What Do You Know About Post-WWII Europe?


By: Zoe Samuel

6 Min Quiz

Image: The_Beatles_wax_figures,_The_Beatles_Story.jpg: Jennifer Boyer, derivative work: Clusternote

About This Quiz

World War Two ended in 1945 with the absolute victory of the Allies - Britain, America, France, Russia - over the Axis powers of Germany, Japan, and Italy. However, that victory was hard-fought and much of the continent was left in ruins. With communist Russia asserting itself on the eastern borders of the continent, it was only a matter of time before a new order sprung up that led to the Cold War and a frozen or declining quality of life for millions. However at the same time, western Europe became the most prosperous place on Earth, with its defense guaranteed by the friendly superpower of America and its quality of life skyrocketing.

This was a time of peace, plenty, innovation, and prosperity. Democracy appeared very stable, and by the '80s people were talking about "the end of history," as if to suggest that a way of life so obviously superior could never be threatened. By the end of the Cold War, the hubris reached a peak, and was then shattered as Europe began to face a resurgent Russia and a chaotic Middle East. With climate change and war in Africa sending millions of migrants north, the future of the continent is unclear. We know only that it will be different - but doubtless just as exciting. Let's see how well you know the last 70 years!

When was the Berlin Wall built?

The Berlin Wall was built to divide communist East Berlin from the capitalist, liberal west. It has now been down for as long as it was up.


When was the EU founded?

The European Union didn't come to its fullest expression until the '90s. The European Economic Community, its predecessor, was founded in 1957.


Which of these is not a founding nation of the European Free Trade Association?

The founders were Austria, Denmark, Norway, Portugal, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. This organization was rolled into the EEC and they eventually became the EU.


Which Geneva Convention took place in 1949?

The 4th Geneva Convention built on the others to agree the rules of war, including the treatment of civilians and also prisoners of war.


When did the Second Vatican Council start?

This council updated the Vatican's positions on certain issues and also introduced the idea of mass in English instead of Latin


In what town were the Beatles formed?

Liverpool is the northern town where the Beatles were born, raised and met


When was Scotland's independence referendum?

Scotland voted in 2014 to stay in the UK, the result that the government was hoping for. In a spectacular own goal, the British government held their ill-fated EU referendum a couple of years later and didn't get the result they wanted - though Scotland still voted as hoped for.


Why was Britain called the sick man of Europe?

Britain's economy did not do well under very extreme Labour government policies in the '70s. The '80s turned this around but the pendulum went too far the other way and laid the groundwork for Black Wednesday.


When was CERN founded?

The European Organization for Nuclear Research, or CERN in French, is a particle physics lab where the world wide web was invented.


What was the Marshall Plan?

The Marshall Plan provided$13bn ($140bn in today's money) to Europe to help rebuild it.


What was the period of extreme Irish prosperity of the late '90s and early 2000s called?

The Irish economy grew an amazing 9.4% a year in this time as a result of foreign investment and also elaborate educational investment


What currency was introduced in 1999?

The euro was introduced in 1999, but some nations stayed out as it involved meeting certain economic standards that better suited some economies than others


Which of these is not a part of former Yugoslavia?

The Balkan state of Yugoslavia split in the 1990s and some parts of it fell into wars. The area is now peaceful with multiple EU members.


Who won the Eurovision song contest in 1974?

ABBA competed for Sweden and took home the trophy for the first time there.


What year did Britain accidentally invade Spain?

British troops on an exercise near Gibraltar landed a few hundred yards further up the beach than expected, and accidentally invaded Spain. The British government put out a hilarious statement informing the public that, "We are not trying to take Spain."


What year did Germany NOT win the European Cup?

(West) Germany won in all of these years except for 1976.


Including the one formed following the March 2018 election, how many governments has Italy had since WW2?

Italy's government is incredibly unstable, which is strange as its economy has certainly had good times.


In which of these fields can you not win a Nobel prize?

Nobel prizes include physics, literature, chemistry, medicine, peace and economics. Mathematics is left out.


How long did Belgium manage to get by without a government in the early 2010s?

Hung parliaments and divided elections resulted in 589 days without a government! Belgium continued to host the European Parliament though, and it was ultimately resolved very peacefully.


What year did Elizabeth II become Queen?

The Queen ascended to the throne in 1952 but it took time to organize her coronation, which was in 1953.


When was Margaret Thatcher Prime Minster of the UK?

Thatcher came to power in 1979 and stayed there until 1990, when she was removed by members of her own party.


What name was shared by both Irish presidents to hold office in the years 1990 to 2011?

Ireland had two women, both called Mary, in a row - Mary McAleese and Mary Robinson.


Which terrorist organization blew up civilian targets in Omagh, Manchester and London during a 25-year period known as the Troubles?

The IRA bombed targets throughout the UK in order to try and achieve a united Ireland. Sectarian trouble between the Catholic Irish Republic and the Protestant North was resolved with the Good Friday Agreement, which led to peace.


On behalf of what region in Spain did terrorist group ETA agitate for independence before giving up the terrorism game in the wake of the 2004 Madrid train bombings?

The Basque separatists were, like the IRA, not primarily intent on killing civilians. After the public mood turned against any form of political violence in a much more emphatic way following 9/11, and then the Madrid train bombings, ETA gave up their violent campaign.


Who was Chancellor of Germany from 1982 to 1998?

Kohl was Chancellor during the fall of the Berlin Wall, and was very popular for much of this time for his handling of that.


Who is Chancellor of Germany from 2005 to the present, recently winning re-election and making a grand coalition government?

Merkel is the great survivor of German politics. Her center-right party is now entering a coalition with a center-left counterpart.


Where did Serbian dictator Slobodan Milosevic commit genocide in 1998?

Ethnic cleansing was undertaken against ethnic Albanians in Kosovo, who were Muslim. Many people were killed until NATO air strikes brought the Serb regime to heel. Mass graves, destruction of mosques and all manner of crimes occurred before this. Kosovo is now at peace and independent.


Who became British Prime Minister in 1997 on a neoliberal platform that is generally considered to be politically well-aligned to Bill Clinton's Democrats?

Tony Blair changed Labour from a very socialist party with a literal communist element into a neoliberal and social democratic party. This won him repeat elections, but the nation eventually turned on him and he was booted from power.


What did Charles de Gaulle establish in 1958 in France?

De Gaulle was one of the great French fighters in World War Two and refused to stick around to collaborate with the Nazis. He then became president of France and set up its current, modern constitution.


Which southern European nation, currently suffering its 10th year of economic trouble, was the 10th member of the EU?

Greece was the 10th member into the EU and later joined the euro. Unfortunately, its economy has been in trouble for the best part of 10 years.


What political and economic model found in the countries enjoying the highest living standards in Europe is a blend of capitalist, socialist and liberal ideas?

The Nordic model involves a market economy with policies such as universal health care, subsidized child care and education.


What discovery in the 1960s, the use of which is about to be ended, helped make Norway so prosperous?

Norway got rich but also got smart, putting the revenue into a fund to benefit all citizens. Norway is now evolving beyond oil and phasing out gas cars, moving to a carbon-free economy.


What happened at the Roslin Institute in 1996 that changed science forever?

Dolly was the first cloned mammal, and it was a huge controversy as people were not sure if she would be entirely healthy. However, she led a normal life and reproduced.


Who was the first European astronaut to visit the International Space Station?

The ISS lanuched in 1998 and is funded and maintained by all nations, so it was natural that it would have residents from all its nations. Guidoni hailed from Italy and was the first European on board.


Which Italian Oscar winner's stage adaptation of Dante's Divine Comedy has been seen in person by literally 45% of their home nation's population?

This incredible one-man show consistently sells out stadia and arenas. Benigni won his Oscar for the 1997 movie "Life Is Beautiful", which he directed and starred in. He notably leaped across chairs and bounced his way to the stage, where he quoted Dante.


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