MARSHALL PLAN IN THE COLD WAR
The Marshall Plan is one of the most significant events of the history of the Cold War. The Cold War was a major world event that took place from approximately 1945 until 1990. In general, the Cold War was a period of increased tensions and hostility between the superpowers of the United States and the Soviet Union (USSR). The Marshall Plan was an economic recovery program following World War II, which aimed at stopping the spread of Communism in Europe.
When World War II came to an end in 1945, the Allied powers (USA, Britain and the Soviet Union) held conferences to discuss how Germany should be divided up upon its defeat. The first conference was held at Yalta in February of 1945 and the second was held at Potsdam in July of the same year. The agreements ultimately led to the splitting of the defeated Germany into four “allied zones” with portions controlled by the Soviet Union, USA, Britain and France. The conferences are considered by many historians to be the early stages of the Cold War since this was when tensions started to show between the former allies of the Soviet Union and the United States.
As the Allied countries liberated Europe from Nazi control and pushed the German army back into its own country, another development began to emerge. More specifically, Joseph Stalin’s forces captured and remained control over the European territory that they ‘liberated’. United States President Harry S. Truman, along with others, viewed this as a threat to the democratic world, because it saw the ideology of communism spreading throughout Europe. Truman was concerned that many other nations would ‘fall’ to communism and threaten democracy around the world.
In response Truman argued that the United States and its allies should actively combat the spread of communism wherever it emerges. Historians refer to this idea as the Truman Doctrine. As part of the Truman Doctrine, the United States worked to help rebuild Europe following the destruction of World War II. It was hoped that by rebuilding Europe, the United States could help prevent European countries from turning to communism.
In order to rebuild Europe, the United States implemented the economic policy called the European Recovery Program, although it is commonly known as the Marshall Plan. The plan took effect in April of 1948 and over a course of four years it saw the United States commit $12 billion (approximately $120 billion in today’s currency) dollars to rebuild Western Europe. The plan was named after Secretary of State George Marshall, who supported the economic recovery of Europe in the hopes that it would prevent the spread of communism and restore Western European democracies. At its heart, the Marshall Plan saw countries receive financial support when they adopted free market economic principles and opened their countries to free trade. In response to the Marshall Plan, the Soviet Union developed their own economic recovery plan called the Molotov Plan.