E. A. RADICE
The progressive break-up of the Ottoman Empire, the fall of the Dual Austro-Hungarian Monarchy and the defeat of both the German and Russian Empires in the First World War posed serious problems to the peacemakers of 1919 in their attempts to redraw the national boundaries of east Europe on the basis of nationality. The shapes of the countries which emerged were, except in the case of the reconstituted state of Poland, imposed by the principal Allied Powers after representations made by the smaller nations, as a result of which the defeated countries, Hungary and Bulgaria, were inevitably at a disadvantage. As for the new Poland, its eastern frontier was settled only after a victorious war against the Soviet Union, while the final demarcation of its frontier with Germany in Silesia and East Prussia was, after lengthy disputes, decided by plebiscite. The boundaries eventually determined left many political problems unresolved and created tensions both between and within the states of the region which were an important source of economic troubles. In addition, the break-up of ancient economic links, together with the long-term problems of overpopulation and underdevelopment which affected most of the region, were to have serious consequences for the efforts of the countries to attain economic viability. In order that the interrelation between these political and economic factors can better be understood, it will be convenient in this chapter first to summarize the causes of political tension throughout the region, secondly to describe its long-term economic problems in relation to its human and material resources, and finally to give a general account of the economic events, first in the period of restoration and recovery during the first decade of the interwar years, and then in the years following the economic crisis of the early 1930s. It will be seen that the prospects for political and economic stability were, after a brief period of fair weather, to be rudely shattered by the impact of the world economic crisis and by the realignment of the forces of power in Europe whereby German preponderance was established.
The nature of the states in east Europe which emerged after the peacemaking, and many of the problems they had to face, arose out of the tangle of nationalities which inhabited the area covered by the Dual