December 28, 1947 – The Job Of Reconstruction – The Job Of Hearts And Minds
With the end of World War 2 going on some two years, the job of reconstruction; of building, repairing and mending broken lives was still of primary importance. But so too, was the amount of influence various former allies were exercising over formerly occupied countries. The process of building was forging ahead, but so was the encroaching Cold War, where Communist influence was becoming more of a concern as the process of electing governments was taking shape.
Months earlier was the introduction of the Marshall Plan, an ambitious program of providing devastated countries with economic aid and assistance for rebuilding infrastructure and to shape democratic governments. But so too, was the Soviet Union, attempting roughly the same thing, only in exchange for aid was creating spheres of influence throughout the region, with Communist governments taking control in crucial countries.
Much of the problem centered around the issue of Germany; whether to divide or to unify. The Soviets were dead-against reunification; favoring a divided Germany which could pose no threat to peace in the coming years. Britain, the U.S. and France were favoring unification but with stipulations. Also at issue was the resource-rich Ruhr Valley which was in dispute between the allies, as Russia claimed it for theirs, while both the U.S. and Britain had provided much-needed equipment and aid to resume mining activities in the area.
In concert with this dispute were labor issues, with strikes taking place at many industrial areas around Western Europe. Sources in the West laid blame on the labor unrest to the work of Communist party agitators, stirring up dissension and disrupting elections.
There were many reasons for the tenuous state of affairs in Europe. The thing of not repeating the same steps that led to a Second World War, after so many hopes were pinned on a permanent peace after the First World War. The stakes had changed and the issues more complex – and the art of skillful negotiation was crucial.
Here is a commentary on those events, which became important issues for 1947 as the year was drawing to a close, by Cesar Searchinger and his weekly program Story Behind The Headlines over NBC Radio on December 28, 1947.