George Marshall was an extremely gifted soldier and politician. He had played
a key role in the US War Economy. In 1947 he was the US Secretary of State.
Like Truman, he believed that economic problems had caused the rise of Hitler
in the 1930s and the Second World War as a result. Marshall saw Communism
as a threat to Western democracy, in the same way as Nazism and Hitler had
His remedy was massive economic aid to countries damaged by war - $17 billion
dollars worth in total. The idea was that the aid would create stable economies
and stable governments. This would make it difficult for Communists to get
the support of people suffering from hardships. You need to remember that
it was not easy to convince the American people of this need. They tended
to see Europe's problems as none of their concern.
It is important to remember that Marshall Aid (as it became known) carried
some political strings. The European states could not ask for aid individually.
They had to come up with a Europe wide plan which involved them all co-operating.
They also had to accept that Germany would get a lot of the aid to help it
Several Eastern European states agreed to this at first. However, Stalin
refused to accept that Germany should be helped and was suspicious about being
forced to work with some other European states. He refused Marshall aid and
stopped the Eastern European states from accepting it.