The End of European Empire

December 3, 2009 | | 1 Comment

  • As the end of the war in 1945 was coming close to an end, nearly a third of the worlds population was under the rule of some foreign power, most of which were European(750 million).

Britain Departs from South Asia

For the first time on August 15, 1947 India gained its independence, and was the largest European colony to do so after the war had ended. India quickly became the world’s most populous democracy and soon had adopted the parliamentary system of government, a system in which India’s western trained elites had learned to be accustomed to.  The Indian National Congress supported Britain’s fight during World War I, and the Indian troops under the Indian National Congress fought for Britain in countless battles in the hope that their independence would be granted after the war was over. But their hopes for immediate independence were bashed, and led to an uprising of the Indian people and prompted indigenous leaders like Mohandas Gandhi to organize sophisticated campaigns of NON violence against the British rule being enforced in their country. The new ideas introduced from Mohandas Gandhi created a large broad based support within the Indian people during the 1930’s.GANDHI Prime Minister Winston Churchill was opposed to the new idea of Indian independence, but the Labour government that came to power in Britain immediately after the war was committed and agreed to a peaceful withdrawal out of India. Soon a decision was made by the leaders of India’s 95 million Muslims, with fears of possible discrimination of the Muslim people in a Hindu dominated country, they demanded a creation of a separate sovereign state that would consist mainly of Muslims. Gandhi and the Congress Party opposed to the idea of the partition and argued in the favor of a nonsectarian state where all faiths would be universally accepted and find a home. Eventually after the separated communities were established, violence began to escalade during 1946, with the help of British negotiators there was an attempt to find a compromise between both sides. Under the leadership of Nehru, India soon became a stable parliamentary democracy, he pursued a non-aligned foreign policy, and maintained cordial relations with its former imperial overlords (Britain).

Mohandas Gandhi & Jawaharlal Nehru

Mohandas Gandhi & Jawaharlal Nehru


France Withdraws from North Africa

In an attempt to create a larger French Union, France’s post war government had conferred metropolitan citizenship on its colonial people although there was a small conflict with the North African colonies of Morocco and Tunisia because they were committed to full independence. However in 1956, France’s goal was achieved peacefully without any conflicts. With high hopes of creating compromises without conflict or bloodshed, their hopes were quickly diminished with the French Algeria territory. The French Algeria colony was a  home to over one million politically powerful French settlers and shared the territory with nine million Muslims. These nine million Muslims were determined to dislodge the French settlers and chase them out of their land, as a result a bloody war of national liberation began. The bloody conflict lasted for eight years and led to the collapse of the Fourth Republic and brought about the return of General Charles de GaulleGeneralCharlesDeGaulle as President of a new Fifth Republic. Under the new Presidents lead, French forces finally withdrew from Algeria in 1962. Soon after French forces withdrew, about 1.5 million embarrassed white settlers followed them short after. The French forces did not withdraw Algeria without leaving a serious mark, they left behind a destroyed, war damaged country where over one million Algerians had died, leaving the Algerian government with serious amounts of reconstruction to do.


Democratic Promise in Sub-Saharan Africa

India’s successful independence struggle set a powerful example for nationalist movements in dozens of sub-Saharan African colonies. There were only three independent African states in 1945:

  • South Africa
  • Liberia
  • Ethiopia

During the late 1950’s and continuing through the 1960’s, more than thirty new nation states were created on the African continent, with the majority of the neighboring states maintaining their original colonial boundaries set up by earlier Europeans in the late nineteenth century. The British and the French were the first European countries to accept decolonization in Sub-Saharan Africa.FranceBritain-Carve-TurkeyFor the most part, the process of liberation took place in an orderly manner.

In West African British colony of Gold Coast, an American-educated leader named Kwame Nkrumah led his Convention People’s Party to independence in 1957. Under his guidance, Ghana set out to become a model of African democracy in the post colonial era. With such high aspirations, a couple of problems rose for Kwame, with his consuming interest in pan-African unity he became distracted in his work and lost his attention from pressing domestic issues. Soon Kwame’s support began to fall apart, as time progressed on he began to rule in an increasingly undemocratic manner, restricting press freedoms and detaining critics. As a result the goal of rapid industrialization failed to move forward.kwame Few of Africa’s postwar leaders embraced nationalism as an idea needed for social change.

Over the last 60 years, nationalist leaders of newly independent states had repeatedly promised significant improvements in the quality of life for their citizens. When these promises were not kept and economies faltered, the recourse to authoritarian and military government followed, inaugurating an unhappy cycle of official corruption, ever-expanding poverty, and civil unrest.


Migration to Europe from the Colonial Periphery

Since the late sixteenth century Europe had been the world’s principal sending zone. As infectious diseases began to grab its hold on large amounts of land, migrants who settled in appropriated lands in the Americas and Australasia, soon the migrants were decimated by the diseases introduced inadvertently by Europeans.

  • After 1945, with Western Europe becoming a net immigration zone for the first time in over 400 years, the process of relocation was reversed.
  • Immigration authorities were eager to maintain maximum flexibility with respect to residency, as a result a series of guest worker schemes were devised to control the flow of new arrivals.

West Germany, France, Belgium, Switzerland, the Netherlands, and Britain all recruited temporary laborers after the war. With the recruiting of temporary works in so many countries, migrants who were fleeing communist-controlled Eastern Europe were there to take any job available.

By the early 1970’s many of West Germany’s 2.6 million foreign workers were from Turkey, and generous family reunification policies led to the arrival of additional non-workers. But as more immigrants began pouring into countries, as economic downturns began to come around, a new sense of anti-immigrant feelings began to grow throughout the locals of these countries. As racial tensions rose in the early 1960’s between Britons and arrivals from immigrants from India, Pakistan, and sub-Saharan Africa, the government began to place restrictions on immigration. Which eventually led to accepting immigrants who possessed specialized skills.

European Immigrants

European Immigrants


1 Comment so far

  1.    hsnyder123 on December 3, 2009 8:57 pm

    Thats very interesting that Western Europe was not a net immigration zone until after world war 2. I guess it must be because foreign Laborers came to help with the clean up effort. I would definetly be interested to know more.

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