A new dawn for Europe: the Marshall Plan

"All Our Colours to the Mast" (Award-winning Marshall Plan poster by Reijn Dirksen)
“All Our Colours to the Mast” (Award-winning Marshall Plan poster by Reijn Dirksen)(© Marshall Foundation)

In 1947, U.S. President Harry Truman and his secretary of state, General George C. Marshall, launched the idea of a programme to rebuild war-torn Europe. The Old Continent’s proud states were still in ruins in the wake of the Second World War. There were dangerous food shortages. Some countries were on the point of bankruptcy. There was political agitation. And then came the devastating winter of 1947 and a summer of drought.

The United States thus devised a win-win plan — the European Recovery Program as the Marshall Plan was officially called — that would allow Europe to rebuild, provide markets for America’s surplus production capacity and prevent the spread of communism. To achieve this end, the U.S. provided a capital injection of the modern-day equivalent of some 100 billion dollars in loans, grants and donations for a recovery programme that had no precedent in history, and for which George Marshall was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

Producer: Marijke van der Meer

Broadcast: March 24, 1997 to mark the 50th anniversary of the Marshall Plan

This programme received a finalist award at the New York Radio Festivals.