Social Movements and the Change of Economic Elites in Europe: An Introduction
The end of 1945 marked a major caesura in Europe’s political, social, economic and cultural development. German hypernationalism had left the continent in ruins with tens of millions dead and much of the continent transformed into a wasteland of dead bodies, ruined cities, destroyed infrastructure and environmental disaster. ‘Postwar’ faced diverse challenges that were interconnected by the overriding question of how the reconstruction of the continent should proceed. The answers to this question were closely related to the post-war search for guilty men, i.e. those responsible for the destruction of Europe. In international politics, the Nuremberg trials answered that question—the National Socialist leadership and those serving its ideology and politics were tried and sentenced in an attempt juridically to lay the past to rest. But it was not just a question that looked for answers in international law and politics. The search for guilty men was going on in many countries of Europe, including all those that had been occupied during the Second World War and in which cases of collaboration had occurred.