Marshall Plan European Recovery

Aug 3, 2018 in History

George Catlett Marshall, the army chief of staff of the USA from 1939 to 1945, the secretary of state from 1947 to 1949 wrote this document, “The Marshall Plan”. The document is a speech that he delivered at the Harvard University in June 1947, “Address by General George C. Marshall”.

This is a written speech. The goal of the speech was to explain why it was crucial to initiate the post-war European Aid Program. This presentation eventually initiated it. This program is also known as Marshall Plan.

The intended audience of this document was everyone who shared the belief that, for the sake of peace and stability, it was necessary to rebuild the war-devastated Europe. Marshall intended to convey this message to the general public, politicians, and policymakers of countries from both sides of the ocean.

Europe underwent through the long road of a devastated war from 1939 to 1945. Marshal delivered this speech 2 years after the end of WW II. In the speech, he properly pointed the cornerstone of European problem after the war. No one could ignore physical loss of lives and the obvious destruction of cities, factories, mines and railroads, but the most valuable part as mentioned by Marshall was, ”..dislocation of entire fabric of the European economy”. This was what the document intended to point out. Six years of war and frantic preparation of it destroyed Europe’s business infrastructure like banks, commercial enterprises, insurance companies, shipping companies, and other enterprises. According to Marshall, “The breakdown of the business structure of Europe during the war was complete”.

Marshall realized that the rehabilitation of European economy after the war would take longer time and greater effort than had been foreseen. Europe itself could not make it without receiving outside assistance. In the speech, he explained the chain reaction when division of labor could not properly be applied to the socioeconomic life of the country. He explained that farmers grow food and sell them. Then they use the money to buy products that town and city industries produce. However, if goods were not available, because of the lack of raw material, fuel and equipment, then what would farmers do? They would reduce production that would shorten the food supply to the towns and cities. The governments would be forced to spend their foreign currency and credit to satisfy the population’s need. This would exhaust funds required for reconstruction. Marshall cautioned that division of labor, the fundamental principle of survival and growth of modern society in war torn European countries, was breaking down. That is why it was essential that the USA extended its assistance to meet Europe’s requirement in upcoming years. He also mentioned that Europe’s reconstruction was necessary for peace and stability of the world.

US president Roosevelt, British prime minister Churchill, and the Soviet leader Stalin met in Yalta in early February 1945 (“Yalta and Division of Europe”). The war was at its end. It was clear that Germany would lose the war. The goal of the Yalta conference was to determine the future of the postwar world, especially of Europe. Though, Yalta conference advocated that the people of Europe would create democratic institutions of their own choice, but it did not happen. Soviet Union secured its western border by imposing socialists’ governments in Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Romania, and Bulgaria. Even Germany was divided into two parts: DDR and FRG. DDR was a Soviet satellite. Though, Marshall Plan called for involvement of all European countries, but Soviet satellite countries did not participate in this program. Marshall in his speech voiced, “Our policy is directed not against any country or doctrine, but against hunger, poverty, desperation, and chaos”. However, all Soviet satellite countries opted not to extend their hands to this program, which divided Europe into two blocks, initiating the well-known cold war, which ended with the collapse of Soviet Union.

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