The Second World War took a massive toll on Western and non-communist European nations. It left them financially and economically devastated, with most countries in a state of economic collapse. The aftermath of the world war led to the start of a new era, which was defined by the decline of European colonial empires and also led to the rise of superpowers such as Russia and the United States of America. The superpowers become competitors in the world stage and led to the development of the Cold War that was characterized by political subversion, proxy wars, and espionage. The consequences of the war led to the development of international organizations such as the United Nations, which were aimed at stopping the occurrence of another world war and help affected countries to recover economically. The Western and non-communist European countries had to relinquish their colonies after the war, changing the way the countries related to former colonies. The economic recovery in Europe was fueled by the efforts of Russia and the United States. The United States led the Western Bloc while the Soviet Union led the Eastern bloc.
Western and Non-communist Europe Economic Recovery
Western Allies were involved in the protection of democratic states from Communist invasions and spearheaded the set up of international organizations that helped work together to solve common problems ranging from security, defense, improving trade and rebuilding the European nations had been physically and economically shattered by the way. The war had led many of the European countries to get into debt with the United States and thus could not afford to rebuild. The European countries were characterized by a shortage of food, raw materials, and an influx of refugees that led to homelessness.
The Truman Doctrine
Western Europe was under the threat of the Communists. Countries like Greece and Turkey were near economic collapse, leading to the action of the then United States president, Harry Truman. He planned to support all the European democratic countries that were threatened by the communist revolution. The Truman doctrine was announced in 1947 and spearheaded the reconstruction of the Western and non-communist European nations.
The Marshall Plan
General George C. Marshall, who was the Secretary of State, announced a grand plan for the economic recovery of European countries. The plan was known as the Marshall Plan. It was enacted in 1948 and provided money that was used to help build the European continent financially. It was a four-year plan that would help reconstruct cities, industries, and infrastructure that was heavily damaged during the war. The plan also was aimed at removing trade barriers between European neighbors. The plan also fostered commerce between the United States and the non-communist European countries, which led to economic recovery after the war. The OEEC (Organization for European Economic Co-operation was created as an organization that would distribute American aid money in the European countries. Western nations also established a treaty (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) in 1949 to ensure the collective security of Western Europe from any Soviet Aggression.
WWII changed the mentality of many nations. The relationship between countries changed in the 1950s and 1960s. After fighting for European freedom, European nations had different views of their colonies. The success of the war was attributed to the help the European countries got from the colonies. It was thus impossible to impose a colonialist mentality after the war. In the 1950s-1960s, most European nations had relinquished their colonies. They supported former colonies with the help of the United States to become independent of preventing the spread of communism. Countries come together to promote strategies and organizations that would prevent another world war from ever occurring. It led to the development of treaties that would safeguard the world from war.
Arkes, H. (2015). Bureaucracy, the Marshall Plan, and the national interest. Princeton University Press.
Milward, A. S. (2003). The reconstruction of western Europe, 1945-51. Routledge.