This is followed by an account of the goals, scope and methods of American assistance and concludes with a discussion of their impact on the formation of a united Europe.
The European Recovery program was the most important facet of what has been described as "one of the most pragmatically creative phases of [American] foreign policy history" and its eventual broad effects were, to a considerable extent, part of the original conception (Ellwood 33). The guiding notions of the ERP were first put forward by Secretary of State George C. Marshall at the 1947 Harvard commencement exercises where he spoke of the need for an initiative that would assist Europe in its economic recovery. Marshall spoke at length of the physical facts of European distress such as the loss of life, destruction of cities and factories, and shortages of food and coal. He went to the heart of the problem, however, when he said that such "visible destruction was probably less serious than the dislocation of the entire fabric of European economy" that had taken place to such an extent that "the breakdown of the business structure of Europe during the war was complete" (quoted in Pogue 526).
Marshall's discussion of the extent of the destruction was not at all exaggerated. Winston Churchill described postwar Europe as "a rubble heap, a charnel house, a breeding ground of pestilence and hate" (quoted in Maddox 90). In addition to already deplorable conditions harsh drought in the summers of