Marshall Aid Launched
The 5th of June 1947 AD
After WWI war reparations imposed at the Treaty of Versailles led to political instability and resentment in Germany. The victors of WWII again imposed massive charges on Germany after WWII , largely in the form of industrial machinery; but the USA recognized that action was needed to prevent hunger and despair in Europe providing fertile ground for revolution and putsch.
On June 5 1947 Secretary of State George Marshall made a speech at Harvard University launching the aid plan that became synonymous with him. As he explained, the grants (not to be repaid) were to rebuild economic health in the world, to the long-term benefit of the USA along with those rescued. “Our policy is not directed against any country, but against hunger, poverty, desperation and chaos,” as he said.
The USSR and its allies for reasons of principle – and with Stalin hoping to kill the plan and gain from the resulting problems in Europe - refused the aid. Britain in the end was granted £3.3 billion, more than any other recipient and roughly a quarter of the entire aid given. The plan was signed into law in the USA by President Truman on April 3 1948.
Though many were sceptical about what the plan would achieve, by the time in 1951 that aid ended Western Europe had been spurred to an unprecedented period of economic growth, rapidly surpassing pre-war output levels. Stalin may have made a grave miscalculation: the Communist Bloc fell behind the economic power of the Western European countries never to make up the ground; and eventually the disparities were such that in the late 1980s the people of the East demanded political change.
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