Marshall Plan Speech Exhibit Joins Google Cultural Institute

U.S. Secretary of State George C. Marshall’s address that launched the promise of economic assistance to Europe following World War II has become a featured addition to the Google Cultural Institute.

A project of the Marshall Foundation, the Marshall Plan exhibit incorporates the audio recording of Marshall’s address at Harvard Univ. in June 1947 along with the actual reading copy of his remarks and many powerful photos of the post-World War II Europe that express the devastation and suffering of millions of people.  The online Google exhibit includes other materials from the Foundation’s archives that illustrate the reach of Marshall Plan aid.  You can access the exhibit at:

You may be especially interested in watching the video that’s embedded in the exhibit that combines the audio recording with photographs depicting the state of collapse in Europe.

In January 1947, U. S. President Harry Truman appointed George Marshall, the architect of victory during WWII, to be Secretary of State. Writing in his diary on January 8, 1947, Truman said, “Marshall is the greatest man of World War II….We’ll have a real State Department now.”

In just a few months, State Department leadership under Marshall crafted the Marshall Plan concept, which George Marshall shared with the world in his speech at Harvard. Officially known as the European Recovery Program (ERP), the Marshall Plan was intended to rebuild the economies and spirits of western Europe, primarily. Marshall was convinced the key to restoration of political stability lay in the revitalization of national economies. Further he saw political stability in Western Europe as a key to blunting the advances of communism in that region.

Sixteen nations, including Germany, became part of the program and shaped the assistance they required, state by state, with administrative and technical assistance provided through the Economic Cooperation Administration (ECA) of the United States. European nations received nearly $13 billion in aid (equal to $148 billion in 2013 dollars), which initially resulted in shipments of food, staples, fuel and machinery from the United States and later resulted in investment in industrial capacity in Europe. Marshall Plan funding ended in 1951.

Marshall Plan nations were assisted greatly in their economic recovery. From 1948 through 1952 European economies grew at an unprecedented rate. Trade relations led to the formation of the North Atlantic alliance. Economic prosperity led by coal and steel industries helped to shape what we know now as the European Union.

The exhibit was prepared by Marshall Foundation Archivist Jeffrey Kozak and Library Director Paul Barron. Google Cultural Institute uses technology to display art, archives, heritage sites and other material for people to explore online. The site currently supports nearly 350 collections from 54 different countries.

The George C. Marshall Foundation, located in Lexington, Virginia, preserves, protects and promotes the example of George Marshall. It is the only place where the principles that motivated Marshall are kept alive through educational programs, online presence and facilities that include a museum, research library, and archives.