Honoring the 75th anniversary of the Truman-influenced Marshall Plan

Published: Mar. 31, 2023 at 7:59 PM CDT
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INDEPENDENCE, Mo. (KCTV) - Part of President Harry Truman’s legacy was his action after WWII, enacting a plan offering financial support to war-torn Europe.

In April 1948, Truman approved the Economic Recovery Act, better known as the Marshall Plan. The plan directed more than $13 billion in economic aid to European countries to help restore infrastructure.

Mark Adams, the education director at the Truman Presidential Library, described it as both an economic and diplomatic policy.

“They needed this injection of aid to help Europe and the infrastructure,” Adams explained. “It really stabilized those countries, prevented the spread of communism, which helped the United States economy, as well.”

The support included investments in infrastructure, manufacturing, agriculture and even housing.

Toby Von Der Heyde, who first came to the U.S. as a college student, spent the first years of his life in an apartment building that was built with Marshall Plan funds. His parents and grandparents had been refugees in the wake of World War II.

He said their small, two-bedroom apartment allowed them to regain stability in their lives.

“It allowed them to reestablish the family and find jobs,” Von Der Heyde said.

Ursula Terrasi, whose family came to the U.S. from Sicily, said U.S. spending on infrastructure improvements in Italy improved the quality of life for her parents enough that they could immigrate to the Midwest.

“It was unexpected but brilliant, because it helped prop up democracy there and avoid fascism,” she said.