Another factor in the decision to integrate Europe were the external pressures on Western European states immediately following the war. The United States and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) played important roles in creating an atmosphere where European integration could take place. Western Europe was now bordered by satellite states of the USSR and chose to rely heavily on the United States for security and aid.
The Cold War
The Cold War began almost immediately after the end of the Second World War. It was a conflict between the only two superpowers in the world, Soviet Russia and its satellite states and the United States and its allies. It was in many ways an ideological conflict between communist and capitalist countries which had an important impact on Europe.
Once the Allied Armies attacking from the West and the East defeated Germany, Europe was divided into spheres of influence with the Americans, British and French in Western Europe and the Soviets in Eastern Europe. Once Germany was defeated, a fault- line was created that split the European continent in half. In the East was the Soviet sphere of influence, comprising states such as Poland, Czechoslovakia and East Germany, while Western Europe was in the American sphere of influence.
The timeline below highlights key events after the end of World War II.
|A Brief Timeline of the Cold War in Europe|
|The Yalta Conference |
La conférence de Yalta
Britain, the U.S., and the U.S.S.R. sign an agreement to create the United Nations.
The Allies acknowledge the Soviet Union’s influence over Eastern Europe.
|Winston Churchill’s famous Iron Curtain Speech outlining the conflicts between liberal democracies and authoritarian communists. Click here to listen to it.||The Division of Germany
In 1947, the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. reached an impasse concerning the future of Germany. Two separate states were created:
|The Berlin Blockade|
Le blocus de Berlin
The Communist takeover of Czechoslovakia
The democratic Czechoslovakian state is overthrown by the Communist party in a bloodless coup.
|The U.S.S.R. detonates its first atomic bomb.|
How would the Communist threat encourage European integration? Find out here!