(as gleaned from the pages of Post War by Tony Judt, which I am halfway through now, thank you very much)
1) In 1948, Europe was like one of those Dogs Playing Poker posters. France was the Pug, holding a pair of twos, but still convinced that the world gave a damn. Austria was the Dalmation trying to change his spots. Britain was the Bulldog putting on airs, and dying for approval from the big American Spaniel in the corner.
2) Maybe the Nazis won after all. After WWII, Germany was bombed out and depopulated. Great Britain was one of the Allied victors. But within ten to fifteen years, the Germans were out-producing, out-reproducing, out-spending and probably out-living the British. England had become a model Welfare State, and they made crappy cars. The Germans had had all their debts forgiven, and they were cranking out BMWs, which everyone suddenly wanted.
3) A lot of the intellectual and cultural turbulence of the Sixties, in Europe at least, had to do with the fact that so, so many more young people were at last able to go to university.
4) Stalin was a ruthless cocksucker, and so was Tito. But Tito was more interesting.
5) For most of Europe, especially the rural populations, the early 1950's were very much like the late 1890's. Nobody had cars, refrigerators or televisions. An indoor toilet was bling.
6) Teenagers were invented in the Fifties. Before that, there were just kids and young adults. Kids simply wore adult styles in smaller sizes.
7) Plus: Everyone wore hats and suits.