A2 History (Unit 3) IR 1945-2004 (3) US relations with Europe: containment; the Marshall Plan

Source: BBC History

In 1947, two important events occured: firstly, President Truman warned the American Congress that it was America’s job to contain Communism – this became known as the Truman Doctrine – and secondly, General George Marshall came up with a plan to help Europe recover from the war using American money – this became known as the Marshall Plan. In this Revision Bite, you will learn about these policies.

Youtube documentary – ‘ Marshall Plan’

Events 1947

By 1947, Greece was one of the few countries in Eastern Europe that hadn’t turned communist. The Communist rebels in Greece were prevented from taking over by the British Army.

America was becoming increasingly alarmed by the growth of Soviet power. So, when the British told Truman they could no longer afford to keep their soldiers in Greece, Truman stepped in to take over. In March 1947, he told the American Congress it was America’s job to stop communism growing any stronger. This was called the Truman Doctrine. It is often said that Truman advocated containment(stopping the Soviet getting any more powerful), but Truman did not use this word and many Americans spoke of “rolling back” communism.

In June 1947, General George Marshall made a visit to Europe to see what was needed. He came away thinking Europe was so poor that the whole of Europe was about to turn Communist. Marshall and Truman asked Congress for $17 billion to fund the European Recovery Programme nicknamed the Marshall Plan – to get the economy of Europe going again. Congress at first hesitated, but agreed in March 1948 when Czechoslovakia turned Communist. The aid was given in the form of food, grants to buy equipment, improvements to transport systems, and everything “from medicine to mules”. Most (70 per cent) of the money was used to buy commodities from US suppliers: $3.5 billion was spent on raw materials; $3.2 billion on food, feed and fertiliser; $1.9 billion on machinery and vehicles; and $1.6 billion on fuel.

Stalin forbade the Cominform countries to apply for Marshall Aid.


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