After World War II much of Europe was destroyed. Armies from both sides had bombed roads, bridges, supplies, and communication facilities throughout Europe. Europe needed to rebuild.
This was not easy however. Many governments were in debt or out of money because they had used all their resources in fighting the war. On top of this, their economies were devastated making it difficult to collect taxes in order to rebuild. Many people did not have enough food to eat let alone money to pay taxes.
Fear of Communism
The United States, as well as much of Europe, had allied with the Russians in order to defeat Hitler and the Germans. However, now they were worried about the Russians and the spread of communism. If Western Europe did not rebuild and grow strong quickly, it may soon fall to communism.
Fortunately, the land of the United States had been free of war and devastation. The US economy was doing well, making the United States the richest country in the world. They wanted to help Europe and their allies recover from the War.
General George Marshall Source: US Army
The Marshall Plan
In order to help Europe recover from the war, the United States came up with the Marshall Plan. It is named after Secretary of State George Marshall. The Marshall Plan offered help and finances to European countries in order to recover from World War II.
Label placed on items provided by the Marshall Plan
Source: US Government
Although the US had already been helping Europe to recover, the Marshall Plan made it official in 1948. Over the next four years the US gave $13 billion in assistance to Western European countries. The US also offered assistance to Russia and its allies, however, they turned it down.
By the time the Marshall Plan funding ended, all of the countries that participated had larger economies and were stronger than before the war. The plan was successful in helping Western Europe recover economically from the war.
George Marshall was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1953 for his contribution to the Marshall Plan.
The Marshall Plan helped with supplies for factories. For example, the plan supplied carbon black to a tire plant in Birmingham, England keeping the plant open and 10,000 workers with jobs.
The US also helped to improve technology and manufacturing techniques in a number of European countries.
Winston Churchill said that the Marshall Plan was "the most unsordid act in history".
Japan was not a part of the Marshall Plan, but did receive US economic aid through other programs.