Europe Will Not Wait: A Warning and a Way Out

Europe Will Not Wait: A Warning and a Way Out

Europe Will Not Wait: A Warning and a Way Out

Europe Will Not Wait: A Warning and a Way Out

Excerpt

IN his famous speech at Zurich on September 19, 1946, Winston Churchill described, in his own inimitable language, the scene of devastation in Europe when the final curtain fell upon the long and agonized tragedy of World War II. "What," he said, "is the plight to which Europe has been reduced?...Over wide areas a vast shivering mass of tormented, hungry, care-worn and bewildered human beings gape at the ruins of their cities and homes and scan the dark horizons for the approach of some new peril, tyranny or horror..."

Awesome words, but certainly no exaggeration of the terrible cost of one man's madness. In all its painful history Europe had never before suffered such toll of moral and physical destruction. The death roll amounted to the fantastic total of nearly 40 million, of whom 4 million were German, and 20 million Russian. Of those who survived, 100 million were a year after the war ended reported to be living at or dangerously near starvation levels, and without proper homes, clothes or tools. The grain harvest in Europe was down to 50% of the pre-war total, partly because of the ravages of war, including "scorched earth", partly because of drought and partly because of the desperate shortage of labour, tools and fertilizers.

In seventeen Western and Central European countries -- not including Germany or Russia -- 2 million houses had been totally destroyed and nearly 3 million severely damaged. Germany had fared even worse, with 3 million out of 5½ million houses and buildings, in the British Occupation Zone alone, either totally or partially destroyed. Frankfurt suffered destruction of 45% of the city, Cologne 66% and Dusseldorf 93%.

Communications fared just as badly, especially railways, ports, canals and bridges, which had been particular targets for bombing and sabotage. France lost 4 thousand kilometres of railway track and half her marshalling yards; and, as was also the case of Belgium and Poland, 60% of her locomotives and rolling stock had been either destroyed or removed. In Germany all the Rhine bridges were . . .

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