World War II, which costed the lives of 50 million people, was the most expensive war in human history. Its economic costs are difficult to estimate. Expenditures on waging the war amounted to about 155 million dollars, and damages and losses has not yet been fully specified, but estimates assume that the amount could be about 300 billion at the purchasing power of money at that time.

The world, especially continental Europe, began to rise slowly from the ashes of war. The deficit of the basic energy resource, which was still coal – with the large demand for this commodity in the post-war economic reconstruction – caused that both in individual countries and internationally steps were taken to rationalize its production and distribution.

Nationalization of mines was carried out not only in socialist countries, but also, among others in France and Great Britain. In the remaining countries coal mining became subordinated to the supervision of the state to a much greater extent than before.

The deficit of coal in Europe after the war, led in 1946 to the establishment of the European Coal Organization, bringing together producers and importers of coal from Western and Central Europe. The organization dealt with the distribution of the surplus of coal between its members. Two years later, this organization evolved into the Coal Committee of the UN European Economic Commission.

In 1951, on the initiative of the French Foreign Minister Robert Schuman the European Coal and Steel Community was created, including France, FRG (Federal Republic of Germany), Belgium, Holland, Luxembourg and Italy. Its objective was to coordinate production and sales of coal and steel in the Community. In subsequent years, this organization evolved into the European Economic Community, the progenitor of the European Union.

Coordination of the development of coal mining in the socialist countries was dealt by the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance. Within the confines of this organization – set up in 1949 – the Carbon Commission also operated. For several years after World War II a steady increase in the demand for coal was taking place. In Western Europe, it reached its peak in late 1956 and early 1957, because of the Anglo-French intervention in Egypt and the transitory closure of the Suez Canal, which hampered the imports of crude oil from the Middle East. The discovery of oil in this part of the world contributed to a slow decline in demand for coal. Oil as a fuel has proved to be more caloric, and furthermore, its mining costs were much lower.

The 50s still see the dominance of coal on the Old Continent. The share of coal in meeting the demand for energy in EEC countries in 1957 reached 62 percent, and the total coal consumption, including Great Britain, amounted to 0,5 billion tons. At that time, coal imports to Western Europe were still insignificant as compared to their production. In 1957 it amounted to 54 million tons and this was first and foremost coal imported from the United States.

The main coal producer in the world – with nearly 30 percent share – were just the United States. In the early 50s coal production in this country exceeded 0,5 billion tons per year. Very favourable natural conditions stimulated a labour productivity unprecedented in other countries, which influenced the price competitiveness of U.S. coal. In Europe, Great Britain still remained the greatest coal power, mining up to 230 million tons of coal per year in the 50s. In 1953, coal satisfied about 91percent of British demand for energy resources. And that huge consumption of the internal market in the post-war period meant that British coal exports at that time were quite vestigial, of only several million tons of coal annually.

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