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The Marshall Plan
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Marshall Plan Speech
The Marshall Plan Aid Distribution
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The Marshall Plan
Poster promoting European Recovery Program (Marshall Plan) in English and German.

The Marshall Plan was the name given to the plan that was developed to rebuild Europe after the Second World War. It was officially known as the European Recovery Plan (ERP). It was named after the United States Secretary of State George Marshall, and was intended to bring stability and peace to the world at a very difficult time.

The reconstruction plan was developed at a meeting of the participating European countries in July 1947. The Soviet Union and the countries of Eastern Europe were invited, but the Soviet leader Josef Stalin saw the plan as a threat and did not allow the participation of any countries under Soviet control. The U.S. President Truman signed the Marshall Plan into law on April 3, 1948.

Economic Support

The plan was to operate for four years. The Marshall Plan money was transferred to the governments of the European nations. During that period, $13 billion of economic and technical assistance (nearly $100 billion in 2005 dollars) was given to help the recovery of the European countries which had joined in the Organization for European Economic Co-operation (OEEC). West Germany received $1.7 billion.

The victorious allies wanted to prevent Germany from once again re-arming itself after the end of the Second World War. They had learned lessons from the First World War, when Germany was severely punished for its role in that war. Anger in Germany about this punishment created the fertile soil for the Nazi regime. This time, the allies wanted to make sure that Germany could recover from its enormous losses. So it also benefited from the Marshall Plan.

New Prosperity

By the time the plan ended, the economy of every country helped by the plan (except Germany), had grown well past pre-war levels. Over the next two decades, Western Europe as a whole enjoyed growth and prosperity. Industrial production increased by 35%. Agricultural production substantially surpassed pre-war levels. The poverty and starvation of the immediate postwar years disappeared.

The Marshall Plan ended in 1951, as originally scheduled.

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Image courtesy of Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division.
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This day in history
Today: 12 December 2017
Then: 11 December 1941

Germany and Italy declare war on the United States; the U.S. respond in kind.

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