Because of the Second World War, many European countries were in an economic mess. American President Harry Truman ordered US General George Marshall to come up with a plan for economic aid for countries in Europe.

Marshall in Europe:
General Marshall went to Europe to assess the state of the countries. The conclusion was bad. The countries of Europe owed $11.5 billion to the USA.

The plan is formulated:
President Truman was worried that the Communists would gain support by making promises to the people in other countries about what they could do to improve the state of the economy if they were in power. He got General Marshall to come up with a plan of economic recovery for the countries of Europe. Marshall suggested that around $17billion should cover all the expenses. Congress refused to grant this money , but after Communists took over the government of Czechoslovakia in 1948, Truman knew that he had to act to prevent the spread of Communism.

The plan is launched:
Congress granted the money , $17bn , to be spread over a four year period. This plan to help Europe was called “Marshall Aid” or the Marshall Plan. Everything from food to machinery was shipped to democratic countries in Europe.

Popular opinion:
Some people said that Marshall Aid was generous. Others said that self – interest was the main motive. Still others saw it purely as a defensive action against Communism especially as Italy received no aid until a non – Communist government took over in 1948).

Stalin and Marshall Aid:
Stalin saw Marshall Aid as a threat. He thought that the Americans were a) trying to make the recovery of the European countries dependant on American handouts and b) that they were trying to create an overseas market for their goods. He banned all Eastern European countries from accepting Marshall Aid.