The Economic History of Eastern Europe, 1919-1975 - Vol. 1

By M. C. Kaser; E. A. Radice | Go to book overview

Chapter 4
Raw Materials and Energy

E. A. RADICE

East Europe is reasonably well endowed with a number of the raw materials required by industry, although it lacks sufficient quantities of iron ore as well as those materials such as cotton and rubber which Europe as a whole has to import from overseas. The chief interest during the period under review is, however, the extent to which these underlying resources were developed. Here the three governing factors were the national frontiers established by the treaties after the First World War, the relatively slow economic growth of the seventeen years following the initial period of postwar recovery, and certain important technical changes in the development of industrial processes. These three factors can be seen to influence the production of nearly all the materials in the region, and the main classes will now be considered in turn.1


ENERGY

During the whole of the interwar period the output of the chief sources of energy in east Europe as a whole more than matched the requirements of its relatively underdeveloped separate economies, in the sense that the countries taken together were net exporters of fuel. The most important of the fuels was of course coal, with abundant reserves of various types available in Poland and Czechoslovakia, but much smaller resources in the other countries. In Romania, exceptionally, the most important fuel was oil, and this was progressively exploited during the twenties and thirties as a result of the world upward trend in the use of liquid fuels.

The oil resources of Hungary and Albania only started to be exploited towards the end of the period, but good use was made of Polish reserves in Galicia, albeit at a declining rate. The national boundaries established after the First World War gave Poland a very substantial capacity for hard coal production of which something like one-third had to be disposed of in foreign markets. The proportion of coal which was suitable for use in coke ovens was, however, comparatively meagre, and this lack of coking coal was no doubt one of the factors determining the vigorous campaign to include the Těšín region

____________________
1
In the Tables of this chapter the areas of the countries referred to relate for all years to their territories in 1922-37.

-210-

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