Communist Power in Europe, 1944-1949

By Martin McCauley | Go to book overview

I Economic Developments in Eastern Europe under German Hegemony *

E. A. RADICE


GERMAN PLANS FOR EASTERN EUROPE

The shifts in the balance of political power in the region in the 1930s, as well as the economic problems generated by the great depression, presented Germany with the opportunity to expand her influence which, with the help of her Italian ally, she proceeded to do by a combination of military, political and economic measures. As a result, four countries lost their independence -- Czechoslovakia, Albania and Poland in 1939, and Yugoslavia in 1941, while Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria, having already been progressively absorbed into the German economic sphere in the last half of the 1930s, effectively became German satellites after the attack on the U.S.S.R. in June 1941, in which Hungary and Romania also joined. From the beginning of 1939, and more especially from mid-1941 until 1945, economic developments in Eastern Europe depended to an overwhelming degree on German policies and, in the final stages, on the effects of German military and political collapse.

Of the general ideas underlying German policy two may be singled out as having a decisive influence on economic developments in Eastern Europe. The first of these was the theory of a Grossraumwirtschaft, or economic planning region, which was to govern the types of economic activity to be developed in each part of the region under control. German writers on this theory 1 underline its differences from the international economic system, based on competitive trading in a world market, under which economic crises may bring insecurity to producers and poverty to consumers. Its essential feature was the deliberate planning of economic

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The area discussed in this chapter comprises the countries which were independent up to October 1938 and which, after a period of varying degrees of German control, became once more independent in 1944-5, but in practice overwhelmingly under Soviet influence. It therefore excludes the Baltic States, Finland and Greece, as well as the German Democratic Republic.

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