Marshall Plan

On 12th March, 1947, Harry S. Truman, announced details to Congress of what eventually became known as the Truman Doctrine. In his speech he pledged American support for "free peoples who are resisting attempted subjugation by armed minorities or by outside pressures". This speech also included a request that Congress agree to give military and economic aid to Greece in its fight against communism.

Three months later George C. Marshall, Truman's Secretary of State, announced details of what became known as the Marshall Plan or the European Recovery Program (ERP). Marshall offered American financial aid for a programme of European economic recovery. Ernest Bevin, the British foreign secretary, made it clear he fully supported the scheme but the idea was rejected by the Soviet Union. A conference was held in Paris in September and sixteen nations in Western Europe agreed on a four year recovery plan.

Country Allocations of Marshall Plan Aid
Country Allocations of Marshall Plan Aid

On 3rd April, 1948, Harry S. Truman signed the first appropriation bill authorizing $5,300,000,000 for the first year of the ERP. Paul G. Hoffman was appointed as head of the Organization for Economic Cooperation (OEEC) administration and by 1951 was able to report that industrial production in Western Europe had grown 30 per cent since the beginning of the Second World War.

The European Recovery Program came to an end on 31st December, 1951. It its three year existence, the ERP spent almost $12,500,000,000. It was succeeded by the Mutual Security Administration.

Primary Sources

(1) President Truman, speech to Congress (12th March, 1947)

The seeds of totalitarian regimes are nurtured by misery and want. They spread and grow in the evil soil of poverty and strife. They reach their full potential when the hope of a people for a better life has died. We must keep that hope alive. If we falter in our leadership, we may endanger the peace of the world - and we shall surely endanger the welfare of our own nation.

At the present moment in world history nearly every nation must choose between alternative ways of life. The choice is often not a free one. One way of life is based upon the will of the majority, and is distinguished by free institutions, representative government, free elections, guarantees of individual liberty, freedom of speech and religion, and freedom from political oppression.

The second way of life is based upon the will of a minority forcibly imposed upon the majority. It relies upon terror and oppression, a controlled press and radio, fixed elections, and the suppression of personal freedom. I believe that it must be the policy of the United States to support free peoples who are resisting attempted subjugation by armed minorities or by outside pressures.

(2) George Marshall, Secretary of State, speech at Harvard University (5th June, 1947)

It is logical that the United States should do whatever it is able to do to assist in the return of normal economic health in the world, without which there can be no political stability and no assured peace. Our policy is directed not against any country or doctrine but against hunger, poverty, desperation, and chaos. Its purpose should be the revival of a working economy in the world so as to permit the emergence of political and social conditions in which free institutions can exist.

(3) Andrei Vyshinsky, Soviet Union spokesman at the United Nations, speech (18th September, 1947)

The so-called Truman Doctrine and the Marshall Plan are particularly glaring examples of the manner in which the principles of the United Nations are violated, of the way in which the organization is ignored. This is clearly proved by the measures taken by the United States Government with regard to Greece and Turkey which ignore and bypass the United States as well as the measures proposed under the so-called Marshall Plan in Europe.

This policy conflicts sharply with the principles expressed by the General Assembly in its resolution of 11th December, 1946, which declares that relief supplies to other countries "should at no time be used as a political weapon". It is becoming more and more evident to everyone that the implementation of the Marshall Plan will mean placing European countries under the economic and political control of the United States.

The so-called Truman Doctrine and the Marshall Plan are particularly glaring examples of the way in which the principles of the United Nations are violated, of the way in which the Organisation is ignored. As is now clear, the Marshall Plan constitutes in essence merely a variant of the Truman Doctrine adapted to the conditions of postwar Europe. In bringing forward this plan, the United States Government apparently counted on the cooperation of the Governments of the United Kingdom and France to confront the European countries in need of relief with the necessity of renouncing their inalienable right to dispose of their economic resources and to plan their national economy in their own way. The United States also counted on making all these countries directly dependent on the interests of American monopolies, which are striving to avert the approaching depression by an accelerated export of commodities and capital to Europe.

It is becoming more and more evident to everyone that the implementation of the Marshall Plan will mean placing European countries under the economic and political control of the United States and direct interference by the latter in the internal affairs of those countries. Moreover, this plan is an attempt to split Europe into two camps and, with the help of the United Kingdom and France, to complete the formation of a bloc of several European countries hostile to the interests of the democratic countries of Eastern Europe and most particularly to the interests of the Soviet Union. An important feature of this Plan is the attempt to confront the - countries of Eastern Europe with a bloc of Western European States including Western Germany. The intention is to make use of Western Germany and German heavy industry (the Ruhr) as one of the most important economic bases for American expansion in Europe, in disregard of the national interests of the countries which suffered from German aggression.

(4) Konrad Adenauer, speech in Berne (23rd March, 1949)

It is impossible to understand the present condition of Germany without a brief survey of what happened after 1945. The unconditional surrender of the German armed forces in May 1945 was interpreted by the Allies to mean a complete transfer of governmental authority into their hands. This interpretation was wrong from the point of view of international law. By it the Allies in practice assumed a task which it was impossible for them to fulfil. I consider it to have been a grave mistake. They would have been unable to solve this task with the best will in the world. There was bound to be failure and this failure badly affected the prestige of the Allies in Germany. It would have been wiser if the Allies had, after a short intermediate state due to the confusion left by the war, let the Germans order their affairs and had confined themselves to supervision. Their attempt to govern this large disorganized country from outside, often guided by extraneous political and economic criteria of their own, was bound to fail. It brought about a rapid economic, physical, and psychological disintegration of the Germans which might have been avoided. It also seems that intentions such as had once been manifested in the Morgenthau Plan played their part. This continued until the Marshall Plan brought the turning point. The Marshall Plan will remain for all time a glorious page in the history of the United States of America. But the change was very slow and the economic, physical, moral, and political decline of Germany which had begun with the unconditional surrender took great efforts to reverse.

(5) George Kennan, Foreign Affairs Journal (July, 1957)

It is clear that the main element of any United States policy towards the Soviet Union must be that of a long-term, patient but firm and vigilant containment of Russian expansive tendencies. It is clear that the United states cannot expect in the foreseeable future to enjoy political intimacy with the Soviet regime. It must continue to regard the Soviet Union as a rival, not a partner, in the political arena.

(6) Felix Greene, The Enemy: What Every American Should Know About Imperialism (1965)

Marshall Plan aid, essentially intended to keep the post-war economies of the West Europe countries within the capitalist world, was also intended to dominate their economy. Every transaction was arranged to provide not only immediate profits for specific US banks, finance corporations, investment trusts and industries, but to make the European nations dependent on the United States.

(6) Miriam Moskowitz, Phantom Spies, Phantom Justice (2010)

The Marshall Plan resulted. It was an immense program of foreign aid in the form of American goods and services, ostensibly idealistic and designed to rebuild Europe, but it was hardly without self-interest. Since the Marshall Plan demanded the opening up of European markets to American penetration, the Soviet Union saw it as a hostile, predatory maneuver and declined to participate. It also loudly denounced it. On the other hand, the Plan's anti-Soviet nature was barely concealed with thinly veiled warnings about countries seeking to gain political ends through human misery. By clever maneuver America's political leaders also kept the Marshall Plan out of the United Nations where it would have logically belonged but where the Soviet Union with its powerful voice and decisive vote could have kept it stillborn.