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Marshall Plan: A Summary of its Significance and Effects

Marshall Plan: Significance, Effects, and Summary
The financial aid provided by America to the European nations to allow them to spring back on their feet after the second World War was under the Marshall Plan. In case you are wondering as to what impact the Marshall Plan had on the Cold War, this post will tell you more.
Anup Patwardhan
Last Updated: Mar 2, 2018
Matter of Fact
For his contribution in formation of the Marshall Plan, George Marshall was awarded the 'Nobel Peace Prize' in 1953.
I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones.
This sure has to be true for two reasons. First of all, this was the point of view of a certain Mr. Albert Einstein. I mean, the man was not a genius for no reason. As far as I am concerned, if he said this, that is the way it shall be. The second reason is the timing at which he had made this statement.
Albert Einstein
The havoc wreaked by the Second World War was there for everyone to see. It was not just Hiroshima and Nagasaki, or only Japan that had to suffer the heat. There was destruction all over. Europe was one of the central theaters for the battles. The economic systems of various, rather all European nations was barely functioning.

America, on the other hand, had entered the war mainly as an ally. Apart from an isolated incident or two, there was no actual battle taking place on American soil. Thus, the financial system and the infrastructure as a whole had by and large been intact. It had, thus, become the richest nation in the world. It had granted financial aid to help a devastated Europe to recover from the aftermath of the Second World War. This aid was granted under the 'Marshall Plan'.
Historical Significance of the Marshall Plan
George C Marshall postage stamp
After the World War had come to an end, there were negotiations in progress between Russia and America, mainly over the reconstruction of Germany. These negotiations had come to a standstill after the Moscow Conference. Post this, George Marshall, when clarifying the stand of the United States, had spoken about the issues that were to form a basis of the Marshall Plan, in a speech on June 5, 1947, at the Harvard University.
Almost 16 to 18 European nations had received aid from America under this plan named after the then Secretary of State George Marshall. The United States had given $17 billion, which today amounts to over $150 billion. This program was officially known as the 'European Recovery Program' (ERP), and provided aid for a span of four years, starting from April 1948.
What was the Purpose of the Marshall Plan?
The assistance was provided in order to rebuild the nations that were financially brought down to their knees by the war, along with removing trade barriers and modernizing industry, among other things. The division was based on a per capita basis. The industrial powers received more aid, as their resuscitation was necessary for the survival of Europe.
Marshall Plan Summary
There were both, positive and negative effects of the Marshall Plan, some of which have been given below.
Positive: The UK received about 26% of the total aid, whereas, France and Germany received 18% and 11%, respectively. This led to a tremendous growth in industrial production. Europe had largely succeeded in overcoming the dent blown into it by the two World Wars. The healing process, that was not much imminent before the Marshall Plan, did most certainly taken place at a greater pace in those four years.
Negative: During the war, America had fought alongside the Allies against the Axis powers. The Axis powers were defeated in the war, and though the roots of the second war were in the first, it was by and large the Axis powers who were responsible for the war. So, the aid that they received was less than the aid received by the Allies. Allied nations received more aid even when compared to the nations that had taken a neutral stand during the war.
What Impact Did the Marshall Plan Have on the Cold War?
The American Marshall Plan and communism ideology of Russia were bound to lock horns. After the war, both these nations were emerging as superpowers. Russia refused to accept any aid from America , which it considered as American interference in Europe. It also blocked the benefits of the Marshall Plan from reaching the Eastern Bloc. America, on the other hand, was not comfortable with the increasing influence of Russia in Europe.

Another reason for the bone of contention between America and Russia was the Truman Doctrine. The Truman Doctrine had basically come into the picture because of the possibility of Greece and Turkey falling to the communist ideology of Russia. In such a scenario, the Marshall Plan covered the western European nations before they had gone down the same route as their eastern counterparts, that of having communist governments. The Marshall Plan and the Truman Doctrine together had added fuel to the fire in the tense relations between the two superpowers. This had further escalated the Cold War scene between these two countries.
The Marshall Plan was not only successful in achieving the rapid development of Europe in short span of time, but also instrumental in forging of the North Atlantic Alliance, and thwarting the growth of communism and Russian influence in Europe.
Westerplatte Gdansk Poland
World War Two Memorial In Washington