Postwar Europe, ideological realities, Christianity


G ermany and Italy faced exceptional challenges after World War II. Their culpability in the outbreak of this devastating war made recovery an especially difficult task. Konrad Adenauer (1876-1967) and Alcide De Gasperi (1881-1954) had the unenviable jobs of rebuilding their respective nations after Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini had fallen from power. Both were Chri~tian Democrats who believed that the Christian tradition could provide an important foundation for Europe's rebirth. For both, the ennobling principles of Christianity and the transnational solidarity promoted by the religious tradition offered a refreshing possibility for peace and stability. Their commitment to greater European unity became the dominant political expression of their desire to recast Europe on safer ground, especially in light of the global fragmentation into cold war blocs. Their vision was of a Europe united by its Christian culture that had provided a common heritage for more than a millennium, but their faith in Europe's religious heritage was placed in soil that responded most agreeably to economic seeds. Their unrealized dream of a United States of Europe highlights the disparity between their ideals and the ideological realities of postwar Europe.