National Geographic : 1969 Jun
Europe, a Restless Continent Remapped SMALLEST OF CONTINENTS except for Australia, Europe holds a fifth of earth's people. National Geographic's new wall map of this teeming corner of the great Eurasian land mass spans an area rang ing from Jerusalem to Gibraltar, and from Iceland to the Urals. It portrays 36 nations and parts of 9 more-nations that gave the United States the bulk of its population, its religions, its laws and ethics, and its traditions of art, music, and literature. Twenty-five years ago this month Europe faced the most urgent crisis in its history. Along the south coast of England an Allied invasion force of a million men stood poised. The greatest fleet ever assembled crowded the harbors of the English Channel; above it the sky was alive with fighter planes. And across the narrow water, soldiers of Hitler's Thousand-Year Reich stiffened for the blow they knew was coming. On the map the invasion area forms a cres cent less than an inch long at the eastern base of the Cherbourg peninsula. At 6:30 a.m. on June 6, 1944, Allied troops whose "ardour and spirit" were "splendid to witness," as Winston Churchill put it, struggled ashore in the face of murderous Nazi fire. By nightfall a precarious beachhead had been secured along 60 miles of coast. So fierce was the re sistance that Caen, only nine miles inland, was not taken until July 9; Saint L6, 19 miles from the coast, held out until July 18. In one assault area the fighting was so desperate, the heroism so memorable, that its military code title has become a permanent name: It ap pears on the map as Omaha Beach. 778 The results of the next 11 months of fight ing still mark the map. As Allied forces breached the Rhine, Russian armies rumbled westward across the Oder. A line was drawn separating Germany into Russian and Allied zones of occupation. It is there today: a jag ged green-and-pink scar, from Liibeck in the north to Czechoslovakia on the south. In the wake of World War II came the realization that new solutions had to be found to avoid the mistakes of the past. First, the United States in 1947 established the Mar shall Plan to help Europe get back on its feet. Two years later, 12 countries, including the United States and Canada, formed NATO the North Atlantic Treaty Organization-to "restore and maintain the security of the North Atlantic area." Then, in 1957, the Eur opean Economic Community (Common Mar ket) was born as France, Italy, West Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, and Luxembourg teamed up to work toward a customs union and the free flow of goods-and people across the borders of its member states. Superhighways Pierce the Iron Curtain In keeping with this friendly trend, super highways-appearing on the map as double red lines with yellow fill-serve today not only as arteries of trade, but also as avenues to adventure. Increasing numbers of visitors see Europe by car, and the Iron Curtain lifts in many places to let them in. Find Athens on your map. Then follow the double red line into Yugoslavia. The road it represents speeds tourists from the Greek capital through Bel grade and Zagreb to Ljubljana, almost at the Austrian border. Elsewhere on the continent new superhigh ways stitch nations together as never before - and dramatically reduce driving time be tween capital cities. Motorists can now go all the way from Vienna in eastern Austria through Germany to Amsterdam in the Neth erlands, for instance-a distance of 800 miles - in 15 hours of travel. And happily, many of the frontiers that crisscross the map have become as painless for visitors as the highways. Common Market members have relaxed their border formali ties, and tourists can whisk from one to an other almost as easily as if western Europe were a single nation. Additional copies of the Europe wall map may be ordered by mail from Dept. 61, National Geographic Society, Washington, D. C. 20036, for $1.15 each on paper, $2.30 on plastic, postpaid. A convenient booklet index to the map's 6,350 place names is available for 50 cents, plus 10 cents postage.