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Truman Doctrine/ Marshall Plan



Churchill’s Fulton speech did not cause the Cold War, but he was the first person to stop pretending to be friends with Russia.

Thus, Churchill's speech was the start of the Cold War; after it, America and Russia got into a number of conflicts.



Greece and Turkey

By 1946, Greece and Czechoslovakia were the only countries in eastern Europe that weren’t Communist.   

Even in Greece, the government, which was being supported by British soldiers, was having to fight a civil war against the Communists.

In February 1947, the British told Truman they could no longer afford to keep their soldiers in Greece.   

President Truman stepped in.   The USA paid for the British soldiers in Greece.

Truman noted that Turkey too was in danger from Soviet aggression, so Congress voted to give aid to Turkey as well.

Part of the money was given in economic and humanitarian aid, but most was spent on military supplies and weapons.




  Truman's speech




•    Truman Doctrine/Marshall Plan



New Words

Doctrine: a belief.

Congress: the American ‘parliament’.

Aggressor: someone who starts a quarrel.

Containment: holding something in – stopping the USSR growing.


Source A

Every nation must choose between different ways of life ...  We must help free peoples to work out their own destiny in their own way.

President Truman, speaking in March 1947.


Source B

This ‘American duty’ is just a smokescreen for a plan of expansion ...  They try to take control of Greece by shouting about ‘totalitarianism’.

The Russian newspaper Izvestia, March 1947.



Truman Doctrine

In the 1930s, America had kept out of Europe’s business.

Now, on 12 March 1947, Truman told Americans that it was America’s DUTY to interfere (Source A).   His policy towards the Soviet Union was one of ‘containment’ – he did not try to destroy the USSR, but he wanted to stop it growing any more.   This was called the ‘Truman Doctrine’.

  What was the Truman Doctrine?  



Did you know?

The historian Frank Kofsky has suggested that Truman whipped up the Cold War to help the US airforce and aircraft industry.


    Powerpoint presentation explaining the cartoon

Source C

This Russian cartoon shows the Greek government being ‘helped’ by Uncle Sam (symbolising America).  

Notice the $ sign on the gun.

Click here for the interpretation



The Marshall Plan 

In Spring 1947, the American general George Marshall went to Europe.  He said every country in Europe was so poor that it was in danger of turning Communist!  Europe was ‘a breeding ground of hate’.

He said that America should give $17 billion of aid to get Europe’s economy going and stop Communism.

Marshall said that it was up to the countries of Europe to decide what they needed.   In July 1947, led by Britain and France, the countries of western Europe met in Paris, and asked for substantial economic aid.



  What was the Marshall Plan?  


Source D

The ruling gang of American imperialists has taken the path of open expansion, of enslaving weakened capitalist countries.  It has hatched new war plans against the Soviet Union. Imitating Hitler, the new aggressors are using blackmail.

GM Malenkov, a Soviet politician, speaking in 1947 about the Marshall Plan.   Andrei Zhdanov echoed this opinion.


The Soviet Union hated Marshall aid (see Source D).   Stalin forbade Communist countries to ask for money.  

Instead, in October 1947, he set up Cominform.   Every Communist party in Europe joined.  This allowed Stalin control of the Communists in Europe.

Then, in January 1949, Stalin created Comecon - an economic union of the Communist countries in eastern Europe.  This allowed Stalin to control the Iron Curtain economies for the benefit of Russia - for instance, one of its rules was that all inventions had to be shared.

Source E

'Can he block it?'  

This cartoon was drawn c.1947 by Edwin Marcus, caricaturist for the New York Times.  It shows Stalin trying to stop the basketball of the 'Marshall Plan' scoring the basket labelled 'European recovery'.

Click here for the interpretation





Powerpoint presentation explaining the cartoon




At first, the American Congress did not want to give the money for Marshall Aid.  But then, in February 1948, the Communists took power in Czechoslovakia, followed on 10 March by the suspicious suicide of the popular minister Jan Masaryk.

Congress was scared, and voted for Marshall Aid on 31 March 1948.





Source F

This cartoon of 18 June 1947 by EH Shepard for the British

magazine Punch shows Truman and Stalin as

two taxi-drivers trying to get customers. 

The 'customers' are labelled 'Turkey', 'Hungary', 'Bulgaria', 'Austria'.

Click here for the interpretation




Powerpoint presentation explaining the cartoon



The Americans and the Russians interpreted the Marshall Plan differently, as these cartoons show!

Powerpoint presentation explaining the cartoon

Source G

This cartoon of 1 October 1947 by EH Shepard for the British magazine Punch shows Marshall (on the left) telling 'Uncle Sam' - i.e. the American nation - that American Aid is needed to shore up the countries of western Europe: 'Come on Sam! It's up to us again.'

Click here for the interpretation


Powerpoint presentation explaining the cartoon

Source H

The cartoon, which was published in Czechoslovakia in 1949, was drawn by the team of Russian artists: 'Kukriniksy'. 

The title is ‘Marshall’s Plan in practice’.  General Marshall holds guns, and harnesses labelled ‘for the French’ and ‘for the Germans’.

Click here for the interpretation




1. Find all the dates in bold in the text and organise the events into a list in chronological order.

    a. Read Source A. Talk about the events in your list – as though you were an American.

    b. Now read Sources B–D. Describe the same events – as though you were a Russian Communist.

2. Why did the Marshall Plan make the Russians so angry?

3. Did the Truman Doctrine and the Marshall Plan cause the Cold War?

4. What was the first event of the Cold War?

5. Work out an argument that the creation of Cominform was the first event of the Cold War.




So - looking at the whole question -- overall...


Who do YOU think was to blame

for the Cold War?


megaphone  HAVE YOUR SAY



on Mr Clare's History Blog - Who was to blame for the Cold War?