Denmark's Social Democratic Government and the Marshall Plan, 1947-1950

Denmark's Social Democratic Government and the Marshall Plan, 1947-1950

Denmark's Social Democratic Government and the Marshall Plan, 1947-1950

Denmark's Social Democratic Government and the Marshall Plan, 1947-1950

Synopsis

The implementation of the Marshall Plan in Denmark gave rise to serious conflicts between the Social Democratic government and the opposition -- and between the government and the business community. Vibeke Sørensen portrays the deep disagreement that existed regarding Danish economic policy in the post-war period, analysing also how this political disagreement characterised the Danish implementation of the plan. On the basis of thorough source studies, Sørensen questions the up until now appreciatory evaluation of the importance of the Marshall Plan for the Danish society. On one hand, the implementation played a role in initiating structural changes in the Danish economy, with the plan itself complementing the social democratic reconstruction policy during the first few post-war years. On the other hand, the social democratic government failed in its effort to create consensus regarding more stringent control of economic policy and recognition of the necessity of an industrialisation policy. As a result, the Marshall Plan had only limited success in Denmark.

Excerpt

Why publish a thesis which is more than ten years old? The answer is simple. This concerns a thesis which continues to stand out. Vibeke Sørensen's study of Danish political policy towards the Marshall Plan continues to be essential reading for historians interested in the immediate postwar period. In short, there is an educational and research-based need to publish Vibeke's thesis.

Vibeke wrote Social Democratic Government in Denmark under the Marshall Plan 1947–1950 at the European University Institute in Florence under the supervision of Professor Alan Milward from 1982 to 1987. During this period she was part of a group that, inspired by Professor Milward, put a new perspective on the Marshall Plan. Focus was placed on the concrete effects of the plan on each individual country. The thesis offered new insight and elaborated on the general picture of the plan's importance for the development of Western Europe and Western European integration as well as for the economic boom that began towards the end of the 1950s. Study of the Marshall Plan documented a close link between the economic policies of the various states and their international strategies, revealing at the same time the existence of conflicts of interest between the countries involved, especially between Western Europe and the USA. This was a conclusion that undermined the belief of a USA that unselfishly rescued a Europe in deep crisis from the clutches of the Russian bear and Communism – a myth that was exposed once the archives were opened.

In her thesis Vibeke outlines the deep disagreement that existed over postwar economic policy, and how such disagreement affected the Marshall Plan's implementation. To a considerable degree, Vibeke altered our understanding of the plan's significance for Denmark. Implementation of the Marshall Plan played an important role in initiating structural changes in the Danish economy, with the plan itself complementing the social democratic reconstruction policy during the first few postwar years.

However, the fact that the social democratic government failed in its attempt to achieve consensus regarding more stringent control of the economy as well as recognition of the necessity of an industrialisation policy, was, in Vibeke's view, the reason why the Marshall Plan had only limited success in Denmark.

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