IN THE simplest terms, reconstruction of European agriculture means employment for the farm population and food for urban people. But its successful performance implies all the difference between chaos and the return of individuals and nations to peaceful life. In a large area of the Continent the initial work of restoration has, indeed, already begun. What is the situation at the turn of the year, when the fields of most of Europe are resting under a blanket of snow? And what are some of the problems that lie ahead?
Since February 1943 Russia has recovered all her territory previously occupied by Germany, has recovered the eastern part of Poland and Estonia, most of Latvia and parts of Lithuania, and has gained Bessarabia and Bucovina from Rumania. These areas comprise the Kuban, the Donets basin, the Crimea, the entire Russian and Polish Ukraine and White Russia, and embrace the magnificent tzernozem, or Black Soil Belt. The liberated areas originally held some fifty to sixty million of the 170,000,000 souls in the Soviet Union. The fury of total war has left these areas the most severely blighted agricultural region ever known.
The Balkans, adjacent to the great plains of Russia, have been largely freed from Axis occupation. Greece, Bulgaria and Rumania are more or less out of the war. All of France and French North Africa are liberated, save for some pockets of Nazi suicide garrisons along the Atlantic coast. All of Belgium is free. Italy's former North African colonies, Lybia and Tripoli, and Sicily and the Italian boot up to the northern slope of the Etruscan Apennines are out of the war. But Holland, Denmark and Norway, Austria, Czechoslovakia and west Poland, northern Italy, Jugoslavia, Albania and part of Hungary are still to be liberated. And Germany remains in the grip of her self-chosen tyranny.
We should note again that Russia's agricultural regions are terribly devastated. In its furious retreats the Red Army scorched the earth throughout those vast spaces which Hindenburg once said
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