By Tony Judt
“I am enthusiastically ecu; no knowledgeable individual may well heavily desire to go back to the embattled, at the same time opposed circle of suspicious and introverted countries that was once the ecu continent within the particularly fresh prior. however it is something to imagine an consequence fascinating, really one other to think it really is attainable. it's my rivalry really united Europe is adequately not likely for it to be unwise and self-defeating to insist upon it. i'm hence, i guess, a Euro-pessimist.” —Tony Judt
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Additional resources for A Grand Illusion?: An Essay on Europe
But these differences, which matter so much in the internal history of France and Germany, or in the history of conflicts among west European rulers, never acquired the significance of the division between west and east. This was because from the very beginning of its modern history, western Europe was bound by cultural and commercial links that transcended its internal divisions; from the twelfth-century urban renaissance to the eighteenth-century Enlightenment, the history of the western part of Europe was a common and distinctive history.
The first of these was quite simply the impact of the war itself. During the war belligerent and occupied states alike mobilized their resources and populations in unprecedented ways. The Germans invested heavily in their own war industries, some of which—notably in the metallurgical [24} A GRAND ILLUSION? sector—survived the defeat surprisingly unscathed and went on to play an important part in the postwar economic revival. In some of the occupied countries, such as Belgium or Czechoslovakia, Germany's military presence, by simultaneously stimulating production and restraining labor protest, actually favored the accumulation of profits and gave a preliminary boost to postwar modernization.
It is overwhelmingly Catholic, rural, and Slav-speaking, has experienced similarly the impact of empire and the appeal of nationalism, and is dotted with towns and cities whose architectural heritage and literary traditions are unmistakably those of mainstream Europe while displaying distinctive traits and traditions of their own. For the century following 1848 its culture was much shaped by the presence of an influential intelligentsia, notably in the cities. Most of all, it is markedly different from the lands to its immediate east and south, and for centuries has sought to maintain a distance from them.