The Reasons for the Differences in Eastern and Western European Development from 1945-1973

302 words | 2 page(s)

The prime reason for the different developments in the Eastern and Western parts of Europe is in the opposite historical backgrounds aftermath the World War II. For the most part, Eastern European countries remained under the Iron Curtain and thus were prone to overwhelming Soviet propaganda of communism. Conversely, the Western European countries breathed a sigh of freedom after being released from the Nazis. The factor of religion was not less important. Western Europe accepted Roman Catholicism that had drawn a clear line between Church and State. In the Eastern Europe, on the other hand, religion was thought as evil to the ruling ideology of communism.

Economically, Eastern European countries (especially those within the borders of the USSR) developed as centrally planned economies without private companies or businesses. The ideology of socialism assumed total equality of all social strata. In their turn, Western European countries were open to private entrepreneurship and free trade with their ‘New World’ counterparts. As a result, the liberal economic system led to the establishment of the middle class as the major driving force of socio-economic development.

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The post-war period marked the active stage of the Cold War between the Soviets and the USA, which marked the fierce fight for the territories and people. Solidified Western forces countered Communist Bloc with all possible means. The Truman Doctrine, for example, aimed to support the European countries that were under the threat of the Communist expansion. The subsequent Marshall Plan aimed to financially boost economic recovery in Europe. Nonetheless, all steps of the Western governments to democratize the countries of the Eastern Block were harshly opposed by the Soviets and the communist propaganda. The power of the latter held millions of people behind the Iron Curtain. The visible changes and critical transformations, however, took place only in the following decades.

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