Courtesy Reuters

The Rise of Industrial Middle Europe

AN industrial revolution is taking shape in Europe behind the Iron Curtain. The western boundary of peasant Europe is retreating eastward beyond the Vistula, the Carpathians and the Danube, and when a few more years have passed the majority of the population in Poland, Hungary, Slovakia and Rumanian Transylvania will no longer live by agricultural occupations. This half-enforced and half-spontaneous industrialization of the mid-European area is a major event in European history. The Communist system may endure or perish, but what has already been done can hardly be undone: Middle Europe will not return to its pastoral era.

The plan of this transformation, directed from Moscow, is a comparatively recent development of Russian policy. When, with the tacit consent of the West, the Russians occupied the present European satellite area, they had no economic program for the nations they were to control. They were not sure that the West would allow them to regard Europe beyond the Elbe as a prolongation of the Soviet Union proper, and since their hold on the captive nations was uncertain, they did not wish the region to be strong industrially. For a time it seemed that the Soviets intended to turn the satellite area back to the primitive ruralism of 100 years ago. In Eastern Germany, Hungary and Rumania the Red Army dismantled and sent to Russia a large part of the existing industrial plant; and much of what remained was also declared war booty and administered by the so-called mixed companies. In the part of Germany which is now Polish, little that could be moved was overlooked; according to a story that went the rounds in Warsaw, a Russian general, when transferring an area in western Pomerania to the Warsaw administration, remarked: "You Poles lost this province in the twelfth century; we return it to you exactly as it was then." Most of the present satellite area was stripped of machinery, installations, transportation and raw materials. The main exception was the Czech part of Czechoslovakia,

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