75 Years of the Marshall Plan
Eight decades ago, Europe lay in ruins. Hope, trust, and a vision for the future were buried beneath the rubble. Survival was paramount.
The United States, relatively untouched by the devastation of war, saw that Europe could only recover if it had a plan to bring its people together, working again towards a vision of a better future.
The European Recovery Plan became that vision and restored that hope and trust. Announced by Secretary of State General George C. Marshall in a speech at Harvard University on June 5, 1947, the ERP, better known today as “The Marshall Plan,” served as the foundation of restoring Europe, leading to the unification that we all profit from today.
Marshall’s plan was, as he said in his speech, “directed not against any country or doctrine, but against hunger, poverty, desperation and chaos.”
The Marshall Plan, built on the idea that European nations would work together to restore their communities and build the transatlantic alliance, became a reality in April 1948. The United States provided over 13 billion dollars (the equivalent of over $115 billion today) in loans and grants to a score of European nations. Food to stave off starvation and machines to build the things Europe needed were included in the Plan. Crucially, America opened its markets to the goods that Europe produced, creating the two-way street that stands today and is the basis of our security.
Marshall’s vision of open markets for ideas as well as goods, and a shared sense of security is carried on today at the George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany. Over the past three decades, the Marshall Center has focused on creating a new generation of leaders who have built an alliance of like-minded partners who share a commitment to continuing to build a more peaceful and prosperous future.
The Marshall Center, a unique German-American cooperative undertaking, is the place where ideas can be exchanged and relationships developed, thus bringing leaders together, much as the Marshall Plan did in the chaos of war-torn Europe. Today, with the hostilities tearing Ukraine apart, these common values are needed more than ever.
Born in the rubble and chaos of a world war, the Marshall Plan stands out today as a stellar example of how openness and generosity rewards all, both those who give and those who receive. The Marshall Center is proud to continue that tradition.