The Marshall Plan
Europe lay in ruins after the six-year-long war. Without a prosperous European continent, the United States might have suffered another severe economic depression. In addition, America feared that with little infrastructure and many on the verge of starvation, ravaged countries might fall into the hands of socialists or communists.
Truman believed the United States had to assist Greece and Turkey when Communist rebels threatened their security. He expressed these beliefs in a dramatic appearance before a joint session of Congress on March 12, 1947. His policy of containing communism whenever possible became known as the Truman Doctrine.
The U.S. program of financial assistance to help rebuild these devastated countries was called “the European Recovery Program.” Today, it's better known as the Marshall Plan, after U.S. Secretary of State George Marshall. Leaders in 1947 met in Paris, but when the Soviets realized that the United States wanted their cooperation with the capitalist societies of Western Europe, they left the meeting to establish their own plan to integrate Communist states in Eastern Europe. With more than $13 billion in U.S. aid to Western Europe, there was clearly an economic curtain dividing it from the Soviet-backed lands. The largest amounts of aid went to Great Britain, France, Italy, and West Germany, respectively.