The 75th anniversary of the Marshall Plan was celebrated with many VIPs in attendance. But what matters today is not a retrospective, but a vision for the future.
Vienna (OTS) – On June 5, 1947, George C. Marshall laid out the cornerstones of a one-of-a-kind plan for reconstruction in Europe at Harvard University. It was a plan for economic prosperity and a pluralist, democratic society. Today, 75 years later, the Marshall Plan is more relevant than ever and is regarded a world-wide synonym for help, support, and social innovation. On June 8, this was also celebrated with numerous guests from politics, business, and the arts at the Diplomatic Academy in Vienna. During these festivities on the occasion of the 75 th anniversary of the Marshall Plan, Federal President Alexander Van der Bellen (via video stream), Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg, U.S. Ambassador to Austria Victoria Reggie Kennedy, and the President of the Austrian Marshall Plan Foundation, Wolfgang Petritsch, acknowledged the lasting effect of the Marshall Plan on the development of Austria and Europe. An additional greeting was submitted via video by U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg.
On the anniversary occasion, Federal President Alexander Van der Bellen explained: “Wars, social unrest, and political chaos are created through poverty and misery; that was the conviction of George C. Marshall. Only through generous help and economic reconstruction and through the establishment of democratic institutions – particularly in Germany and Austria – could democracy in Europe be strengthened and the bottom knocked out from under the ghosts of the past and totalitarian ideologies. The Marshall Plan stabilized a continent destroyed and ravaged by two world wars.”
Alexander Schallenberg, Foreign Minister of the Republic of Austria, referred to common values and goals: “Our relationships are founded by common values and goals: democracy, freedom, human rights, and the rule of law are at the center. Those values are as important today as they were 75 years ago, and specifically during a time when war has returned to Europe.”
It is imperative to look towards the future
All attendees agreed that the historical achievement of the Marshall Plan must serve as a foundation today, because in the light of the war in Ukraine, freedom and democracy are not a matter of course. U.S. Ambassador Victoria Reggie Kennedy: “As we can see in the tragic events unfolding in Ukraine today, democracy is constantly being questioned and requires our continuous commitment, our investment, and our active awareness. Democracy must be constantly renewed through active citizen engagement, including all generations and communities. We are looking forward to continuing the close ties, the cooperation, and the dialogue between the United States and Austria.”
Wolfgang Petritsch, the evening’s host and President of the Austrian Marshall Plan Foundation is convinced of the historical and contemporary importance of the Marshall Plan: “Without the Marshall Plan, the development of Austria, and of Europe as a whole, would not have been as successful after the cultural rift of the Second World War. In Austria, the Marshall Plan surely did influence a rapprochement towards western values and ways of life without jeopardizing our mediating role towards Eastern- and Southeast Europe.” An additional anniversary event will take place in Washington, DC. In cooperation with the Wilson International Center for Scholars, the Austrian Marshall Plan Foundation is organizing a panel discussion with high-ranking representatives from the Wilson Center, the Austrian Marshall Plan Foundation, the U.S. Department of State, and the Atlantic Council on the topic: The Marshall Plan at 75: Lessons for Ukraine?
Strengthening networking between the United States and Austria
It is a lesser-known fact in Austria that funds from the Marshall Plan dating back to 1947 still exist. Markus Schweiger, the foundation’s executive director, explains: “Those funds today are being used in two main areas: business and academia. The Austrian Marshall Plan Foundation specifically fosters the knowledge transfer between the United States and Austria, thus strengthening mutual understanding between the United States and Europe with Austria as a focal point.” Every year, some one million Euro of the foundation’s endowment are being spent for cooperation and research projects, as well as for the support of Austrian and American universities and scholars. Christian Eggenreiter, also an executive director of the foundation: “With this knowledge transfer the Austrian Marshall Plan Foundation continues a well- established tradition of transatlantic relations. Thanks to the foundation, a strong cultural, economic, and academic network between Europe and the United States has been created.” Currently, the Austrian Marshall Plan Foundation is working on a special fellowship program for Ukrainian and resorted Russian scholars in cooperation with the Austrian Institute for International Politics (OIIP) and the Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, DC.
Questions & Contact:
Dr. Markus Schweiger Tel: +43 1 50175 597 E-Mail:
Mag. Christian Eggenreiter Tel: +43 1 50175 694 E-Mail:
All photos courtesy of APA/ Aman Rastegar