THE ECONOMIC DISINTEGRATION OF CENTRAL EUROPE AFTER THE GREAT WAR AND THE SUBSEQUENT EFFORTS FOR RAPPROCHEMENT IN THE YEARS 1924 TO 1930
Since the 16th century Central Europe was dominated by the Habsburg Monarchy. The hegemony of two nations was opposed by the other ethnics living in monarchy who were fighting for national emancipation. Each conflict had different intensity and ended in different attitudes towards the monarchy. The Great War was a turning point in that historical development. The Czech political and economic elites departed from the Habsburg monarchy and adopted the idea of restoration of the independent state. Immediately after the foundation of independent Czechoslovakia on 28 October 1918, the problem concerning the forms of economic cooperation with the other succession states was not yet solved. A group around Rudolf Hotowetz, the Secretary of the Chamber of Trade and Commerce, favoured the customs union of succession states. However, the majority of representatives from the Czech economic circles led by Alois Rašín, the first Minister of Finance, and Jaroslav Preiss, the director of Trade Bank (Živnostenská banka), fearing the loss of recently acquired independence, enforced the establishment of independent economy. Same events happened in Yugoslavia and Poland. The main tools that were employed were monetary and customs separation, domestications of companies and banks, repatriation of the capital and agrarian reform. During the first half of 1919, the originally unified customs area of monarchy fell apart and the succession states were more occupied by building their "national" economy in first five years following the end of war. Nevertheless, in the middle of 1920s, the efforts to restore economic cooperation in Central Europe came to the fore. The Czech representatives, emphasized that it was completely new integration built on democratic principles. The proposals for establishment of customs union or Danubian federation were refused as "inconsistent with the current situation". As the first steps consistent with the current situation, the Czechs promoted preferential tariffs, industrial, commercial and financial agreements of Central European states. The Central European integration process was to include Czechoslovakia, Austria, Hungary, Yugoslavia, Romania and in future also Poland and Bulgaria. The superpowers were no to be directly involved in the process. This was opposed strongly by Italy and Germany, which wanted to have a dominant position in Central Europe. Since 1929, Bernard von Bülow, the Secretary of the German Minister of Foreign Affairs, promoted the restored conception of Mitteleuropa under the leadership of Germany against efforts for the Central European economic rapprochement.
economy, disintegration, central europe, repeated rapprochement
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