The post-World War II “European Recovery Program” (ERP) –- popularly known as “the Marshall Plan” – has been described as the most ambitious and profound economic development initiative ever undertaken by a government outside its national borders. Looking at Germany and the other robust and sophisticated countries of Europe today, it is difficult to recall that they were on their knees after the war. Launched by U.S. Secretary of State George C. Marshall in remarks made at Harvard University in June 1947, the so-called Marshall Plan began as a proposal that Europeans cooperate to structure their own recovery program, which the U.S. would support. Officially born in April 1948 when legislation creating the Economic Cooperation Administration (ECA) was passed by the U.S. Congress, the Marshall Plan transferred over $13 billion of material and technical assistance to Europe—the equivalent today of nearly $90 billion U.S. dollars. The ECA/ERP phase was abruptly curtailed as a result of the invasion of South Korea in 1950. Marshall aid and Marshall Plan-inspired films would continue through 1955 under two new agencies (the Mutual Security Agency and the Foreign Operations Administration) that were focused less on economic recovery and more on international security.

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