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AP EURO SNAPSHOT CHART: 20th Century Europe


State of the Economy

Political Situation


Transnational Issues

Major Social Issue/Problem


Economy struggled with high inflation and unemployment during Great Depression but rebounded after WWII b/c of a prosperous banking and insurance industries, and a strong industrial sector that depends on exports such as machinery, metals, paper, textiles, food, and livestock. Became EU member in 1995.

Revolution in 1918 brought an end to 640 years of Hapsburg rule and established democratic First Republic w/ brief period of authoritarian dictatorship in the 1930s. Second Republic established after WWII and continues to this day.

Austria’s belligerence toward Serbia after Archduke Ferdinand’s assassination in 1914 was major cause of WWI. Fought for the Central Powers in WWI. Nazis invaded and absorbed Austria via the Anschluss (1938). A decade of occupation by Allied Powers after WWII that ended with the signing of the 1955 state treaty that guaranteed Austrian unity in the Cold War in return for neutrality.

Rich cultural heritage in music, the visual arts, and philosophy


Rebuilt quickly after WWI. France handled the Depression better than France or Germany due to its more agricultural economy and the buffer of its global empire. France became a major industrial producer and exporter (esp. automobiles and armaments) as President de Gaulle nationalized traditional industries and centralized economic policy causing GNP to grow substantially. However, these same policies led to large gov’t deficits and high cost of living that would continue to plague France until the turn of the 21st century.

Third Republic was a volatile situation w/ moderates dominating the government and battling Communists and Socialists. An alliance b/t all 3 groups was needed in 1936 to stop the growing French fascists. Another weak republic followed WWII, until Charles de Gaulle established the strong presidency of the 5th Republic. The Socialist Party controlled the gov’t for much of the 1970s and 1980s as France turned to the policies of Francois Mitterand to improve the economic situation. The failure of the economic policies of the Socialists led France to turn conservative parties and President Jacques Chirac in the 1990s.

Fought on the Allied side in WWI. Support of the “harsh peace” forced on Germany by the Versailles Treaty led to a brief occupation of the Ruhr Valley (1921). Invaded and conquered by Nazi Germany in 1940. Cold War era witnessed France lose its colonial empire in a series of bitter wars (esp. in Algeria and Indochina) .France attempted to regain its lost status as a world power under President de Gaulle who removed France from NATO and invested heavily in nuclear arms. After WWII, France became a key player in European integration as one of the founding members of the ECSC and “Common Market”

A series of strikes, riots, and demonstrations by students in 1968 forced President Charles de Gaulle to resign. Resent against immigrants (esp. from North Africa) and difficulty integrating its Muslim population plagued France around the turn of the 21st century


Post WWI economy took a long time to rebuild due to hyperinflation and massive reparations. Hit extremely hard by the Great Depression, it’s extremely high unemployment only brought down by Hitler’s rearmament. West Germany rebounded after WWII to become the continent’s economic giant with a combination of potent export industries, fiscal discipline, and consensus-driven industrial relations and welfare policies. The former Soviet-dominated east has struggled to catch up with the west since reunification, while people in the west have had to pay a higher than expected financial price for unity.

Second German Empire under Kaiser Wilhelm II gave way to Weimar Republic via a revolution in 1918. Moderate businessmen successfully guided Weimar through the 1920s until pended by the Great Depression. Totalitarian dictatorship under Nazi Germany followed. A thriving democratic gov’t was installed after reunification in 1991 and has been stable ever since.

German uber-nationalism and militarism was one of the major long-term causes of WWI, as was the “blank check” given to Austria-Hungary a major short-term cause. Ruhr valley briefly occupied after WWI by France. Hitler’s rearmament and unbridled expansion was the major short term cause of WWII. After WWII, Germany was divided into a democratic West and communist East. In the 1950s West Germany was one of the six founding nations of the European Economic Community from which the European Union eventually developed and in which Germany is a key player. Franco-German cooperation was central to European economic integration in the 1980s and 1990s.

Dealing with the legacy of its Nazi past (denazification) has been difficult. An ageing population has led to concern over the continued viability of Germany's high welfare and health spending. There is also a debate about how to improve integration of the many post-war immigrants whose labor helped fuel the economic boom.


Post-World War II Greece saw rapid economic and social change, with tourism and shipping becoming major contributors to the economy.

Became a republic in 1824 though monarchy kept as figurehead. Fell victim in 1930s to authoritarian dictatorship. A republican form was established and Greece joined NATO in 1952, though this gov’t fell to military coup in 1967. A republic was restored in 1973 and has existed ever since.

Fought alongside Allies during WWI but promises for territories in Asia Minor not kept in Versailles Treaty. Conquered by Nazi Germany in WWII. Greece joined EC (later EU) in 1981. Has long been at odds with its close neighbour, Turkey, over territorial disputes in the Aegean and the divided island of Cyprus. Has been in dispute since the early 1990s with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. Greece contends that the use of the name Macedonia by the neighbouring country implies a territorial claim over Greece's own region of the same name. The UN is involved in continuing mediation efforts.

Student protests and demonstrations against the military junta in the 1970s. Issues assimilating its immigrant population.


High unemployment and inflation plagued post-WWI Italy. Mussolini attempted to revive the economy by establishing a corporate state. Experience a post-WWII “economic miracle” with help from the Marshall Plan. Production of electrical appliances, cars, and office machinery helped boost economic growth. Heavy industry was controlled partly by private enterprise and partly by the gov’t. Severe economic recession hit in the 1970s due to its dependence on foreign oil. Remarkable economic growth followed in the 1980s.

Struggles of post-WWI Italy gave rise to Mussolini’s Fascist dictatorship . Democratic republic established after WWII was a weak coalition government prone to instability and dominated by Christian Democratic Party. Instability continued to plague Italian gov’t by the turn of the 21st century. By 1991, Italy witnessed the installation of its 50th postwar gov’t.

Joined Allied side of WWI in 1916 but felt betrayed by the broken promises of the Versailles Treaties. Mussolini and Hitler signed the Rome-Berlin Axis in 1936 and were allies throughout WWII until defeat. Italy was one of the founding members of European integration as part of the ECSC and “Common Market”. In fact, the treaty that created the EEC or “Common Market” was signed in Rome (1957).

Student unrest, mass strikes, and terrorist attacks occurred throughout the postwar period. Corruptive influence of the Mafia spread from southern Italy to the north.


Uprising in 1956 allowed Poland to follow its own socialist path especially in regards to the economy. In the 1970s, Poland enjoys relative economic prosperity based on foreign loans. After the painful adoption of “shock therapy” austerity measures in the early 1990s, Poland made a successful transition to a market economy by the 21st century.

Independent Polish state established by Versailles Treaties. Interwar Poland dominated by authoritarian dictatorship under Josef Pilsudski. After Nazi occupation during WWII, Poland becomes a Communist People's Republic after Soviet-run elections, under the Stalinist leadership of Boleslaw Bierut. Liberal Communist leader Wladislaw Gomulka came to power after Polish uprising in 1956 but made deal w/ Soviets to allow Poland to follow its own socialist path. Solidarity movement galvanizes Poland in 1981 but is quickly put down. Roundtable talks b/t Communists, Solidarity,and the Catholic Church lead to partially free elections that Solidarity sweeps in 1989. Stable democratic republic established w/ Solidarity leader Lech Walesa as first president.

Polish state created in 1918, but was eventually occupied by Nazi Germany in WWII. Became an eastern bloc Soviet puppet state after WWII and signed the Warsaw Pact (1955). Poland threw off communist rule in 1989 thanks to the work of the Solidarity trade union movement and the work of the Catholic Church.

The Catholic Church was always a vital institution in Poland and bulwark against communism. The election of Pope John Paul II in 1978 really galvanized the Solidarity movement and anti-communist sentiment.


The establishment of the USSR after the Revolution of 1917 established a communist command economy whose gradual stagnation eventually brought down the USSR. In the period of rapid privatisation in the early 1990s, the government of President Boris Yeltsin created a small but powerful group of magnates, often referred to as "oligarchs", who acquired vast interests in the energy and media sectors, especially in its oil and gas industries that helped it overcome the economic collapse of 1998.

Two revolutions in 1917 saw the end of the Romanov dynasty and the establishment of the communist Soviet Union. Stalin’s totalitarian communist dictatorship followed and established the framework for future communist leaders of the Soviet Union. Mikhail Gorbachev instituted glasnost and perestroika in the mid-1980s in an attempt to save the Soviet Union but they facilitated the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. A new constitution is written for the Russian Federation. Boris Yeltsin elected first president and was replaced by Putin in 1999.

Horrible losses in WWI was biggest cause of the Russian Revolution. Took enormous losses in repelling the Nazis in WWII. Cold War resulted as USSR competed with the USA for ideological and geopolitical dominance post-WWII.

Repression, censorship, and terror under Communist rule. Wide social inequality resulted from policies after the end of Communism. Life expectancy declined rapidly.


El Milagro Espanol - the economic miracle of the late 1950s - sees Spain's manufacturing and tourism industries take off through liberalization of state controls over the next two decades.

Spain's modern history is marked by the bitterly fought Spanish Civil War of 1936-39, and the ensuing 36-year dictatorship of General Francisco Franco. After Franco's death in 1975, Spain made the transition to a democratic state and built a successful economy, with King Juan Carlos as head of state.

The constitution of 1978 enshrines respect for linguistic and cultural diversity within a united Spain. The country is divided into 17 regions which all have their own directly elected authorities. The level of autonomy afforded to each region is far from uniform. For example, Catalonia, the Basque Country and Galicia have special status with their own language and other rights.

Neutral in WWI. Spanish Civil War (1936-1939) served as warmup for WWII as Hitler practiced his blitzkrieg tactics while coming to Franco’s aid. As a result, Spain was neutral in WWII. As the Cold War deepened the US gradually improved relations with Spain, extending loans in return for military bases. Spain is admitted to the UN in 1955 and the World Bank in 1958, and other European countries opened up to the Franco government. In 1986, Spain joined the European Economic Community, later to become the European Union.

Separatist movements especially in the Basque region have resulted in violence.


Unemployment is low and the economy strong. Public-private partnership is at the core of "the Swedish model", which was developed by the Social Democrats, who governed for most of the last 70 years until 2006. This mixed economy traditionally featured centralized wage negotiations and a heavily tax-subsidized social security network. The Swedes still enjoy an advanced welfare system, and their standard of living and life expectancy are almost second to none. A major reason why Sweden as well as other Scandinavian states were the most effective in combatting the Great Depression in the 1930s.

Social Democratic government has been incredibly stable throughout 20th century.

Sweden is known throughout the world for its neutrality. This policy has led to a number of Swedish politicians taking on international roles, often mediating between conflicting groups or ideologies. With the ending of the Cold War, Sweden felt able to join the European Union in 1995 although it still declines to become a Nato member. Sweden was one of three EU countries not to join the single European currency. In the first referendum on membership after the euro's introduction in 12 of 15 EU countries, Swedish voters rejected it by a clear majority in September 2003.

Dealing with immigration. Immigrants make up


Colonel Mustafa Kemal (Ataturk) introduced a state-run industrial system and economy. Efforts to reduce state control over the economy also faced many obstacles. After years of mounting difficulties which brought the country close to economic collapse, a tough recovery programme was agreed with the IMF in 2002.

Republic of Turkey created in 1923 under the leadership of Ataturk. Turkey's progress towards democracy and a market economy was halting in the decades following the death of President Ataturk in 1938. The army saw itself as the guarantor of the constitution, and ousted governments on a number of occasions when it thought they were challenging secular values.

Ottoman Empire collapsed after defeat in WWI, Turkey was created from its ruins. Neutral in WWII. Neutral for most of World War II, Turkey declared war on Germany and Japan, but did not take part in combat. Joined United Nations in 1945. Conflicts emerged with neighbor Greece over Cyprus. Turkey’s Kurds, a subject nationality, have long complained that the Turkish government was trying to destroy their identity and that they suffer from economic disadvantage and human rights violations.

Turkey’s commitment to secular Western values and reforms have often conflicted with the worldview of fundamentalist Muslims.


Britain was buffered from the worst of the Great Depression thanks to its global empire and the development of new industries like automobiles in the 1920s. The creation of a “cradle to the grave” social welfare state in the 1940s but eventually led to high public debt. British economy recovered more slowly from WWII than other W. European countries b/c demands from trade unions caused wages to rise faster than productiviey, the unwillingness of Britain to update its industrial system, and the loss of revenues from abroad due to its loss of empire despite its continued pledge of commitment to the Commonwealth. “Thatcherism” in the 1980s reduced gov’t bureaucracy, limited social welfare, broke the power of the labor unions, and used austerity measures to control inflation, though was driven out of office b/c of her tax policies. Since Thatcher’s reign, the UK’s economy has increasingly relied on the service industries rather than manufacturing ones.

Throughout the 20th century, the UK has remained a politically stable parliamentary democracy. Power in Parliament fluctuated b/t the Conservative and Labour parties mostly throughout the century. The election of Margaret Thatcher, the 1st female prime minister in British history, led a conservative revolution in the 1980s. The Labour Party returned to power in the late 1990s led by Tony Blair.

The 20th century saw Britain having to redefine its place in the world. At the beginning of the century, it commanded a world-wide empire as the foremost global power. Two world wars and the end of empire diminished its role, but the UK remains an economic and military power, with considerable political and cultural influence around the world.

The UK is ethnically diverse, partly as a legacy of empire. In the postwar period, the country has been struggling with issues revolving around multiculturalism, immigration and national identity.

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