No matter how historical events are being interpreted Europe’s history after World War II suggest just one clear reality: it has unified its countries which were once shattered by bitter invasion and had since then been trying to move towards an empowered modern Europe. For whatever reasons others cannot believe and accept such reality, there is one certain thing about Europe after World War II: Europe’s dream of modernization defied its diversity of culture and differing political ideals.
Before the war, Europe has traditionally been divided into East and West based by different political system; Communism and Capitalism. A new blend of Europe has been the main path which directed its member countries after the war. It is for this reason that this writer proposed to integrate the concept of unity or unification in the thematic title of this course. There are several events that will justify this assumption. For example, the power of Communism has significantly weakened after the war and so were the influences it left in the formerly communist countries then known as the Eastern bloc.
With the call for unification and reconciliation by Winston Churchill in 1946 and the creation of European Union of Federalists, the desire of the people to completely pin down Soviet Union arose and heightened. The call for the establishment of United States in Europe called for uprisings and movements to express their disgust to its proponents. These events, instead of creating conflict had provided the people the opportunity to block the domination of European Union of Federalists and the United Nations of Europe and so the European (Atlantic) model of government was born.
With the nationalistic aim of Schumann and Benet, Europeans were encouraged to reconciliation. What is remarkable however in with Schumann and Benet was that they were against America’s entering into the scene. The two stood to their beliefs that the Franco-German reconciliation should be left to the sole responsibility of the Europeans and not with the help of any nation. With this we can say that these European leaders genuinely aimed for a long-term unity of European countries. Europe also took vital steps towards modernization and progress by means of allowing the spirit of reconciliation dominates them.
On May 01, 1950, the famous Schuman Declaration occurred which brought hopes for progress to the unifying Europe. The establishment of the European Coal and Steel Community marked that date in the European calendar. Such community was vital in the initial steps taken by Europe in moving towards genuine progress. The declaration made Germany, Italy, Belgium, Netherlands and Luxembourg nod to the proposal of an authority. This is first time in the European history that these powerful countries agreed and united. Culture and religion were also major elements which played in the ideological division of Europe into East and West.
However with modernization and the end of Cold War, Europe removed these walls. It is important to note that West Europe was then dominated by Western Christianity religion while the East bloc was dominated by Orthodox Christianity and Islam. Because of these, member countries of the two divisions clashed trying to display dominance over the other and genocide was the other’s most powerful tool. With the establishment of the European Union, eastern borders were extended through the countries dominated by Western and Eastern Orthodox civilizations.
The memberships of most protestant and Roman Catholic countries in the European Union finally erased the mark of cultural conflict between the two divisions. The step by step movement of European countries towards unification brought considerably good results for the whole European nation. Despite the resistance of others to join the prominent European Union, Europe obviously is moving forward towards globalization. Although it is not the union which solely and ultimately unified Europe and its people, somehow the prominence of the European organization is of great help.
As of May 2004, the European Union has 25 member countries after 10 countries joined including Poland, Czech Republic, Hungary, Cyprus and others. Such memberships are indications of the member countries’ willingness to extend help to each other. More importantly, these member countries now recognize a higher authority other than their own. With growing concerns on national security and issues of war and human aggression, European Union’s leaders have been criticizing each other point out the shortcomings of one another. Such disagreements do not however suggest that E. U. can no more live up to its dream of ultimate peace and unity.
These situations especially in the political arena are indicative of the active participation and exercise of their power to choose and to independently decide for their people. Their unity as a legacy of the wars does not necessarily requires them to implement uniform laws and policies to their constituents. United Europe after the war had actually provided each member country the sense of accountability and responsibility by defending their stand over an issue that significantly affect them. Despite the diversity of culture and its bitter past, united Europe has been continuously moving towards a globally competitive and empowered nation.
The wars undoubtedly left the enduring culture of hatred and violence behind. Europe was left with one vital responsibility to take: use its available time and resources to manage its economic, social and political affairs in the most prudent manner in such a way that it has secured its people and their future. There were no more walls in their midst, no more threat of genocide, and no more religious conflicts. Everyone is free to live a peaceful life in the land where no culture is regarded dominant over the other.