Secretary of State George Marshall put together a plan for the economic rehabilitation and the reconstruction of post-war Europe. Two years after the end of World War 2, Europe was still struggling under the affects of devastation and intense poverty brought on by years of War. Germany was obliterated; its cities were reduced to rubble. Its citizens (the ones left) were homeless and starving. Even the victorious nations were in crisis. England bore the brunt of bombings which wiped out infrastructure and industry. France was devastated from years of occupation and invasion. And those countries of Eastern Europe were coming under the influence of the Soviet Union; one by one, countries formerly occupied by the Nazis were now occupied by the Soviets. And there were fears the Soviet influence was spreading west. It was already evidenced by the sudden growth of popularity of the Communist parties of France and Italy. The ranks of membership were swelling and candidates were running for office in elections taking place throughout Europe.
And so it was proposed that America come to the rescue, by offering substantial aid in getting Europe back on its feet. But more than an attempt to offer economic and industrial assistance, it was an attempt to stem a perceived tidal wave of Communism spreading throughout the region, by bolstering democratic elections and supporting governments which were not sympathetic to Communist ideologies by way of increased economic strength.
In this program, a weekly series called Story Behind The Headlines – historian and commentator Cesar Searchinger talks about the recent speech given by Secretary of State Marshall, giving his outline of the plan he was proposing to Congress and how it would impact on our presence in European politics and the affects of helping rebuild Europe. The Marshall Plan was a bold and crucial idea, coming about at a time when our former allies needed it the most. Many saw it as about the only way to re-establish Europe in the world and to help get it back on its feet.
Here is that broadcast of Story Behind The Headlines from December 18, 1947.