The Marshall Plan: How should we interpret it? Just how philanthropic was it?

The activities in this very varied lesson ask students to raise questions, place sources on a continuum, add analysis to a short descriptive account and quickly tweet a caption to three contemporary cartoons.

Show slide 1 which is a German poster from 1949 advertising an exhibition to celebrate the benefits Marshall Aid brought. Ask students to spot the clues: the American skyline, the convoy of ships bringing goods, the ERP European Recovery Programme. Reveal the date and context by clicking the blue box below.

Step 1
Now give students just 5 minutes to find out all they can about Marshall Aid from their textbooks. You want 6 facts and then 3 questions a historian would pose when explaining the Marshall Plan.

Step 2
Collect all the factual information together in one place on the board but spend much more time exploring the questions. This range of possible examples is shown on PowerPoint slide 3:

Why did Stalin refuse it to Poland and Czechoslovakia?

What was in it for the USA? What were Marshall’s real motives?

Why did Congress oppose it in 1947 and then accept it a year later?

Why did only 16 countries accept aid?

What was the

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