The Marshall Plan

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  • Topic: United States, World War II, Europe
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  • Published : February 20, 2010
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THE MARSHALL PLAN

By the end of World War II much of Europe was devastated. The region’s economic structure was ruined and the devastation to agriculture left millions starving and homeless. During the war, Axis powers targeted the transportation infrastructure, leaving railways, bridges, and roads in a state of severe disrepair. Much of the civilian merchant shipping industry had also suffered severe damage. Due to the economic strain placed on the European countries during the war, many had exhausted their treasuries. If not for The United State’s aid in the form of the Lend-Lease program during wartime efforts, this damage would have been much worse and the outcome may have been different.

The United States however, did not suffer the same severity of destruction on its own territory. Consequently its massive agriculture and manufacturing base was still intact. For these reasons, The United States saw it necessary to offer goods, services, and monies to any European or Asian country, be it an Allied or Axis power.

The U.S. continued providing aid after the war was over. Between 1945 and 1948, the U.S. sent $12 billion in aid to European Nations. The world’s major economies were crumbling and the U.S. realized the global impact. General George C. Marshall introduced a recovery plan in 1947, the European Recovery Plan or ERP. This plan, which later became known as the Marshall Plan, was the primary program for rebuilding and creating a stronger economic foundation for the countries of Western Europe during the post-war era, 1948-1952.

The Marshall Plan provided an additional $13 billion in aid to European nations. Post-war relief from the U.S. totaled $25 billion. With a GDP of $258 billion, U.S. post-war investment in foreign countries totaled 10% of its GDP. For all Marshall Plan participants, the economic output was 35% higher in 1951 than the 1938 pre-war era. Poverty and starvation disappeared and Western Europe began two decades of growth...
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