Marshall Plan Turns 50; Celebration Is Planned

Harvard is planning an international symposium which will be "the centerpiece of next year's Commencement," according to the Harvard News Office.

The celebration will commemorate the 50th anniversary of the speech which launched the Marshall Plan, given at Harvard Commencement in 1947.

At Commencement on June 5, 1947, Secretary of State George C. Marshall, who was being awarded an honorary degree, gave a speech which described publicly for the first time his concept of American aide to a troubled, post-war Europe.

The speech was the beginnings of the Marshall Plan, which according to a press release from the Harvard News Office was an "unprecedented effort that rebuilt 15 countries."

Charles S. Maier '60, Krupp Foundation professor of European studies, emphasized the significance of the Marshall Plan.


"I think it was quite important," Maier said. "I think it was the most successful piece of American foreign policy in the post war period."

Maier said that while the anniversary of the Marshall Plan would be celebrated in many arenas, he thinks it appropriate that Harvard also commemorate the event.

"It's long been, I think, thought that it would be important for Harvard to take note of this," Maier said.

According to the Harvard News Office, the speech at Commencement sparked international discourse on the topic.

According to Maier, who teaches a core course on World War II and society, the Marshall Plan was instrumental in defining the role of the United States during the economic rebuilding of Europe.

"It was a four-year American aide effort and it was designed to help the European economy in reconstruction of industry and equipment and trade," Maier said. "It helped confirm the recovery path of the European economies."

In a shaky post-war economy short on foreign currencies, the Marshall Plan was designed to stimulate growth.

"The truth of the matter is that Europe's requirements, for the next three or four years, of foreign food and other essential products--principally from America--are so much greater than her present ability to pay that she must have substantial additional help, or face economic, social, and political deterioration of a very grave character," wrote Marshall in his speech.

"The remedy lies in breaking the vicious circle and restoring the confidence of the European people in the economic future of their own countries and of Europe as a whole," the speech continued

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