After the failed August 1991 coup attempt in Russia, defense specialists identified the need for an institution such as the Marshall Center. The U. S. European Command began to develop proposals to expand defense and security contacts with the emerging democracies of Central and Eastern Europe and Eurasia in order to positively influence the development of security structures appropriate for democratic states. In February 1992, a proposal was submitted to then-Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Colin Powell to use the facilities of the former U.S. Army Russian Institute to create a European center for security studies in order to rapidly develop opportunities to work with European and Eurasian defense establishments.
He endorsed the plan on March 17, 1992. Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Paul Wolfowitz approved the proposal that summer, and the staffs began developing a charter for the proposed center.
Former Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney signed DOD Directive 5200.34 in November 1992, establishing the George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies as an element of EUCOM under the authority, direction and control of the commander-in-chief, EUCOM. The Marshall Center became a German-American partnership when a memorandum of agreement was signed on December 2, 1994, between headquarters EUCOM and the German Ministry of Defense.
EUCOM Commander in Chief Gen. John M. Shalikashvili hosted the June 5, 1993 ceremony officially dedicating the Marshall Center in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany. The center was given the charter of stabilizing and thereby strengthening post-Cold War Europe. Secretary of Defense Les Aspin and German Minister of Defense Volker Rühe were the keynote speakers.
The facilities of the Marshall Center encompass both the Sheridan and Artillery Kasernes. Sheridan Kaserne, originally named Jaeger Kaserne, was built in 1937 to house German military troops. The U.S. Army first used the installation in 1945 as a prisoner-of-war camp for officers. The headquarters of the First Mountain Division of the new German Federal Armed Forces (Bundeswehr) was located on the Kasernes from 1960 to 1992. The installation became home to the Garmisch U.S. military community, the headquarters of the Armed Forces Recreation Center and the former USARI in May 1964. In June 1992, the facilities transferred to the newly formed George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies.
On June 11, 2003, the Marshall Center celebrated its 10th anniversary. U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and German Minister of Defense Dr. Peter Struck were the keynote speakers. Nine other ministers of defense from the region also attended the festivities.
Since its dedication, the Marshall Center has addressed the most important security issues confronting Europe, Eurasia and North America through its resident and outreach programs. In keeping abreast of 21st century security challenges, the Marshall Center has continued to expand its offerings, adding three new resident courses since 2004 and focusing on the need for international, interagency and interdisciplinary cooperation in addressing those challenges.
The facilities of the George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies encompass both the Sheridan and Artillery Kasernes. Sheridan Kaserne, originally named Jaeger Kaserne, was constructed in 1937 to house German Wehrmacht troops.
The U.S. Army first used the installation in 1945 as a prisoner-of-war camp for officers. The Headquarters of the First Mountain Division of the new German Bundeswehr was located on the Kasernes from 1960 - 1992.
The installation became home to the Garmisch U.S. Military Community, the headquarters of the Armed Forces Recreation Center (AFRC) and the former U.S. Army Russian Institute in May 1964. In June 1992, the facilities on Sheridan Kaserne transferred to the new George C. Marshall Center.
He was our Noblest Knight...
The Honorable Vernon Walters
Former U.S. Ambassador to Germany during the statue dedication ceremonies April 30th, 1998, Garmisch, Germany
Marshall served in the United States Army from 1902 until 1947. As Chief of Staff of the Army from 1939 to 1945, he was, in the words of Winston Churchill, the "true architect of victory" in the Western European theater of World War II.
General George C. Marshall
"...our students must first seek to understand the conditions, as far as possible without national prejudices, which have led to past tragedies and should strive to determine the great fundamentals which must govern a peaceful progression toward a constantly higher level of civilization."
Lecture given following receipt of Nobel Peace Prize December 11, 1953, University of Oslo
After resigning as Army Chief of Staff in November 1945, Marshall spent a year in China as President Truman's special representative, holding the personal rank of ambassador. He attempted, without success, to end the conflict between the nationalists and the communists. He retired from active U.S. Army service in February 1947 after more than 45 years of service. He then followed his remarkable Army career by assuming positions of great responsibility as he devoted his efforts to the cause of international peace.
As Secretary of State from 1947 to 1949, his Marshall Plan became the vehicle for the economic reconstruction of Europe. While Europeans endured unemployment, dislocation, and starvation in the wake of World War II’s devastation, the Marshall Plan embodied Marshall’s conviction that economic recovery and stability were vital underpinnings to the successful rebuilding of a democratic Europe. Marshall’s belief that America’s security and continued economic growth were inextricably linked to Europe’s well-being formed the cornerstone of his plan.
With the assistance of the Marshall Plan, Western Europe began to recover from the ravages of war. Marshall’s effort to include the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe in this grand design was rejected by Moscow. As Western Europe rebuilt, Europe was divided both economically and ideologically, and conflicting politics soon laid the ground for another war—the Cold War.
When it became evident that the gap between Eastern and Western Europe would not be bridged, and that the Western European states feared for their safety, Marshall was one of the leaders who created NATO, which would ensure the security of the West. The establishment of NATO in 1949 achieved a balance of power in Europe that endured until the end of the Cold War. In his last official position, as Secretary of Defense from 1950 to 1951, Marshall oversaw the formation of an international force, under the United Nations, that turned back the North Korean invasion of South Korea.
Although he spent most of his life in military service, Marshall is best remembered as a true internationalist who sought peace for the world through cooperation and understanding among nations. It was a fitting tribute to a career devoted to this ideal that Marshall received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1953. He is the only soldier ever to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. The principles of Marshall’s vision for post-World War II Europe are those which led to the establishment of the George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies in 1993.
A statue of Marshall was dedicated at the Marshall Center on April 30, 1998. Jointly sponsored by the George C. Marshall Center, the private organization called the Friends of the Marshall Center, and the City of Garmisch-Partenkirchen, the work of art is the first known public statue of Marshall erected in Europe. The larger-than-life statue depicts General Marshall striding out into the community, through a parting iron curtain, past walls that have been broken down. He is walking over a bridge, facing to the east and his hand is outstretched in friendship. German artist, Christiane Horn of Wartenburg, Bavaria, was the sculptor of the piece.
George C. Marshall, 20th Century Patriot
The Legacy and Vision of A Soldier-Statesman - Lt. Chad Tidwell, US Navy Reserve
Noah Webster, one of our founding fathers, defined patriotism as love for or devotion to ones country. From the American Revolution through the Persian Gulf War, our country has have seen many heroic leaders and patriots. In the 1700s, General George Washington, the "Father of our Nation" led the Continental Army to victory over the Redcoats. He went on to serve 2 terms as the 1st president of the United States of America. In the 1800s Col. Joshua Chamberlain led the 20th Maine Infantry during the battle of Gettysburg. His courage and bravery on Little Round Top preserved a Union victory. For his actions he was awarded the very 1st Congressional Medal of Honor. After the civil war he served four terms as Governor of Maine. With love and service to America both as soldiers and statesmen, Washington and Chamberlain stand out as Patriots in their respective centuries.
As humanity moves into a more global society one man stands out over the last one hundred years as a true patriot, a patriot not only to the United States of America, but to the world as well. That man is George C. Marshall.
The alpine village of Garmisch-Partenkirchen lies in the heart of the Bavarian Alps in southern Germany. Within this charming small town is a military installation where military and national security professionals from America, Europe and Eurasia come to study together as a community of nations building a more stable, secure and prosperous future. This is the George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies, a German-American institution. To fully understand the goals and vision of the Marshall Center we must first look to the hero and patriot for whom it is named.
George Catlett Marshall Jr. was born Dec. 31 1880 in Uniontown, Pennsylvania. The youngest of three children he grew up in the "industrial revolution". Many changes were taking place including Thomas Edison's invention of the light bulb the year before George's birth. During his teenage years George became one of the first people in town to talk on the phone with someone in Chicago.
Spankings and whippings were a part of home and school discipline during George's growing up and he received his fare share. At age six he went to a private school. His favorite part of school was recess. He liked to play soldier and giving orders. He would line up the children, give them stick guns to carry on their shoulders and march them around the schoolyard. George struggled in the classroom but managed to graduate from the local high school in Uniontown. Much of his learning and education came from home and the St. Peter's Episcopal Church to which the family were active members. George C. Marshall Sr., George's father read books by popular writers of the time to his family at night.
George and his father spent hours together hunting and fishing. George Sr. would tell his son exciting stories during their excursions together. Young George had a passion for history and learned about his family's long line of service and duty to country. His father served in the Union militia at age sixteen. Two of his Father's brothers fought for General Lee's Army of Northern Virginia. Another relative, Colonel Charles Marshall, was an aide to Robert E. Lee and wrote his farewell address at Appomattox as the General dictated. He also learned about John Marshall, the 3rd Supreme Court Chief Justice.
After high school George decided he wanted to attend Virginia Military Institute like his older brother Stuart. "When I was begging to go to VMI, I overheard Stuart talking to my mother;" he said. "He was trying to persuade her not to let me go because he thought I would disgrace the family name. Well, that made more of an impression on me than all instructors, parental pressure, or anything else. I decided right there I was going to wipe his eye."
During Marshals first year at VMI as a Fourth classman (or rat, as they are referred to) he endured the hazing while focusing his attention on becoming a good cadet. His grades improved and at the end of the school year he was appointed First Corporal of the Cadets, the top position for the third class. He took on many more responsibilities, reporting all cadets he saw violating regulations regardless of who they were. He gained even more respect from classmates because he was always fair in the performance of his duties. In the spring of 1899 he was again promoted to the top rank of First Sergeant for his junior or 2nd class year.
During the summer break of that same year George Marshall witnessed something that would significantly impact his life. While at home in Uniontown between school terms, the Uniontown Company of the 10th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry returned from the Philippines. The soldiers coming back from the Spanish-American War were given a hero's welcome, complete with a parade along Main Street. Marshall recalls years later, "I have sometimes thought that the impressions of that period and particularly of that parade, had a determining effect on my choice of a profession. It was a grand American small town demonstration of pride in its young men and of wholesome enthusiasm over their achievements. Years later most of us realized it was much more than that. It reflected the introduction of America into the affairs of the world beyond the seas."
At the end of his 3rd year Marshall reached the pinnacle of success at VMI. He was announced as the First Captain, putting him in charge of the entire Corps of Cadets. During his senior year Marshall played football for the first time and was named all southern conference tackle in 1900. He finished his academic career in the middle of the pack, graduating 15th out of a class of thirty-three. He was an all-around cadet, excelling in military and athletic ability. George Marshall turned out to be one of the best cadet officers VMI had ever seen.
The toughest obstacle his senior year was not school but rather obtaining an army commission. George Sr. wrote letters to congressmen for his son. The VMI Superintendent even wrote a letter to President McKinley on Marshall's behalf. After exhausting all other avenues Marshall went to Washington D.C. himself. He made his way into the office of President McKinley and expressed his desire to be allowed to take the examination for a commission. The fact that he would visit the Commander in Chief displayed the persevering desire Marshall had at age 20 to become a professional soldier. His success at persuading the President of the United States would be a skill he would use again years later with other world leaders.
In 1902 he was sent to the Philippines as a newly commissioned 2nd. Lt. Here he learned the job of field command. While leading his seven-man patrol single file through a jungle stream one-day, one of the men screamed "Crocodiles!" The patrol panicked and trampled Marshall en route to the bank. Marshall never lost his composure. He picked himself up, walked over and ordered the men to fall in. He then marched them back across the stream they had fled from and gave them the opportunity to cross again maintaining bearing in correct military fashion.
In 1906 Marshall received orders to the Arms Infantry and Cavalry School at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. Here he recognized that the industrial revolution had fundamentally changed the nature of war. Marshall finished number one in his class at Leavenworth and received his first of many promotions. He then reported to the Army Staff College. Marshall began to develop a reputation of distinguished performance. His knowledge and experience from the classroom to the field shined as he became a logistical wizard (expert) of moving entire armies with remarkable agility and coordination.
While Marshall was conducting maneuvers in the Philippines in 1914 rumor has it that the commanding general called him "the greatest military general since Stonewall Jackson." While at Fort Douglas, Utah, in 1916, the commanding officer observing Marshals performance reported "this officer is well qualified to command a division, with the rank of major general, in time of war and I would like very much to serve under his command."
Because of his reputation Marshall was among the first Americans to see combat in WW I. As Chief of Operations, he organized the famous First Division while on the high seas en route to France. Moving up to Chief of Staff of the First Division, he had a memorable confrontation with the Commander of U.S. forces, Gen. John J. Pershing. Extremely upset that Pershing would "chew out" Maj. Gen. William L Sibert in front of his officers, Capt. Marshall spoke out. "There are some things to be said here, I think I should say them." He then blasted Pershing with a furious monologue addressing the condition of the troops and inadequate supplies and transportation. For most officers this display would have been career suicide, but Marshall was transferred to Pershing's headquarters at Chaumont and later became the General's principal aide.
A brilliant strategist, Marshall was called upon to handle the logistics of the American part of an allied counter attack. During the Meuse-Argonne operation he coordinated the transfer of some 600,000 troops along with 900,000 ton of war materials at night in secret without detection of the enemy. After WW I and a promotion to Lt. Col., Marshall commanded the Infantry School at Fort Benning, Georgia as the assistant commandant. He stressed to his instructors and students "Plan for the first six months of the next war!" He designed the curriculum to train young officers in the lessons of firepower and tactics of modern warfare. Among his instructors and students were 150 future generals including Omar Bradley and Joseph Stilwell. His foresight in predicting future combat situations involving fast moving planes, tanks and armored cars would pay great dividends against the blitzkrieg of WW II.
In October of 1936 at the age of 55, Marshall was promoted to Brig Gen.. Shortly thereafter he went to Washington where he served as Chief of War Plans and Deputy Chief of Staff. His performance in these positions caused President Franklin D. Roosevelt to choose the general as the most qualified leader to meet the upcoming military challenges. With the dark cloud of war hovering over the world, Marshall was appointed Army Chief of Staff on September 1, 1939, the same day Hitler's troops invaded Poland. Marshall took a military ranked seventeenth among the world's armed forces with less than 200,000 men and ultimately turned it into a fighting machine eight million strong.
In the spring of 1940 Marshall convinced Roosevelt to ask Congress for a billion-dollar budget. "Mr. President" he concluded, "If you do not do something immediately I fear what will happen to this country." Marshall, ever seeming to predict the future, prepared, trained and commanded a fighting force in nine theaters throughout the world.
Marshall was superb in his duties as the Commander of all U.S. military forces. His influence and respect from Congress were instrumental with an extension of the draft as well as periodic request for enormous appropriations to Fund the war effort. House Speaker Sam Rayburn speaking of Marshall said, "When General Marshall takes the witness stand to testify, we forget whether we are Republicans or Democrats. We know we are in the presence of a man who is telling the truth about the problem he is discussing."
Even with his busy schedule interacting with Congress and planning strategy with the top military brass, the Chief of Staff made constant visits to his troops and made lists to make sure their needs were met. "Morale is a function of command" he repeated. "It wins the victory because it provides courage and hope, confidence and loyalty."
He was once informed that an issue of blankets to Fort Benning was stalled due to paperwork. He notified the officers responsible. "Get those blankets and stoves and every other damn thing that's needed out tonight," he ordered. "Not tomorrow, tonight! We are going to take care of the troops first, last and all the time." Marshall established Post Exchanges overseas to maintain high morale among the troops. He also ordered that hot Thanksgiving turkey dinners be supplied to all troops including those on the front lines. General Marshall had a genuinely deep concern for each of his servicemen. He wrote to the wife or parent of each man who was killed in WW II.
After successfully leading the allies to victory, Marshall retired as Army Chief of Staff in November 1945. The next day President Harry Truman called him back to duty as the Ambassador to China. Marshall spent less than a year in China attempting to reach a peaceful agreement between the Chiang Kai-Shes Nationalist and Mao Tse-Tuns Communists.
In 1947 he was appointed Secretary of State. Ever a humble man, Marshall did not have a taste of flamboyancy. He did not smoke a corn cob pipe or wear a pearl handled pistol, which may be one of the reasons he is often not remembered with the vividness of Generals MacArthur and Patton. During the second session of the United Nations in New York City, most foreign dignitaries and political leaders stayed at the ritzy Waldorf Hotel. Marshall chose the more modest accommodations of the Pennsylvania Hotel. When he was commented to about how almost everyone else was staying at the Waldorf, Marshall replied "Well, I like to see the look on an ambassador's face when he comes over here from the Waldorf to ask us for 500 million dollars."
Marshall took the office of Secretary of State in a very crucial period of World History. The physical destruction and economic dislocation of WW I I had left Europe in shambles with wide spread hunger and poverty, a complete breakdown of social and economic life. On June 5, 1947 at Harvard University commencement ceremonies Marshall delivered a speech concerning the severe predicament of war-torn Europe. During his ten-minute presentation, he outlined a plan to assist Europe's economic recovery by pouring in massive amounts of U.S. money and material. He referred to his plan, as the European Recovery Program but it soon became commonly known as the Marshall Plan.
Over a four-year period Congress appropriated $13.3 billion to rebuild Europe. Several critical events took place while the Marshall plan was in effect. First, the Berlin Airlift kept democracy alive in the Soviet occupied Germany. In 1949 the French, British, and American zones of occupation merged to become the Federal Republic of Germany. That same year the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) was formed, with Germany joining six years later. The Marshall Plan was extremely successful in helping Europe get back on its feet. Helmut Schmidt, the Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany between 1974-1982, grew up during that time period and said "We appreciated the risk the American government had assumed, and saw the U.S. as the military, political, and economic anchor of the security and well being of Western Europe. The U.S. had proven itself a generous nation, standing by its commitments and fulfilling its promises."
Marshall retired as Secretary of State the day of President Truman's second inauguration. Within the year he was serving as President of the American Red Cross, a position he held from 1949 until the outbreak of the Korean War. In 1950, President Truman again called on Marshall, this time as Secretary of Defense. As the conflict in Korea came to a close Marshall at the age of 70 was allowed truly and finally to retire. On May 15, 1951 he was honored by his old alma mater. One of the three arches in the VMI cadet barracks was named after him (the others are named for George Washington and Stonewall Jackson).
On Oct. 16, 1959 George Marshall, America's hero and patriot, in fact its ultimate soldier-statesman, died and was laid to rest in Arlington National Cemetery. His life extended eight decades and was distinguished by 49 years of military and public service. Some of his greatest assets were his integrity, exceptional patriotism and profound humility. He was a leader who set high goals and possessed the ability to concentrate on the task at hand. He was a visionary who seemed to have a window into the future.
What would have happened if General Marshall had not had the foresight to prepare the United States for WW I I? What would the world be like if Secretary of State Marshall had not put into action a vision to rebuild Europe into an economically stable region? Marshall's compassion, wisdom, hard work and sacrifice to his country and mankind have created a better world for all of us. The Marshall Plan officially ended on December 31, 1951, however is influence can still be felt today. The European Recovery Program set the precedent of foreign aid as a vital element of U.S. Foreign policy.
Marshall's vision created a new spirit of cooperation, mutual help and support between Western Europe and the United States which led to the strong and established NATO alliance. Since Marshals death many changes have taken place in world affairs. The recent end to the Cold war and break up of the former Soviet Union has created an environment in many ways is similar to post WW I I Europe. Marshals legacy, ideals, and vision continue to impact world affairs today.
In March 1992, Gen. Colin Powell, then Chairmen of the joint Chiefs of Staff endorsed a proposal to create a institution to expand defense and security contacts with the emerging democracies of Central and Eastern Europe and Eurasia. Supported bilaterally by the governments of the U.S. and Germany, the George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies was dedicated in 1993. At the heart of the Center is the College of International and Security Studies. Organized like a senior service college with seminars, lectures and other interaction. Students are taught "how" to think rather than "what" to think. There is no "School solution."
The international college faculty presents models and options but teaches that each country must make its own democratic adaptations and constructs. Noting that America's founding fathers scrapped their first government (the articles of the Confederation) in favor of an even better democracy that has now prospered over 220 years. The Defense and Security Studies (DSS) Program offers three international courses. A two-week Senior Executive Course is geared toward Flag Officers and senior government officials. The Executive Course of 15 weeks is aimed at mid grade officers. Junior officers and their civilian equivalents attend the nine-week leaders for the 21st Century Course. Each course is reviewed and revised regularly to remain relevant and focused on how national security strategy is formulated and maintained. All courses are taught in English, Russian and German.
The College of International and Security Studies also coordinates the Research program, Foreign Area Officer Program (FAO) and Foreign Language Training Center Europe (FLTCE). Both the FAO and FLTCE programs are intensive language, political-military and regional studies preparing individuals for key assignments dealing with foreign nations. In addition to the college the Marshall Center has another aspect that serves as an international forum for defense contacts to share ideas vital to European Security.
The conference Center is a mobile arm of the Marshall Center that brings experts to the host nations for seminars and conferences, which focus on a variety of security and economic concerns. Since 1993 the Conference Center has had over 5000 attendees. The participation in the Marshall Center program has been overwhelming. Nineteen NATO nations and twenty-four Partners for Peace (PFP) nations have been represented. The College boasts alumni that serve as Ministers of Defense, Ambassadors, and Chiefs of Staff in new democracies throughout Europe.
In continuing to fulfill Marshall's legacy. the Marshall Center is building a network of national security officials across the globe. Military and civilian professionals have a unique opportunity to study with their counterparts from other countries. The relationships they build and the knowledge they gain from each other while united together creating solutions to common problems is invaluable.
Sir Winston Churchill once delivered this tribute to Marshall: "During my long and close association with successive American administrations, there are few men whose qualities of mind and character have impressed me so deeply. He was a great American, wise in war, understanding in council, resolute in action. In peace he was the architect who planned the restoration of the battered European economy. He always fought victoriously against defeatism, discouragement and disillusion. Succeeding generations must not forget his achievements and his example".
The former Marshall Center Director, Dr. Robert Kennedy explained the Center's mission as "Creating a new community of nations from the Atlantic to Russia and Central Asia that share values, concerns, and objectives in attempt to find common ground for common action."
The entrance to the Marshall Center campus has the only known statue of the General in Europe. Marshals words from the Marshall Plan speech are inscribed there as a reminder: "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."
Dr. Kennedy concluded, "Marshall's objective was to reach out to the nations of Eastern Europe and win a community of nations as partners. We have extended that vision to Europe and Eurasia. In post cold war period there is an unprecedented opportunity to do so. Again, not to advance the policy of any particular nation but to advance the well-being of all countries.
His life and legacy
George C. Marshall, one of the great American statesmen of this century, played a crucial role in international affairs from 1939 to 1951 -- the years that shaped the second half of the twentieth century. Until 1945, he served in the United States Army. As Chief of Staff of the U.S. Army from 1939 to 1945 he was, in the words of Winston Churchill, the "true Architect of Victory" in the West European arena of World War II.
In a succession of positions of great responsibility between 1945 and 1951, Marshall devoted his efforts to the cause of international peace. He spent a year in China from 1945 - 46 as President Truman's representative, attempting -- without success to bring about a resolution to the conflict between the nationalists and the communists. As Secretary of State from 1947 to 1949, he had the vision to make the Marshall Plan the vehicle for the economic reconstruction of Europe.
As Europeans endured unemployment, dislocation, and starvation in the wake of World War II's devastation, the Marshall Plan embodied Marshall's conviction that economic recovery and stability were vital underpinnings to the successful rebuilding of a democratic Europe. Marshall's belief that America's security and continued economic growth were inextricably linked to Europe's well-being, formed the cornerstone of his Plan.
With the assistance of the Marshall Plan, Western Europe began to recover from the ravages of war. Marshall's effort to include the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe in this grand design was rejected by Moscow. As Western Europe rebuilt, Europe was divided both economically and ideologically, and conflicting politics soon laid the ground for another war -- The Cold War.
When it became evident that the gap between Eastern and Western Europe would not be bridged, and that the Western European states feared for their safety, Marshall was one of the leaders who created the North Atlantic Treaty Organization which would ensure the security of the West. The establishment of NATO in 1949 achieved a balance of power in Europe that endured until the end of the Cold War.
In his last official position, as Secretary of Defense from 1950-51, Marshall oversaw the formation of an international force, under the United Nations, that turned back the North Korean invasion of South Korea.
Although he spent most of his life in military service, Marshall is best remembered as a true internationalist who sought peace for the world through cooperation and understanding among nations. It was a fitting tribute to a career devoted to this ideal that Marshall received the Nobel Prize for Peace in 1953. He is the only soldier ever to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.
The principles of Marshall's vision for post-World War II Europe are those which led to the establishment of the George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies in 1993.
In Graduation exercises at the Marshall Center in 1996, then Secretary of Defense William J. Perry said , "The Marshall Plan (1949) offered Europe a new passage toward reconstruction and renewal...Today we have a second chance to make Marshall's vision a reality; to build a Europe united in peace, freedom and democracy."
History of the Marshall Plan
The years immediately following the end of World War II were devastating for Europe. The economy was in ruins; there was great political instability and widespread personal suffering. This was the state of affairs when General of the Army George Catlett Marshall became U.S. Secretary of State in early 1947. At a March 1947 conference of foreign ministers, Marshall met with Joseph Stalin and realized that Russia was not interested in providing aid to Europe. He could see that Europe's only hope was through assistance from the United States. He strongly believed that it was in the best interest of the United States to help Europe rebuild and to achieve economic stability in the region.
In the following months, Marshall and others drafted a plan that would be acceptable to the European and American people. These ideas resulted in his famous speech given as the commencement address at Harvard, June 5, 1947. Marshall stated that without help, Europe faced grave "economic, social, and political deterioration." A key element of his proposal was that the initiative for reconstruction had to come from the participating countries.
The Harvard speech resulted in the development of the European Recovery Program of 1948. This program established the Economic Cooperation Administration, which provided more than 13.3 billion dollars to participating Western European countries. The plan's achievements include:
- The GNP in Europe rose 32.5 percent, from 119 billion dollars in 1947 to 159 billion dollars in 1951.
- Industrial production increased 40 percent from prewar levels; agricultural output 11percent.
- By 1953 European trade volume increased 40 percent.
The Marshall Plan achieved its objective of increasing productivity, stimulating economic growth, and promoting trade. It improved living standards and strengthened the economic, social, and political structures in participating countries. It strengthened political stability in the region and contributed greatly to containing the spread of communism.
Aid provided by the Marshall Plan officially ended on Dec. 31, 1951. However, the Marshall Plan and its self-help principles laid the foundation for the continuance of foreign aid as a key element of U.S. foreign policy. The Marshall Plan created a new spirit of cooperation, mutual help, and support between Western Europe and the United States. It enabled the establishment of a strong and enduring NATO alliance. Given these remarkable results, it is considered one of the most successful foreign policy initiatives in U.S. history.
The legacy, the goals, and the ideals of the Marshall Plan continue through the defense education efforts of the George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies. The center's mission is to create a more stable security environment by advancing democratic defense institutions and relationships; promoting active, peaceful security cooperation; and enhancing enduring partnerships among the nations of North America, Europe and Eurasia.
Marshall Plan Speech
U.S. Secretary of State George C. Marshall initiated the European Recovery Program to rehabilitate the economies of a Europe devastated by war. Speaking at Harvard's June 1947 commencement, he outlined the program that came to be known as the Marshall Plan.
The Marshall Plan speech
I'm profoundly grateful and touched by the great distinction and honor and great compliment accorded me by the authorities of Harvard this morning. I'm overwhelmed, as a matter of fact, and I'm rather fearful of my inability to maintain such a high rating as you've been generous enough to accord to me. In these historic and lovely surroundings, this perfect day, and this very wonderful assembly, it is a tremendously impressive thing to an individual in my position.
But to speak more seriously, I need not tell you that the world situation is very serious. That must be apparent to all intelligent people. I think one difficulty is that the problem is one of such enormous complexity that the very mass of facts presented to the public by press and radio make it exceedingly difficult for the man in the street to reach a clear appraisement of the situation. Furthermore, the people of this country are distant from the troubled areas of the Earth and it is hard for them to comprehend the plight and consequent reactions of the long-suffering peoples, and the effect of those reactions on their governments in connection with our efforts to promote peace in the world.
In considering the requirements for the rehabilitation of Europe, the physical loss of life, the visible destruction of cities, factories, mines, and railroads was correctly estimated, but it has become obvious during recent months that this visible destruction was probably less serious than the dislocation of the entire fabric of European economy. For the past 10 years conditions have been abnormal. The feverish preparation for war and the more feverish maintenance of the war effort engulfed all aspects of national economies. Machinery has fallen into disrepair or is entirely obsolete. Under the arbitrary and destructive Nazi rule, virtually every possible enterprise was geared into the German war machine.
Long-standing commercial ties, private institutions, banks, insurance companies and shipping companies disappeared through loss of capital, absorption through nationalization, or by simple destruction. In many countries, confidence in the local currency has been severely shaken. The breakdown of the business structure of Europe during the war was complete. Recovery has been seriously retarded by the fact that two years after the close of hostilities a peace settlement with Germany and Austria has not been agreed upon. But even given a more prompt solution of these difficult problems, the rehabilitation of the economic structure of Europe quite evidently will require a much longer time and greater effort than has been foreseen.
There is a phase of this matter which is both interesting and serious. The farmer has always produced the foodstuffs to exchange with the city dweller for the other necessities of life. This division of labor is the basis of modern civilization. At the present time it is threatened with breakdown. The town and city industries are not producing adequate goods to exchange with the food-producing farmer. Raw materials and fuel are in short supply. Machinery is lacking or worn out. The farmer or the peasant cannot find the goods for sale which he desires to purchase. So the sale of his farm produce for money which he cannot use seems to him an unprofitable transaction. He, therefore, has withdrawn many fields from crop cultivation and is using them for grazing. He feeds more grain to stock and finds for himself and his family an ample supply of food, however short he may be on clothing and the other ordinary gadgets of civilization. Meanwhile, people in the cities are short of food and fuel, and in some places approaching the starvation levels. So the governments are forced to use their foreign money and credits to procure these necessities abroad. This process exhausts funds which are urgently needed for reconstruction. Thus a very serious situation is rapidly developing which bodes no good for the world. The modern system of the division of labor upon which the exchange of products is based is in danger of breaking down.
The truth of the matter is that Europe's requirements for the next three or four years of foreign food and other essential products -- principally from America -- are so much greater than her present ability to pay that she must have substantial additional help or face economic, social and political deterioration of a very grave character.
The remedy lies in breaking the vicious circle and restoring the confidence of the European people in the economic future of their own countries and of Europe as a whole. The manufacturer and the farmer throughout wide areas must be able and willing to exchange their product for currencies, the continuing value of which is not open to question.
Aside from the demoralizing effect on the world at large and the possibilities of disturbances arising as a result of the desperation of the people concerned, the consequences to the economy of the United States should be apparent to all. 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. Such assistance, I am convinced, must not be on a piecemeal basis as various crises develop. Any assistance that this government may render in the future should provide a cure rather than a mere palliative. Any government that is willing to assist in the task of recovery will find full cooperation, I am sure, on the part of the United States government. Any government which maneuvers to block the recovery of other countries cannot expect help from us. Furthermore, governments, political parties, or groups which seek to perpetuate human misery in order to profit therefrom politically or otherwise will encounter the opposition of the United States.
It is already evident that, before the United States government can proceed much further in its efforts to alleviate the situation and help start the European world on its way to recovery, there must be some agreement among the countries of Europe as to the requirements of the situation and the part those countries themselves will take in order to give proper effect to whatever action might be undertaken by this government. It would be neither fitting nor efficacious for this government to undertake to draw up unilaterally a program designed to place Europe on its feet economically. This is the business of the Europeans. The initiative, I think, must come from Europe. The role of this country should consist of friendly aid in the drafting of a European program and of later support of such a program so far as it may be practical for us to do so. The program should be a joint one, agreed to by a number, if not all, European nations.
An essential part of any successful action on the part of the United States is an understanding on the part of the people of America of the character of the problem and the remedies to be applied. Political passion and prejudice should have no part. With foresight, and a willingness on the part of our people to face up to the vast responsibility which history has clearly placed upon our country, the difficulties I have outlined can and will be overcome.
I am sorry that on each occasion I have said something publicly in regard to our international situation, I've been forced by the necessities of the case to enter into rather technical discussions. But to my mind, it is of vast importance that our people reach some general understanding of what the complications really are, rather than react from a passion or a prejudice or an emotion of the moment. As I said more formally a moment ago, we are remote from the scene of these troubles. It is virtually impossible at this distance merely by reading, or listening, or even seeing photographs or motion pictures, to grasp at all the real significance of the situation. And yet the whole world of the future hangs on a proper judgment. It hangs, I think, to a large extent on the realization of the American people, of just what are the various dominant factors. What are the reactions of the people? What are the justifications of those reactions? What are the sufferings? What is needed? What can best be done? What must be done?
Thank you very much.