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THE REPUBLIC IN ITALY                                      (go Back to the main menu of History of Italy)  

Postwar Reconstruction

Coming out of the Second World War completely ruined and crippled by the severe territorial restrictions imposed by the peace treaty (Paris, 1 February 1947), the new Italian Republic had to face the many problems of material and moral reconstruction. It did this with an impressive effort that in the space of a few years produced extraordinary results. Thanks were also due to the massive aid given by the United States through the Marshall Plan and made available to the other European countries, Germany included, that had been so heavily damaged in the conflict.
A policy of reconstruction and economic development was followed by the various governments in power after 1948, the year in which the party of the Democrazia Cristiana acquired a large parliamentary majority. Initially this took the form of severe anti-inflation measures and then a lifting of restrictions combined with public intervention through a re-launching of the Institute for the Reconstruction of Industry (the Senigallia Plan for the development of the iron and steel industry).
The establishment of the Cassa per il Mezzogiorno (funds for the development of Southern Italy) set in motion a complex series of extraordinary interventions to provide the southern regions with the necessary basic structures (roads, drainage, services etc.) to assist in economic and above all agricultural development. Agrarian reform was particularly necessary in combating the centuries-old landede states of the South. Nevertheless a new and even greater migration occurred, this time not overseas but towards the countries of northwestern Europe (Germany, France, Belgium, England, Switzerland etc.), where the post-war industrial boom required large quantities of manpower. However, the movement of population towards the north of Italy (Piedmont, Lombardy and Liguria) was even greater, due to the efforts of private initiative in creating an industrialized climate, whose rapid and often disorderly growth created talk of an `economic miracle'. This was borne witness to by the large increase in national income and a profound and radical transformation in the country's social and economic structure.
Even at the beginning of the 1960s, the majority of the working force was employed in the industrial sector, while agriculture continued to diminish and the service industries began their expansion. In the international sphere, with her entry to the United Nations and participation in military alliances and economic agreements with the other western countries (European and North American), Italy began to regain the dignity and prestige due to her geographical position and the richness of her historical and cultural traditions.



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