the result of the lack of it.
Free thought and open access to information for the general population had long been dismissed by party leaders as naive and even dangerous, as was "formal" majority rule unguided by Leninist leadership.
Free expression of opinion within the higher party ranks had long been circumscribed.
After Stalin's death and Khrushchev's reforms, the party operated bureaucratically.
The routines and work habits of generations of ordinary Soviet citizens were disrupted by it.
Gorbachev believed that glasnost would increase popularity for Communist rule and that perestroika would improve its economic performance.
His beliefs were found to be wrong on both counts.
The enthusiasm for greater openness detracted from the support for Communist rule.
The initial enthusiasm for reforms got out of control like Dubcek's Communism.
The peoples of most non Russian Soviet republics preferred independence from the Soviet Union when offered a genuine free choice.
In Russian-speaking areas, the Communist Party was unable to get a majority in open elections and a free press.
By the late 1980s, the Soviet Union was facing severe shortages of basic food supplies, and Gorbachev's economic reforms proved less effective than Khrushchev's.
"openness" meant not only open discussion of current affairs but also filling in the many " blank spaces" of Soviet history, as Gorbachev termed them, and that was a large order.
It meant going back over the show trials and mass arrests of the late 1930s, as well as the murders of Polish officers during World War II, which Khrushchev had dubbed the crimes of the Stalin era.
There was a lot of blank space in the history of the Soviet Union that did not correspond to what was being done by the Germans, French, or Italians by the 1980s.
By the late 1980s, few observers expected Communist rule to fall so quickly.
Even though support for Gorbachev waned inside the Soviet Union, he gained his greatest popularity outside it.
He became known as "Gorby" and was awarded the peace prize.
Few recipients deserved it more than he did.
History has rarely seen such profound changes with so little violence.
Gorbachev was not willing to preserve Communist rule with brute force.
The days of Communism's rule in the soviet bloc countries were numbered since he made it clear that they could introduce reforms without fear of soviet military intervention.
In some countries, such as Czechoslovakia, a significant part of the population had at least initially been open to the idea of Communism, but that attitude had not lasted, and in many other areas, such as Poland, a strong majority of the population had always detested Communism.
There were Westernstyle elections in the Soviet Union that allowed non-Communist parties to run and they proved to be the beginning of the end.
Part of the population was attached to the ideals and practices of Communism, but a larger portion wanted to be free of them.
The freedom and prosperity offered by Western-style democracy became more apparent as the Communist parties in western Europe continued to survive.
A man falling into a deep slumber in 1945 and waking up in 2012 would have been more confused than Rip Van Winkle was.
Europe recovered in 2012 beyond anyone's expectations.
Europeans had a level of material prosperity envied throughout the world, even if that prosperity seemed threatened after 2007.
There was a European Union that encompassed twenty-seven countries, seventeen of them under a common currency.
The chancellor of Germany was a woman.
The president of the United States had appointed a woman as his secretary of state.
One of the major issues being considered by the European Union was whether Islamic Turkey would be allowed to join it.
After a decade of sleep, anyone would have been surprised by the changes.
One of the major turning points of European history was 1989 and it was a year of miracles.
The year from late 1989 to late 1990 had a low level of violence, even while events of enormous import were taking place, such as the fall of Communism in eastern Europe and the unification of Germany.
The attacks of September 11, 2001 symbolized the new threats and an unfamiliar world.
Europe's economic future began to look shaky within the next decade.
The area's progress toward unification ran into obstacles.
The "Arab Spring" of 2011) started the destruction of dictatorships in much of the neighboring Arab world, with highly uncertain implications for Europe's long-range future, to say nothing of international relations more generally.
The challenge of fashioning new economic and political institutions in the former Communist lands was overwhelming and celebrations were more short-lived than in the West.
The citizens of the former German Democratic Republic were the most fortunate since they were taken over by a prosperous West Germany and became part of a united Germany.
Germany's status as the economic powerhouse of the European Union made it the most populous country in Europe.
The transition in other areas was torturous.
After the Paris Peace Conference of 1919, liberal-democratic institutions did not last in areas that had little previous experience of them.
The successor states to the Soviet Union were often corrupt and inefficient and reverted to authoritarian rule.
The Orange Revolution of 2004-5 in Ukraine, in which popular demonstrations led to the reversal of previously rigged elections, was one example of the variety in the experiences of the formerly Communist areas.
The transformation of the Soviet Union into the Russian Federation took place by January 1993.
The transformation of Russia from tsarist to Communist rule, from 1917 to 1921, was nothing like this process.
The Russian Federation, with 80 percent of its population ethnic Russian, still extended beyond the Urals into Siberia and included around eighty-five federated areas, with widely varying ethnic mixes, borders that were repeatedly being renegotiated, and different degrees of autonomy being recognized.
The Russian Federation was officially recognized as taking over the state responsibilities of the Soviet Union, including its treaties with other nations and its seat in the UN Security Council.
The fall of the Soviet Union was described by large numbers of people in various polls as a tragedy, and many of them would be happy to see it return.
The events of 1991 were not considered a genuine victory for democracy by a majority of the people surveyed.
In 2000 when a former KGB official, Vladimir Putin, became president, many still yearned for strong leadership, which they got when he oversaw extensive reforms and impressive economic growth.
His popularity was real and he was not like Stalin.
The Cold War was over because one side of the war, the Communists, had splintered from the other side, the liberal democracies, remained relatively strong and stable.
The area of the former Soviet Union had previously unimaginable changes regardless of the various dissatisfactions with developments there.
The break up of the Soviet Union was more than an end to the dream of world revolution; it was also the end of the Russian empire.
The Russian Federation was still the largest country in the world with a half a billion people compared to 300 million in the United States.
The new Russia did not challenge the United States as a major power, but it still has long-range potential for economic growth because of its rich natural resources.
The reunification of Germany in the 1980s was swift and peaceful.
The idea of a united Germany was opposed by non Germans immediately after World War II, and even by the 1980s there was little enthusiasm for it outside Germany.
By 1990 a united German nation was no longer believed to pose the kinds of threats it had in the past, which is why effective countermeasures did not emerge.
The new Germany was 25 percent smaller than the Reich, and Germans showed no signs of expansionist or revanchist designs.
The demolition of the Berlin wall on November 9, 1989 was one of the most stirring events of 1989.
Some of the members of the military and police in East Germany joined in the festivities.
Many years passed before the wall was torn down, in a physical sense but also in a symbolic one.
The integration of the two economies and societies proved to be more difficult than anticipated and a lot of Germans from both sides regret reunification.
Some people believed that life under Communism was more tranquil and less materialistic.
The multiethnic areas once ruled by the Habsburgs were ethnically cleansed from 1939 to 1945, and then "sovietized" in the immediate postwar years.
The Czechs and Slovaks split into separate republics in 1993 after being artificially joined in 1919.
The Czechs could claim that liberal democracy worked well in their republic, whereas the Slovakian Republic got off to a more uncertain start.
Slovakia joined the European Union in 2004.
Yugoslavia was a merger of ethnic groups that failed to establish a sense of common national identity.
The brutal conflicts there in the 1990s were the exception to the generally non-violent transitions from Communism.
In neighboring Romania, where the fall of Communism cost hundreds of lives, and where the country's Communist leader was put to death within a few days, there was an exception.
Ceausescu was a brutal megalomaniac whose violent end came as no surprise, nor was it the cause of much regret thereafter.
In Austria and Hungary, as well as in Poland, parliamentary democracy functioned better than it did during the interwar years.
Poland and Hungary had little or no nostalgia about their Communist past, whereas Austria had a lot of amnesia about its Nazi past.
There was no sudden or miraculous change in western Europe in 1989.
In the 1990s, European economic integration made steady progress.
Financial support from the United States helped overcome the obstacles to economic integration that had arisen in the postwar years.
The Common Market should include communist countries.
Most former Eastern Bloc countries joined in the next two decades, despite the fact that the answer from existing members was hardly enthusiastic.
With international power relationships as well as patterns of trade shifting so extensively after 1989, it was natural to ask if Europe's relationship with the United States should remain the same.
The answers ranged from "Maybe" to "mostly," but the earlier tensions between Europe and the United States, which had been largely contained because of the Cold War, were bound to take on new meaning given the American nation's status as the only superpower.
In 1993 the Common Market became the European Union, a name change that indicated some ambitious projects economically, prominent among them a single currency and more fully integrated banking policies.
The European Union moved in the direction of establishing more powerful political institutions.
The introduction of a single currency, known as the euro, had many positive economic results, but before long it also exposed the challenges and dilemmas of including areas that were much less developed economically and culturally.
The euro's introduction diminished the control of individual states over their economies in ways that exposed deep anxieties about the diminution of the sovereignty of individual nations in the European Union.
Ireland, Spain, and Slovakia are some of the newer countries that have joined the European Union.
The initial reservations about the new members were revived after 2007.
Margaret Thatcher was one of the political leaders who had reservations about the European Union.
She was wary of German unification, but she and other British leaders were most concerned about the implications of adopting the euro, which Britain finally refused to do.
Many of the details of the evolution of the European Union became difficult to evaluate, which is one of the reasons that popular support for the European Union remained passive rather than passionate.
For most of the time between 1989 and 2007, Europeans were enjoying unprecedented levels of material comfort and personal security, despite the acrimony associated with the evolving European Union.
Over a half-century had passed and Europeans had avoided killing one another by the millions; their various quarrels had mostly to do with arcane issues of economic management.
The war between Europe's states seemed to have ended.
National unification in the 19th century faced enduring resistance from various parts of the population and provincial areas, but that resistance had been overwhelmed by "events" (wars, mostly), by rising nationalist intoxication and by charismatic leaders.
The formation of national identity involves many factors, among them powerful myths and associated heroes, but the European Union produced no leaders comparable to Napoleon I.
The European Union after 1993 experienced no threats like those faced by individual European nations in the 19th and early 20th century.
The slowly evolving constitution of the European Union, reaching a crucial point with the Lisbon Treaty of December 2009, was highly detailed and conceptually sophisticated, but few if any observers described it as a document that inspired self-sacrifice.
Most European audiences did not know the words to the anthem of the Union, the "Ode to Joy", even though it was widely recognized for its beauty.
European unification had many cerebral and material attractions, but it lacked the power of nineteenth-century nationalism and the context of nationalist competition.
The "faceless bureaucrats in Brussels," or "Eurocrats," were not embraced with much enthusiasm by Europe's population at large, even though they were respected in some quarters for their technical competence.
Few Europeans were willing to risk their lives to defend the European Union, and no war was fought to establish it.
They were never asked to do that.
Europe was entering an era in which the memories of 1914-45 were not as important to European identity as they used to be.
The memories that were pulled in many directions were fading because of a cluster of new memories and new issues.
The extent to which Europe's tragic past had been truly "mastered" by 2010 must remain meaningless, but there were some inescapable new realities by that date: Most Europeans who had been adults during World War II were now six feet under.
The youths of 1968 were joining the worn-out and retiring, facing the angry rebukes of newer generations for a variety of new problems.
The ironies of history.
The large relative numbers of that retiring generation were among the problems.
By the early twenty-first century, the "age bulge" of those born in the years immediately after World War II was Europe's most daunting challenge as they entered into non- productive retirement.
The issue seemed more ominous due to the declining birth rate of native Europeans and the rising numbers of immigrants with higher birthrates.
There was a growing proportion of Europe's population that was non-European and non-Christian in recent origin.
The extent of the population's integration to European values remained unclear.
The values of those with Christian and European-born forebears were likely to be substantially different.
The immigrants and their offspring represented another age bulge, since they felt less obliged to master Europe's past of 1914 to 1945.
They focused on different aspects of that past, especially its racist attitudes to non Europeans.
Europe's wars and their related horrors weren't important to which recent immigrants had guilty consciences.
They didn't feel any responsibility for the Holocaust.
Most of the Arabs believed that Arab Palestinians had paid a terrible price for Europe's Jewish problem since the state of Israel was established on what they considered to be Arab land.
The books recommended in the Further Reading section for Chapter 25 are relevant for Chapter 26 as well.
is one of the more recent studies of Gorbachev.
The understanding of which has been enhanced by many penetrating works of history can be found in the years 1943-89.
As the recent past nears the immediate present, it presents more problems of perspective and historical understanding.
Modern historical understanding is constantly changing because of things happening in the present and the recent past, which is why professional historians are leery of large-scale conclusions about the meaning of the recent past.