Social Movements and the Change of Economic Elites in Europe after 1945

Social Movements and the Change of Economic Elites in Europe after 1945

8-9 November 2012

Institut für soziale Bewegungen, Clemensstr. 17-19, 44789 Bochum


In post-Second World War Europe, the elimination of the remains of the National Socialist hegemony was an omnipresent question. For the Central Powers, the implementation lay in the hands of the Allied occupying forces. They organised the process of denazification and the establishment of a new economic order. In countries without military occupation, there was a deep gap between the new governmental forces and the former collaborators. In both cases, social movements which were formed by anti-fascists on the left of the political spectrum assumed the task of social reorganisation. Trade unionists were prominent amongst them. Their actions were directed against war criminals, war profiteers and former Nazi supporters. Moreover, in many cases, political activists did not only adopt anti-fascist but also anti-capitalist positions.

In our context, “social movement” is used as an analytical term. In the conpemtorary discussion, it was mostly absent (especially in the German-speaking countries) because of its use by the National Socialists (German: die Bewegung or Volksbewegung). In other countries such as France, the term was used as other movements had emerged during the war, for instance the mouvement de libération nationale in 1940.

The post-war movements formed spontaneously and were highly diverse. Their form of organisation were commissions and committees such as the comités d’épuration in France or the Antifaschistische Kommissionen in Germany. Special groups were factory committees or works councils that aimed at establishing the worker’s power within the companies. Sometimes the seizure of power extended to the judicial sector when lay judges were appointed for the prosecution of collaborators. Many of these social movements envisioned a political order that went beyond the re-establishment of pre-war liberal-democratic regimes.

Thursday, 8 November


14.30 – Welcome programme

15.00 – Stefan Berger / Marcel Boldorf (Bochum): Introduction

Session 1: Germany

  • 15.20 – Till Kössler (Bochum): Worker´s protest movements and trade union politics in West Germany, 1945-1951
  • 15.40 – Marcel Boldorf (Bochum): Social movements and the change of business elites in East Germany

16.00 – Discussion of session 1

16.30 Coffee break

Session 2: Western and Southern Europe

  • 17.20 – Xavier Vigna (Dijon): France after 1945 : When a left-wing government tried to control the social movement
  • 18.00 – Rik Hemmerijckx (Sint-Amands): Social movements and the change of economic elites: the Belgian case

18.20 – Discussion of session 2


Friday, 9 November


Session 3: Eastern Europe

  • 9.30 – Jaromír Balcar/Jaroslav Kucera (Bremen/Prag): Social movements within a “National Revolution”: Czechoslovakia after 1945
  • 9.50 – Tanja Penter (Hamburg): Rebuilding the Donbass – the impact of Nazi-Occupation on workers, engineers and the economic development of the postwar Soviet Union in late Stalinism

10.10 Discussion of Session 3

10.40 Coffee break

Session 4: Northern Europe

  • 11.00 – Niels Wium Olesen (Aarhus): Change or return to normalcy. The Danish transition from war to peace
  • 11.20 – Harald Espeli (Oslo): Political radicalization and social movements in liberated Norway (1945-1947)

11.40 – Short Discussion of the two papers
Session 4: Northern Europe (continued)

  • 14.30 – Niklas Jensen-Eriksen (Helsinki): Continuity and change: New social movements and traditional economic elites in postwar Finland
  • 14.50 – Lars Ekdahl (Södertörn): The Swedish labour movement and post-war radicalisation

15.10 – Discussion of session 4

Session 5: Non-occupied countries

  • 15.50 – Marc Prat Sarbatés (Barcelona):Economic elites and labour movement under surviving fascism: Spain in the 1940s
  • 16.10 – Peter Ackers (Loughborough): Saving British social democracy? Hugh Clegg, the Oxford School of academic Industrial Relations and the 1965-68 Donovan Commission on Trade Unions and Employers Association

16.30 – Discussion of Session 5

17.00 – General discussion: European patterns of post-war recovery

17.30 – Final announcements (Stefan Berger/Marcel Boldorf)



Marcel Boldorf (
Lehrstuhl Wirtschafts- und Unternehmensgeschichte, Ruhr-Universität
Bochum, 44780 Bochum

OpenEdition vous propose de citer ce billet de la manière suivante :
Emilia Robin (9 novembre 2012). Social Movements and the Change of Economic Elites in Europe after 1945. Faire l'histoire de la guerre froide. Consulté le 15 juillet 2024 à l’adresse

Emilia Robin

Chercheuse associée à l'UMR SIRICE. Violons d'Ingres : guerre froide, médiation scientifique, logiciels libres

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